Don’t “Should” Yourself in the Foot

Hi friends! *Big inhale* What a time it is to be alive! Only 7 months into 2020, and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been!

As we head into our fourth month of self-quarantine, I can’t say that it has gotten any easier. Aside from the obvious restrictions, just like the rest of the world, I have struggled with what exactly my new “normal” is looking like, both mentally and emotionally.

Just one of the many consequences of this global pandemic is that we are now all being urged to hustle harder than ever. We are given examples of Frida Kahlo, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton (just to name a few) who all thrived while under lockdown. I’ve received newsletters and read countless articles from my fave magazine subscriptions urging me to use the presumed “downtime” I now have to learn a new skill, take on a high intensity workout routine, or “simply” declutter my life.

It’s as if, every second that I am not building towards these ”shoulds,” is a second wasted.

A should is an expectation IMPOSED by us or onto us. While they might seem like motivators, “shoulding” ourselves is actually a major energy drain as it forces us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once and is often wrapped in guilt and even shame. The pressure of it all is convincing AF.

Put your finger down if you ever feel like vegging out on the couch, eat everything in sight, and just do a whole lot of nothing, but then that little voice in your head tells you, “you should be more productive while you’re at home, sis…never waste a day on the couch,” so now you feel guilty mid-laze and shame yourself for not being as disciplined as others and bam…it’s no longer a day of R&R but rather anxiety just waiting to creep in … (*slowly puts finger down*)

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There’s this common misconception that if we lounge around the house, we must also simultaneously take on a new hobby, like reading, for instance.

This imposed guilt is toxic imo, so that’s why, a few weeks back, I made a commit to cleanse from this “should” with the help of @halotopcreamery and actually celebrate that feel-good feeling from setting goals and taking action on my own terms, OKURRR!

Side note: Halo Top is ya girl’s fave ice cream, so big s/o to them for working with my sweet-toothed self!

But for real, Halo Top’s formula in itself has helped chip away at this “shoulding” culture, because all of our lives, we are told that: “we shouldn’t eat the whole pint,” or that, “ice cream should be a special treat.” But hallelujah that Halo Top is known for their fewer cal/less sugar because, under the latter imposed notion, every night must be a special occasion in my house, because I go through several pints a week, and I’m not mad bout’ it, LOL!

Anyway, as the month has gone on, life has only become even more hectic with the recent global social justice movement, we’ve been experiencing.

Days seem to move a bit slower for me and now more than ever, it has been imperative that I take extra care of little ol’ me.

I realized that up until this point, I have only robbed myself of the satisfaction of real, uninterrupted, rest. Listening to all the “shoulds” of this new era, has only left me never truly in the moment, but rather caught up in a story of another choice that could have been made.

So in efforts of a healthier cycle of self-love and self-care, I have been eliminating the “shoulds” that imply obligation and expectation. On the days, I decide to veg out, I’m going to commit to just that, with an extra pint of Halo Top, while I’m at it!

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After reflecting on the heaviness of the past couple weeks, I’ve realized that now is the time to take up space and be loud! We are all worthy of navigating on our own terms, especially as the world around us, is seemingly falling apart.

So to circle back to the daunting question many of us have been asked:

“Are you going to learn any new skills during the pandemic?

MY ANSWER:

…I already am. How to cope with the pandemic, how to get through the day knowing everyone I love is sad and scared, and how to read the news and still go on.

And all that is enough. I don’t have to come out of this with new skills, new projects, new expectations, or new accomplishments. What matters is that I come out of this”  –

So the next time I hear that little voice convincing me that, “I should never waste a day on the couch,” I will reply, “or maybe, there’s never been a better day than today, to be on that dang couch, mkay!!! (BIG CLAP)

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Indulge or hustle at your own accord, sis! Because, hennieee, you deserve that right.

Our Almost NYC Move During COVID-19 Outbreak

“GOD WILL WRECK YOUR PLANS WHEN HE SEES THAT YOUR PLANS ARE ABOUT TO WRECK YOU”

Less than 4 weeks ago, we were wrapping up our “Goodbye LA” YouTube Video and shipping our final boxes to our new home, in NYC. In fact, this exact blog post announcing our soon departure, read a hell of a lot different, too! Our landlord performed her final inspection to our apartment and the move out cleaning service we hired was set in motion for that weekend, as well. So crazy! We were doing the damn thing, ahhh! What a dream come true.

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamt of starting off my mornings w/ a hearty bagel & cream cheese, rushing to my subway stop, and riding into the city. A city that encapsulated everything I’ve ever wanted. And I just knew one day, I had to be a part of it. (Thanks Sex and the City)

Growing up in California, you just don’t get that hustle and bustle type of energy. Life moves slower… there’s this gentler approach to getting stuff done. Meanwhile, that East Coast mentality is aggressive, it’s in your face: its that: give no bullshit, take no bullshit, every single f*kn day matters in this expensive ass city, vibe (v much more on brand for my Aries personality). 

And for some reason, during these past few years visiting NYC, there was this gravitational pull into this new way of life.

I’d been in LA for almost 5 years and quite frankly, I was ready for a change. LA is a city that I’d fallen in love with many years ago and though, it’s put me through some heavy shit, it loved me right back. LA made me a mommy (to my bbyboy Shih-Tzu, Troy), it reconnected me with bae, it encouraged me to begin this very blog and soon after gave me the opportunity to quit my corporate job and begin the life of my dreams (doing what I love every single day…(THIS!) My walks around the neighborhood consisted of palm trees lining the streets, blue sunny skies, and the prettiest view of LA, imo! So you are probs asking why tf was I wanting to leave.

Among the other reasons, simply put: I WAS JUST GETTING TOO DAMN COMFORTABLE. This life felt cozy, it felt safe, and over time, (forgive me for sounding ungrateful) it became boring. I did not feel challenged in any way and high-key was feeling complacent and that was beginning to mess with my mental health. The plush routine of it all was repetitive and was no longer serving me joy. In fact, I felt happier almost anywhere else I visited. And I don’t even think it was particular to this city, but more of a ME thing. I’ve moved around all my life. I’ve lived in SF, The Valley, Santa Barbara, Rome, then LA. I def fall into that cliché category of not being able to stay in one place for too long. I need new scenery, new cultures, and new perspectives to stimulate me. And being that my mission is to encourage girls to live thy best life and try new sh*t, I just wasn’t doing that. I needed to feel ALIVE again and the East Coast life, gave me that.

We decided this was it. This was where God wanted us & though it wasn’t easy, it all worked out. We made all necessary arrangements: sold our furniture, managed to fit all of our remaining belongings into boxes, and signed the lease to our dream apt.

(I’ll be working on a blog post – on something around the lines of: “What You Need to Know Before Moving to NYC/Cross-Country – so stay tuned for that at a later time)

But, within days, our seemingly indestructible dream, was disrupted by COVID-19.

For reference, we signed our lease literally HOURS before COVID-19 was declared a national emergency (fml).

W/ every new mandate, new statistic, we tried to work around it. In our minds, “God wouldn’t allow us to make this move, just to place us in danger.” WE HAD TO MAKE THIS WORK! The more we told ourselves this, the more there were signs that indicated otherwise. NYC, the city that never sleeps, soon entered into panic hibernation. I saw the toughest city I knew, now plagued with devastation. But amidst the chaos, we loaded our boxes…we were doing the damn thing! Until moments later, we received a call. I was reminded that my medical history now puts me at risk. But that never crossed my mind, NYC was it for us. Soon after, just as beautifully as our plans came together, was as quickly as they fell apart. God is always working, but man did he really go outta his way to change our hearts. This sudden shift felt like a twisted joke.

So we sat and cried and cried some more. We questioned God, “why now? What are you trying to teach us? If we go, we promise we will act with caution!” But the more we asked these naive questions, the more we couldn’t avoid the signs any longer. Within days, this “dream come true” literally became a fucking nightmare!

Through our loss of control, we believe, God was trying to speak through humility and introspection. So, w/ heavy hearts, we decided to not go forward w/ the move.

(Damn, weeks later and this still makes me tear up, saying aloud)

It came down to moving forward with our dream no matter the costs (and we are talking our lives here) or literally give up everything we had been working towards for months…oh, not to mention: lose out on $6k-8k on already paid rent, deposits, moving costs, etc., risk temporary homelessness here in LA (as we’d already put notice), and SO MUCH MORE, oooo girl, there was just so much more on the line, but that’s for another time!

But at the end of the day, what we were experiencing, was just a sliver in comparison to those truly affected, and my heart just aches for the world. Especially, because, for the first time in our lifetimes do we see the world come together in this collective experience of trauma, grief, and anxiety.

Now, that we are on…what…day 1 million??? into the stay-at-home order, we have felt ALL the emotions. Initially, all we felt was sadness. I mean, that don’t want to eat, don’t feel like showering, not replying to anybody… sadness. Not to be dramatic, but it’s like we were mourning a death. This new life: full of adventure, full of possibilities, one that was literally just HOURS away from coming alive. We sat in a now, unfurnished apartment forced to stare at the 10 boxes that held our entire lives within them. If it were not for a neighbor of ours who flaked the day before our initial move-out, we wouldn’t have the only piece of furniture that did not sell: our bed. (See, I’m telling y’all! God works in mysterious ways) but I mean, this literally gave us more of an excuse to be in bed all day, entirely in our feels because we literally had no where else to go. Meanwhile, we were now fighting against this bull of a leasing company to get our money back.

It just all felt like doomsday all around. As an empath, I feeeel so very deeply. And seeing the death toll rise astronomically within the city just broke my heart. But as days turned into weeks, the sadness soon turned into fear. Because of my high-risk status, our weekly grocery runs (even with proper PPE) would result in massive panic attacks. As the numbers increased, my desire to even go on short walks, decreased. I was and still am scared to death by this virus. To avoid the chaos of the stores, we began ordering via delivery. But then the anxieties of properly handling/disinfecting the goods and produce came into play. I saw those anxieties almost turn into like OCD tendencies when it came to disinfecting. It all just became triggering AF. Poor bae knows to follow the many cleaning procedures I have put in place just to make me feel semi-protected during our outings or even just at home. We have the throwing out the trash procedure, the walking the dog procedure, the receiving PR packages procedure, the delivered groceries procedure, it’s a damn PROCESS but that is our new normal.

I no longer felt like myself anymore. It became harder to articulate all that I was feeling. We went from mourning a life of “what would have been” to now a general grieving of the loss of life as we knew it. So wild. I don’t think anyone in my life would have ever considered me a home-body prior to this experience but I truly, honestly, and genuinely feel like an agoraphobic. I don’t want to leave the house, I don’t want to get some “fresh” air, I don’t want to be anywhere where my life is now put in danger. I love love love life itself but I just am so afraid of risking that all for a simple outing. IMMA STAY MY ASS AT HOME, OKURR. And considering that social media is my job, you’d think, (since I had more down time), I’d take advantage of it and use this time to be productive AF…I mean, it seems like everyone else has. But I just simply don’t feel inspired to create as I did. I’m not finding this pandemic as a window of fun or a time to film: 2 YouTube vids, 3 Tik-Toks, a blog post, or try-on haul. Hell, it took me almost a month to write this damn piece. I feel among the lines of “lazy,” “undisciplined” and “unmotivated,” but I know those are not the words to use. Though, I see so many cute trends circulating, I just feel so damn distant to it all.

Does that make sense? I’ve been stuck in this weird middle ground of acknowledging my privilege of staying home and the blessing of good health but also mourning my ability to be one, care-free with the outside world.

I remember on week 2, I finally had the urge to finally feel some sun and join bae on his walks with our pup. But unfortunately, because of where we live, there is still much foot traffic in the streets so it was NOT a pleasant experience, to say the v least.

And it was on this day, when I had an epiphany.

That night I saw this quote that said, “sometimes God holds you back until the road is safe and clear to continue. Be thankful for the stall! What is meant for you won’t pass you by.

LIKE DAMNN! Is this not so specific to life rn?!?

We were over here initially mourning a life that “would have been” but were looking at it, in a very romanticized frame of thinking. Had we went through with the move, our live’s would be even MORE limiting. We wouldn’t have the luxury of driving anywhere we wanted but instead would be forced to walk, which is like something (as I mentioned) that is a HUGE trigger for me. Hell, not to mention, NYC being THE epicenter of the virus, CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW MUCH MORE OF A MESS I WOULD BE THERE. I truly don’t know how my mental health would stay afloat in this current state. Additionally, I think it would feel like a very restricting life. To know we risked it all, to travel during the shut down, get to NYC to start this “new, exciting life,” just to be stuck in this 500 square foot apartment…BIG YIKES. That would be such a terrible way to begin this new chapter in our lives, OOOO and HELLLLO, how much more at risk I would be every single day! I’ve heard my own New Yorker friends say they miss New York. That right there just puts this whole thing into perspective.

As the weeks now have turned into months, I’ve learned so many things. 1) I’m one strong ass bish for working through all the crazy emotions of this experience so far. For more days than I’d like to admit, I couldn’t help but compare my productivity to others. I felt soooo inadequate seeing so many people “thrive” in this time vs me struggling to do the damn bare minimum. But, again what took me some time to understand is 2) grief looks different on everyone. Some people over function, busy themselves, and complete tasks head-on when facing trauma, grief, anxiety, powerlessness. Some people (MEEEE!!!) under function, slow down, internalize, & need rest. Both are valid and respectable ways to cope. Neither is right or wrong. And 3) though this is a collective experience, this is also a very unique experience. It all comes in waves. No day will feel like the next. Some good days, and some very confusing ones too. And that’s okay! In fact, 4) the most productive days are the ones where I find the peace of “just being”. Not mourning “what could have been,” not mourning “what was,” but actually just being, in the here and now. 5) The inability to follow through with the move was indeed a blessing in disguise. God kept us safe in LA.

To this day, this was the hardest decision I’ve ever made… and then the hardest to accept too, because this was years in the making. We were so careful in our planning of this, never in a million years did I expect our dream to take such a turn. I’d be lying, if I said we haven’t tortured ourselves by watching old vids of us in the city, replaying our NYC playlist, and asking ourselves a million times if this was the best decision for us, (especially now, as states are beginning to re-open). But ultimately, this just wasn’t our time. I find solace in knowing God has a plan and even though it didn’t work out (BIG F*CKING CRY) does not mean it won’t happen…just not right now.

I’m thankful that we’ve been documenting on the backend the “Goodbye LA, Tribute”,  for the past couple months (b roll of LA, our experience with prepping for the move, finding an apartment, etc) but we also recorded when shit hit the fan, so to speak, as it was raw and happening in real time! So stay tuned for a very interesting video!

I am also thankful God spoke to us before it was too late. God didn’t want our new lives to be filled with fear, anxieties, and chaos, if even for just a while. He wanted us to live freely, in his bounty. So if anything, this time has only strengthened our calling to the city. We just can’t wait.

It most certainly could be worse, but it’s hard when you feel so much for the world and then bam, it also hits you close to home too! I just want to say that although, the cases are decreasing, it is still okay to be angry, it is still okay to be sad, it’s still okay to feel all the range of emotions.

Many of our stories are being rewritten right now and it’s scary as hell. But please remember: “NOTHING CAN DESTROY THE PLAN GOD HAS FOR YOU, NOT EVEN A PANDEMIC.”

I can’t wait for the day where we can freely live again. And I most certainly can’t wait for the day where we will, “wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep.” But until then: LA, I am embracing you w/ open arms.

Thank you angels for all the support during this time! Love you all! We are in this mess, together 😭

How to Travel On a Budget

“To travel is to live” Legit one of my fav quotes ever! I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the first time I’ve ever truly felt alive was when I first traveled abroad. But let’s face it, traveling is a luxury! And most people just don’t have it like that!

So in order to make traveling more feasible, I’ve decided to share/backdown what has helped me in planning/budgeting for my travels.

Since this topic was highly suggested, let’s jump right in!

The biggest question I receive is: “How much should I have saved up for a trip like this?

So it really depends on where you are going, some countries are legit so expensive (I could cry) but others can be very reasonable!

To be safe, I always say to give yourself a $2,000 limit when booking a trip abroad.

But considering I have lived and traveled throughout Europe, I will recommend ways in which you can stay under that amount (wellllll, assuming you agree to really ball on a budget).

And I say this because I know many people who only travel in luxury but in all honestly, you can still have the time of your life while watching your pennies, okurrr.

But be forewarned: these amounts are based off of MY experiences in EUROPE, no where else.

ROUNDTRIP AIRFARE ~ $600

This should be the largest lump sum of your trip. And the first matter of business in your planning. You don’t always have to fly in and out of the same country but keep in mind you will have to plan the in-between flights.

I suggest purchasing a non-stop flight as many sites will try to trick you into a good deal but one that has a gnarly layover in a random country, so be thorough with your search.

You will find a reasonably priced non-stop if you are patient. I have made the mistake of booking welllll in advance and honestly, I found much cheaper tickers for the same flight closer to the date. Airlines take advantage, y’all! So be smart with how you book! I say, a good time to book a flight is 2-3 months in advance. Oh, and ALWAYS PURCHASE INSURANCE! The extra $12 is so worth it!

Useful Sites: (Hover for links)

Google Flights

Skyscanner

CheapOair

Orbitz

Expedia

(These sites will compare prices for you, however, sometimes it is cheaper just to go through the specific airline itself)

& In my opinion: Norwegian Air  has had some of the cheapest roundtrip flights into Europe that I’ve seen.

STAY: ~ $350-$600 (Based on a 7 night stay)

Once you have solidified your roundtrip flight, the next order of business, I would suggest booking, is your stay(s).

Now, this is where your budget can significantly be affected.

I say: stray away from hotels. Your best options are either highly rated hostels or Airbnb’s. If you are looking into hotels, be well prepared to spend over $150 a night!

You can find hostels that offer private rooms for as little as $20 Euro per person if you are in a group of 2 or more and entire Airbnb’s for less than $75 a night.

Or if you are a solo traveler: you can choose to stay at a hostel as well, but in a common room and you’d also only be looking at $20-35 euro a night. This is a great way to save and meet other travelers! I’ve gone this route plenty of times with random groups of other women but also men!

But remember: this amount can vary dramatically by the city and/or accommodation method you choose. But the good thing here, is that this total amount most likely will be split amongst you and your traveling buddies.

Side note: London & Paris tend to be the more pricier of countries( for hostels at least) but we found the dreamiest Airbnb in Paris for only $70 a night! So it really depends.

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FOOD: ~$300-$450

Again, this is another area which can highly affect your budget!

If you plan on eating at the hottest restaurants in town and drink your days away, this price budget may not be for you!

But it is possible if are choosy with how and where you dine.

You are traveling, so of course, #treatyoself! BUT, be strategic about it.

Breakfast: Pastries will be your best friend. I know in America, we are used to the grand All-American breakfast: eggs, bacon, toast, avocado, the works! But in Europe (and I’m sure many other regions) breakfast is not as heavy. However, I have seen Europe begin to implement our style of breakfast.

So, in order to save, buy yourself a few pastries to fill up until lunch. We are talking a couple bucks per pastry.

Lunch: Some easy pizza, panino, sandwich, etc ~$10.  I know it may be tempting to have a midday bougie lunch or sangria (which is fine) but I say wait for dinner to do this.

Dinner: This is where you can splurge! I def like to map out a few days of the trip to do this but keep in mind, splurging every night can easilyyy take you well off of your budget. A glass of wine, sure, but this doesn’t mean it HAS to be at the trendiest place in town! Don’t underestimate hole in the wall locations! I’ve found some of the YUMMIEST restaurants that were still 5 course meals but under $15 a person. Yelp will be your best friend!

Dessert: This is also where ya girl splurges! Gelato, Nutella anything, hot chocolate, crepes, etc.

Alcohol: So inserting my opinion heavily on this one but alcohol is one of the easiest ways to break your budget.

I say, limit yourself to some wine at dinner and maybe a couple nights out at the local bar, but save what you would have spent on drinks, to pay for an extra day of (exploring connecting flight, activity, etc). And I say this because you can drink all you want back in your home country, but if you’re on a budget, you can reallocate your money towards the real adventures. BUT, this does not mean, don’t drink. Something I’ve done in most of the countries I’ve visited is simply head to the local supermarket and pick up a few bottles of wine (usually $2-$4 a piece) or mini liquor bottles and enjoy them for a night in or just bring them with me for night time picnics, late night strolls, etc.

Side note: There are so many different cuisines throughout Europe so don’t feel bad if you aren’t eating that particular country’s cuisine every single night. Asian and Mediterranean cuisine are quite popular and inexpensive options as well!

CONNECTING FLIGHTS/TRAINS:  ~$300 (OPTIONAL)

One of the things I love so much about Europe, is that travel amongst cities/countries is relatively cheap. Usually you can find roundtrips for under $100.

Cheapest options:

Airline Sites:

Ryanair

Vueling

WOW Air

EasyJet

Norwegian  

Train Sites:

GoEuro

HappyRail

(Here you can search and compare for the cheapest train options for your destination country)

CITY TRANSPORTATION: ~$100

In Europe, (at least) be prepared to walk, and A LOT! BUT… there will be days when you will need a metro, tram, taxi, and/or bus ticket. Each of these will likely cost ($1.50-$3.00 a piece, excluding taxis) So if you’re looking to explore the entire city, these small amounts can and will add up! Unlike the US, one pass is only good for one stop. Many people aren’t aware of this and get fined a hefty amount. PRO TIP: VALIDATE YOUR TICKETS FOR EACH STOP! So many of us (myself included at one point) have tried to beat the system and just sneak on but I highly discourage this (we did eventually get a 100 EUR fine!) From what I was told, many cities have been stricter on their public transportation so just be safe and cover your bases. As an alternative, some cities do offer City passes that you can purchase in bulk (which would avoid you having to purchase a ticket each and every time you ride).

SHOPPING/SOUVENIRS: ~$20

I personally do not shop abroad, unless its an item, I absolutely need. I use the same logic here that I do with alcohol. I can shop back home and instead allocate that money towards my adventures. However, if you are really dying to shop, most cities usually have cheap flea markets that you can potentially pick up some finds.  If you are looking to bring home some souvenirs, I suggest something small but thoughtful: postcards,  certain packaged foods from that region, etc.

IF YOU ARE A BLOGGER: ~$50 (OPTIONAL)

You may need to allocate some funds for outfits and props. I would suggest thrifting and/or working with brands/hotels to help alleviate the costs.

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IN SUM: ~ $1,500-$2,000.

SOO obviously this budget is not a one size fits all model, BUTTTT I swear, it’s what has worked for me.

I hope this break-down encourages any of y’all who view travel as impossible at the moment, as something that can actually be attainable…when done right!

Happy travels, y’all! Xo

Owning Who You Are

So, aside from this topic being close to my heart, I’ve also gotten several requests to expand on this on the blog! So, yay!

If you know me well, you’d know that I’m really unapologetically me. And although this has gotten me in soo much trouble in my life (LOL ugh), I feel blessed to have accepted and loved myself from a really young age. I mean, after alllll, we spend more time with ourselves than we ever will spend with anyone else in life.

Owning who you are is a complex matter. There is our inner and outer self. Do our inner and outer selves align? This is a huge question. Your inner self pertains to your values, personality, thoughts, etc. Where as your outer self is what we present to the world; this can include our physical appearance as well.

To me, having a strong inner self is reflected through self-awareness, knowing what you want in this life, being mindful of your feelings, and having clarity in handling them. I think a strong sense of outer self is having the ability to act in ways that avoid putting up a facade for others- aka behaving in ways that differ from what you ultimately feel on the inside. *Aligning both inner and outer self is important because I think this is where our personal happiness meets. *

Okay, so now I’d like to dive a bit deeper. Let’s backtrack to 5th grade. This year was possibly one of the biggest turning points in my life. On this particular day, my parents gave me the two options that forever changed me. Okay, so earlier that day during “weigh-ins,” my P.E. teacher was going around the circle giving everyone their weight for reference. When he got to me, he whispered my weight into my ear, and I instantly became the laughing stock of the class. But in that moment, I wasn’t nearly as embarrassed as you would think. I was actually annoyed at my teacher for attempting to exclude me from the general group practice rather than the kids making fun of me. I mean, I knew I had newly developed hips, but I wasn’t an at-risk overweight youth. So anywayyy. When I got home I remember asking my parents, “why do I look so different than all of the other girls in school?” And my parents then presented me with two options. “Well, Jasmin, you could either embrace your body and all that you are or embrace your body and all that you are. Which one will it be?” And I’m pretty sure that conversation molded my confidence and self acceptance going forward.

As the years past, I kept that conversation close to my heart. And from that young age, I did an inventory check of myself. Who was I? At the time, I gathered that I was stubborn, loud, fiercely passionate, sassy (aka extra), independent kid. And honestly not much has changed. Anyway, I attended three different middle schools. Now I would hate to use the word “bullied” (as I always stood up for myself) but lets just say, some days were torture!! I was picked apart because of my appearance, my extra ass personality, and everything in between. There were even days that I would eat lunch alone-but honestly, that didn’t bother me much; my lonely ass would happily eat my food in peace. But the thing I noticed about these people, is that they were bothered that I wasn’t cracking. Of course there were one or two times that I felt overwhelmed, but I had to remind myself about that 5th grade conversation. If I did not accept, own, and defend who I really was, then I’d be leaving room for other’s to make that decision for me. I truly believe if you are secure in who you are, no rumor, no shitty person, no event will shake you!

And I know some people may say that being secure in your own skin is much easier said than done, but I say that is the only choice you have. You can either own who you are or own who you are! There is no other option!

Believe me when I say, I’ve gotten into a lot of sh*t because of who I am (eeek) but at the end of the day, I know that my inner and outer self (for the most part) align…and hell, I know I’m a bad ass. Don’t allow comparison, shitty people, or doubt hinder your ability to own and love who you are!

If you are struggling with self acceptance, I’d advise to re-frame the ways in which you speak to yourself. Possibly list down the pros and cons of who you are, ask yourself if your actions and presentation to others mirrors what you really feel on the inside, and remember that you have to live with yourself for the rest of your life, so might as well love (clap) thy (clap) self (clap) !! Xo

How to Stay Positive During an Injury

As many of y’all know, I sprained my ankle this week 😦 The sprain is considered a grade III sprain, so ya girl has not been able to walk in like a week! The injury stemmed from bad form at the gym and it has been such a struggleee! Watching your time and weekly goals slip through your fingers can cause even the most resilient of us to spiral into frustration.

Today is day 6 in bed but its felt like an ETERNITY, FAM!! The first word that came to mind, (aside from all the curse words) was, “inconvenience.” Not only am I sidelined from the gym and my 9-5, but most importantly I am disabled from going out and shooting some new content!

On the onset of the injury, I still forced myself to go out and shoot, but joke was on me, because I woke up the next day extremely swollen and in agonizing pain! Panic & anger overcame me! As a creative, not being able to do what you identify the most with is always frustrating! As much as the physical pain hurts, the inability to create, feels even that much more painful! I had so many scheduled shoots, location ideas and collabs that needed to be executed. UGHH!

And even though, I am not even half way healed, heck, I still can’t even walk on the damn foot, I’ve come to finally accept what cards I’ve been dealt.

So as everything does happen for a reason, what is the light of the end of this tunnel?

This is the question, I had been asking myself for the past couple of days.

So here are my 5 reasons, an injury can actually be beneficial to your life and well-being.

  1. Grow a new appreciation for your body 
    • I mean why did I ever complain before? Haha! In all seriousness, the human body is so magical and now more than ever, I see how ungrateful I was for all that I could do with it.  I miss my normally functioning legs, y’all!! These crutches have not been kind to me 😦
  2. Mastering your perspective on shitty situations 
    • As much as I’d like to sulk around all day, I’ve tried my best to shake off all of the negative energies and focus on the progress I’ve been making!
      • Day 6 and I am now able to wiggle my toes!! YAS!
    • Instead of wondering, “what if I get worse?” I am saying positive affirmations aloud! E.g: “I will get better everyday!”
  3. Plot your comeback
    • THIS! THIS! THIS! As bummed out as I was, I have planned out the exact content I will be creating! Scratch what I had in mind before, I will be pushing the boundaries on my new stuff & let me tell you, it’ll be f*cking dope!
    • Part of me sees this as a blessing because before, yes, I had a vision in mind but now I’m yearning for something even greater.
  4. Trust the process
    • UGH, this can be so hard! I am one of the most impatient people I know! I hate when things don’t go as planned so trusting in the chaos is for sure easier said than done! And to be honest, all I want to do to get back out there and shoot if even for 20 mins a day! But as I learned, that’ll only bite me in the ass!
    • So in order for me to embrace what is happening, I have to trust in the unknown. Of course it’s scary, but hey, the unknown has it’s own way of working, and most of the time, for the best!
    • I know this may sound crazy, but I try to think what could have happened to me, if this injury did not occur. How about if I was shooting on a street, and a car missed the stopped sign and hit me? Or how about if I was biting off more than I could chew and had a breakdown? I know these are extreme, but maybe just maybe this injury prevented those situations from occurring!!

 

*I hope this read is helpful for anyone who is in the same predicament! My biggest take from all of this is to be kind to yourself, hard I know, but we will get through this! Xo 

 

5 Ways To Keep Negative Energy Out Of Your Relationship

Heyyy guys! So with the demands of the 9-5, social media, our nation’s climate, and so on, it can be very easy to get sucked into these negative vortexes. Especially when you share your time with another person, it’s so important to understand how these negative energies can detract from the happiness within your relationship.

The spread of these negative energies invites toxicity, annoyances, and unhealthy behaviors into the dynamic. But through stimulating the flow of positive energies/practices, you’re creating an inviting and appealing environment.

Here are my top 5 favorite practices.

1. Pray/Meditate together

  • If even for two minutes, pausing the chaos to center your thoughts can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain as well as calm the fight or flight reactions. For us, prayer is huge. We ask for direction and clarity but also extend our gratitude.

2. Identifying the negativity 

  • Is the attitude, behaviors, tone, etc. caused from outside tensions (the media, work, friends, family) or is it stemmed from something occurring within the relationship? Regardless of the catalyst, it is important to acknowledge/pin-point the issue.

3. Address tension(s) then and there

  • Super important! I am a firm believer in voicing what issues are at hand and working through them, ASAP. My biggest advice is not to go to sleep upset. We all know the couples who prefer to sweep issues under the rug vs confronting them head on with their partner. But this is soo problematic, because if you’re feeling your energetic connection is out of whack, it is likely that there is healing to do.
  • When there is lack of resolution, this can slowly lead to the demise of a relationship. So all this to say, even if the conversation is uncomfortable, it’ll be worthwhile in the long run.

4.  Experience new adventures together

  • I think the best way to free of negative energies is to travel! If you feel this thickness around you, plan a day-trip together and head that way. Seeing new stimuli is incredibly healthy. I know for us, our worries melt away once we see something new.

5. Build together

  • Working towards a common goal helps create commonality and trust. Whether it is a passion project, DIY home fix, or even the desire to move up in your respective companies… depending on each other for support, creates a focus for an even stronger dynamic/bond. For us, my boo is my photographer and go-to for shoots, blog ideas, etc. He believes in my content just as much as I do, and we work together everyday in attempts to build my social media presence.

 

*Okayyy, enough blabbering. I hope these tips are helpful and provide some sort of relationship Feng Shui or Spring (welll, Summer) cleaning of your relationship interactions. 

How Being With the Right Partner Should Boost Your Confidence

Recently I had a conversation with an old friend which compelled me to write this piece.

As we were catching up, she was expressing how happy she was to see me happy. And not the fake illusion of happiness some of us display on social media, but the recent genuine confidence she saw in my smile the few times I’ve posted with my man. She explained that before in my past relationship, she sensed “something was just off.” And she was right. As I mentioned in previous posts, I was not in a healthy relationship. In simple terms, we just were not the right fit for each other, and to almost overcompensate for what we lacked, I guess, I tried to convince myself and others (through my posts) that things were alright. And this is something, I think that many of us have unknowingly done at one point or another. It’s just that some people are able to call “BS” on this illusion we put out. Back then, I felt as if my passions were not important. My ambitions were knocked down at times and hence, the value I thought I brought to this world was suppressed. I began to analyze myself differently and double think on essentially anything I stood for.

I was not only lacking confidence on an individual and creative level, but also on a relational level. When there is instability and uncertainty in the relationship, it is hard to  maintain confidence in the relationship. You wonder how much longer either one of you can take.

I think it is not only important to be with someone who is supportive in all of your ventures, but also with someone who shares the same interests and morals as you. In this way, your partner can appreciate the avenues you decide to take on and even find enthusiasm in joining you in some of them! In addition, finding a partner whom you have built stability and cohesiveness with, enables an environment where both partners can feel fulfilled and assured. When your thoughts and feelings are validated, you are reminded that you are important and cared for, thus your partner is helping nurture the relationship.

In short, my friend was right! In retrospect, I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. And although, this process begins within, meeting the right person can most definitely compliment and boost your overall morale.

Knowing You Are Enough

“Am I enough?”

A notoriously toxic question yet one that is often still asked.

Recently I went through an experience that made me come so close to question, if I was enough.

Unfortunately, many of us at one point or another, have had the tendency to focus on what we lack versus taking inventory of what we already possess. It can be extremely easy to do so, especially, when we use social comparisons to determine our own worth based on our perceptions of how we stack up against our peers.

I felt compelled to share this experience because we all need a little reminder every now and again.

About a week or so ago, I was a runner-up for an opportunity I was anxiously awaiting for quite some time! I literally put forth (what seemed like) my blood, sweat, and tears into this as I knew just how many doors this would have opened up for me. I prayed, manifested, and worked my butt off to make this potential opportunity a reality. Even though I had the green light throughout the entire process, I was told last minute that they decided to go with the other individual. Now initially, I was in shock. And for a brief moment, the insecurities set in. I had to stop myself from asking “So what was wrong with ME? Why wasn’t I eno…?” But then I had to quickly remind myself that I gave this my all. No matter their decision, I’m still very much enough.

I think many of us gauge our worth based on certain situations but we must remember that regardless of others’ perspectives of us, regardless of where we are in our lives, and regardless of the way relationships unfold, we must give ourselves internal validation that we are more than enough, as is. When we give life our very best, I am certain it is recycled back to us tenfold later down the line.

Even though, this other person was a “better fit” for this opportunity, it by no means meant I was lacking. We have to realize we hold all that we ever will need, within ourselves. My worth should not be and is not contingent on this opportunity. Knowing we are enough is the first conversation we should be having with ourselves every morning. If we allow ourselves to look outward for qualities that can only be found within, we will be searching for a lifetime. I think situations like this one, are designed to mentally strengthen our perceptions of our inner-selves. They are reminders that no matter what disappointments come our way, we should have no other option but to love and accept who we are, for all that we are and for all what we have and know. By doing this, we will be able to find inner peace.

Tips that have helped me:

  1. Love yourself always, always, always!
  2. Have daily conversations/positive affirmations with yourself
  3. Learn/appreciate the value you bring to this earth
  4. Let go of toxic relationships/situations that make you doubt yourself
  5. Spend more time with yourself- be mindful of who you really are

XO

How to Cope with Anxiety

In recent days, I’ve seen fellow bloggers and friends share their stories and it has inspired me to share a little bit more about myself…

Now before I give my take on the issue, I would like to just preface with that I am obviously not a doctor nor am I speaking on behalf of everyone who has suffered from anxiety, I am simply sharing my story and what has worked for me (:

Ever since I was young, I’ve favored structure and set plans, very, very much. I’ve been known to overthink many situations in my life but figured I was just more of a worrier than others. But the thought of labeling that worry as a “disorder,” never crossed my mind.

5 years ago, I was beginning my first week as a college sophomore. The work load was light and all was well! I grabbed my first coffee of the school year and headed to the library. About half way through my cup, I noticed my heart rate was accelerating by the second. A few moments later, my throat felt like it was closing in, and my chest tightened. I thought, “whoa, okay maybe I’m just getting jittery because I drank too much, too fast.” Unfortunately, for the next 12 hours, I experienced this same ugly feeling. Throughout each class, I could barely hold my pen up to take notes, I had to step outside several times to get some fresh air, and my stomach was in knots! By 8PM, I was legit scared. What the hell was going on? It couldn’t have been the coffee, because coffee was my lifeline freshman year! I wasn’t stressed about school or really anything in particular so it couldn’t of been a panic attack, right? I was left so confused as I never experienced something like this.

The next day, I figured I would try a new Green Tea the café offered. And within the hour, BOOM! The same sh*t happened for hours on end! At this point I couldn’t help but to feel frustrated and wonder what this was?

For the next three days, the symptoms came in waves…3 hours here, 5 hours there. It was pure misery. I literally could not take it anymore.

I went to see a doctor and explained my symptoms and past history. Since caffeine was a common denominator in the past week, she explained that caffeine has the ability to exacerbate anxiety and other stress-related signs. The symptoms I was experiencing was in fact panic attacks but she was surprised I had never experienced one prior to this week. Since she was unsure herself why this was, she suggested I try this antidepressant medication (one, I can’t remember the name of) which, “would alleviate all of the symptoms”. If I continued to have the symptoms after two weeks of use, she suggested that I continue with it. Now I did zero research prior to going in but was so desperate to feel “normal” again, I agreed on taking it. I was so ignorant on mental health and pharmaceutical drugs I had no idea what I was in for. Those following weeks were some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.

I believe it was around day 3 when my entire mood shifted. Naturally, I am a social extrovert. Especially in school, I loved being outdoors near our beach and meeting up with friends in between classes. I remember as each day passed on this medication, I found it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. I was becoming sad and found little to no energy to go to class or work. Since mental health or antidepressants were such an unfamiliar topic to me and to be honest, taboo, (especially 5 or so years ago) I did not share what was going on with me to my friends or even my roommate. I would hide my medication and take it only while she was not home. I remember cancelling on friends with a BS excuse, all because I simply did not have the energy to get out my apartment. I had difficulty in explaining how I felt to my mom and told her I just did not feel myself. But I kept with it for a number of days after because I legit feared of having another attack.

It was day 12/14 when I woke up in the AM, to dark thoughts. I could not take it anymore. This was not me. I rushed myself to urgent care and told the doctor what I was thinking and how terribly awful I felt while on the medication. I demanded I was taken off of it and at this point did not care if an attack came on. These thoughts were not worth it to me.

She then explained how medication may not work for everyone and then suggested I try alternative methods like meditation, counseling, outdoor physical exercise, journaling, and of course, ditching caffeine altogether.

Just the very next day, I felt back to myself again. As happy as I was because of this, I was also just as upset that this mental health professional immediately prescribed me medication. As I did further research and educated myself on the matter, I found that the alternative methods the Psychiatrist suggested to me after the fact, should have been the first line of treatment.

All this to say, since then I have not experienced panic attacks to that capacity. Every few months or so, however; I do still feel an attack coming on so I will now share what I’ve learned from those few counseling sessions and what has worked for me with dealing with the constant “worry” or anxiety of the day to day.

  1. Cut out all caffeine: coffee, decaff coffee, green tea, iced tea, Matcha, etc.
    • This one has been so hard for me, lol! I miss coffee sooo soo much but an 8 hour attack is not worth one cup of goodness.
  2. Meditate: In your own space, group classes, outdoors, etc.
  3. Briefly talk yourself out of it: May seem easier said than done, but I just talk to myself in third-person in attempts of centering myself again.
    • For example: “Jasmin! You will be okay, just breathe. Relax, take a walk, you’ll be fine.”
  4. Spend more time outside: Going outdoors, especially in the midst of an attack, def distracts me in the moment and without realizing, the attack often goes away.
  5. Distract yourself: I found that by focusing all my energy and efforts into an attack, often times makes it worse. Acknowledge it but still try to move on with your day and plans.
  6. Realize that worrying will not change a situation: This one, of course is a work in progress for me but it is pertinent to remind yourself this.

 

The list can go on and on, but I wanted to highlight those that have helped me the most. I’m aware treatment is by no means, a one size fits all solution, and that I do not suffer from crippling anxiety or have even faced severe mental health issues, but my hopes are by sharing my experience, I can at least start a conversation. On a general basis, I think our society focuses so much on physical health yet the topic of mental heath still remains in the shadows. Let’s all be proactive in looking after our own mental health as well as educating ourselves on such a sensitive topic. Xo

Get To Know Me: Q & A

If you are new to Alll That Jas, welcome! Thus far, I have shared a number of wellness tips, yummy recipes, random thoughts, relationship advice, and travel recommendations. But as a way to get a better feel of who I am, I thought a Q & A would be fun!

I asked my followers on social media to send any questions they had for me and I will be answering them here today!

  1. What is your daily makeup routine?
    •  To be honest, I only wear a full face of makeup during the weekends. M-F I am very fresh faced. All this to say, I only wear four products for my every day look. First, I moisturize with Olay’s Complete All Day UV Moisturizer SPF 15 Sensitive Skin. Next, I apply a generous amount of Vitamin E Moisturizing Skin Oil onto the palm of my hands and spread the oil evenly to the base of my neck. Then, I use a small amount of Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation and with a blending brush, use circular motions to cover the entirety of my face, blending into my hairline and bringing it down to my neck. Finally, I apply L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara to coat my lashes.
  2. Where am I planning on traveling to next? 
    • At the end of the year I am heading to Europe. I will be visiting Greece for the first time and revisiting Italy and France. Next year, I will be heading to the Middle East to venture throughout Egypt!
  3. What inspired you to start your blog?
    • Hm, well. I have always considered myself an open book. I love sharing stories and connecting to people in real life. But I found myself suppressing my more creative side. I had friends over the years, tell me that I should write articles or short stories of my experiences, as I was able to tell them in such an amusing way. And for years, I kept archived, various YouTube videos I filmed discussing certain topics all because of this false idea that vulnerability was bad. I feared, “what if people think I’m too much or completely disagree with my perspective on things?” For a good amount of time, I was disappointed in myself for allowing fear to inhibit my potential. It took some tough loving from my best friend to give me the push I needed to finally break that invisible glass ceiling I created for myself. I don’t think I had ever been more uncomfortable than the night I launched my blog. And when I say uncomfortable, I mean I was really going outside of my comfort zone there. I was very familiar with sharing among my inner circle but definitely not much more outside of that. But as one post was published after the other, the process began to feel very organic and eventually comfortable. Throughout this past year, I have connected to so many people, many of whom I barely knew prior to this blog. So my advice, do not let the fear of vulnerability or critique stop you from growing!
  4. What is your ethnicity?
    • HA! This is a long one. My parents are originally from Central America, but they are both only half. My mom also has Egyptian, Italian, and German blood while my dad is half Spanish.
    • But my entire life I’ve been mistaken for Indian or Persian.
  5. If you had to choose the same meal to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?
    • PHO! I have a sick obsession with Asian food as a whole but pho takes the cake. I’ve def had pho a couple days in a row, on several occasions but not too long ago, I legit had pho 4 nights straight…not proud of it! HA.
  6. What are your favorite shows of all time?
    • Dexter
    • Parks&Recreation
    • How to Get Away with Murder
    • Shameless
    • Breaking Bad
    • Sons of Anarchy
  7. What is your zodiac sign and do you think it fits your personality?
    • I am an Aries, through & through! My horoscope absolutely fits my personality. Aries are known to be confident, honest, and passionate but also impulsive, aggressive, and impatient. All this to say, guilty & guilty!
  8. What is your biggest pet peeve?
    • When people bulls**t. I respect honesty, even if its unfavorable. I guess that’s the Aries in me because we are very blunt and direct so when I feel someone is beating around the bush, I am able to call BS from a mile away!
  9. Do you have any phobias?
    • Raccoons! All I will say is I had a bad experience when I was younger in Summer camp, lmao. I’ve come to realize they are nasty and vicious so whenever I see one, I legit have a freak out!
  10. What is your life goal?
    • Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to have an influential platform. In Kindergarten, I filled out a questionnaire which it’s first question was, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” And my answer was, “KNOWN.” Throughout my teenage years, I wanted to be a vocalist. In college, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and now post-grad, I hope to create an online platform where I am able to work remotely allowing myself to travel. What I have found in common among these changing aspirations, is having the ability to use a public platform to reach and connect with others.
  11. If you could have a roundtable discussion with three people, dead or alive, who would it be?
    • 1) My dad. He passed away last year but way too young. He was full of wisdom and was the best story teller I knew.
    • 2) Cleopatra. I have always been intrigued by her trail blazing sovereignty. A queen in a Pharaoh’s world, how f***ing revolutionary.
    • 3) Louis Armstrong/Etta James. My all time favorite musical talents. I literally can not decide. True geniuses.
  12. Who is your favorite IG influencer?
    • @tezzamb – SHE IS A CREATIVE MUSE! Literally an icon in the making!
  13. What’s next for Alll That Jas?
    • The main focus for the blog is to continue to creative dope content. I want to engage with as many people as possible and partner up with unique brands…(which I am beginning to do).
  14. Where would you hope to retire?
    • Somewhere next to the water. Somewhere where life is slow.
  15. What would you hope most for yourself?
    • Consistent inner-peace. Namaste, y’all.  XO

 

My One Year Blogging Anniversary

A year ago today I officially launched this blog! Ahhhh, like for real, where has the time gone? A part of me feels like I’m still so new to this whole blogosphere with so much left to learn! The other part of me feels extremely comfortable and grateful of the growth I’ve seen in my writing and creativity thus far, so much that sharing with you all has become such a normal part of my life and one of the most dearest things to me.

For several years, I had suppressed the creative side of myself because of fear of others’ opinions. It was this decision to publish Alll That Jas that gave me the liberation of putting myself out there. And although I am only beginning to do so, I feel my creative energies are slowly but surely being quenched. The original purpose of this blog was to create an expressive outlet of my own, a passion project per say, to wind down after the 9-5. But as time as passed, I realized this has become more than a passion project for me. Blogging is absolutely the highlight of my day and has grown to become a part of who I am, (I know, dramatic…but really) I legitimately find so much joy sharing content and engaging with my readers.

This year, my New Year’s Resolution is to push my boundaries. I want to utilize my social media more than ever and this blog especially by sharing relatable yet original material. And there might be times when some people may not be able to relate, but my hope is to encourage dialogue and connect with as many people from as many backgrounds as possible, because isn’t that what community is all about?

Over this past year, I’ve seen this blog grow in so many ways.  First off, it looks quite different! I spent numerous hours playing around with designs and learning how to code some of it. I’ve toyed around with what categories I’ve felt most passionate writing about and also tracked which ones seem to be the most interesting for my audience. I’ve found that in the very beginning, I was struggling with what my next post would be. I would take a while and literally sit on a post for weeks at a time. As time has passed, I’m noticing so much more ease and confidence into every post I publish. In fact, I am finding myself writing up to 3 posts at a time, scheduling which post to publish first. This past year has been a lot of trial and error but I feel extremely excited with the direction of where Alll That Jas is going.

I have so many fun ideas on where to take the blog in my second year! I plan on posting tons of new beauty, outfits, and relationship content. But I am going to ask you as an audience most importantly, what would YOU like to see more of: travel, relationship advice, beauty tips, recipes, etc? PLEASE DO LET ME KNOW 🙂 

From the bottom of my heart, I just wanted to extend my highest gratitude to every single one of you who has taken the time to read my posts. In this digital age, we are so use to instant content that sometimes reading a full article, can be tiresome…so THANK YOU for dedicating the time out of your busy schedules! Every like, every comment, every follow gives me the continued motivation to push the boundaries!

We tend to limit ourselves because of fear of critique. Many of us have self imposed this “glass ceiling” by our own expectations and comparisons of where we should be. Are you limited by your own expectations of what’s possible for you? Let’s not create this invisible barrier to success, let’s just create! Creating Alll That Jas has been the biggest gift I could give myself. Through this, I have been able to tap into a side of myself I had been longing to meet! I have connected with peers in ways, I probably would not have otherwise.

I encourage any person who has allowed fear to be the barricade to their happiness, to step outside of their comfort zone and take a risk! Lord knows it took me quiet some time to do so.

I’d like to end things with my new favorite quote, “Great things never came from comfort zones.” This is my motto moving forward! And although, I am nowhere near my dream of becoming a full-time lifestyle influencer, I will continue to find joy and growth in my blogging. Great things are ahead and I can’t wait to have you guys along with me for the ride! Xo

How to Tell if He’s Really That Into you

It usually starts out something like this: *Screenshots convo* and attaches it to the group thread along with this question, “sooo this means, he’s into me, right?” Hoping for validation… us girls, love to analyze. 

A while back I wrote a piece on why it is okay to be single. I shared my transition into singlehood and openly discussed how that decision facilitated self-love. The purpose of the piece was to encourage any person who was in an unfulfilling situation, to embrace the idea of being alone.

I truly believe once you free yourself from the wrong kind of people, you will simultaneously be creating room for the good kind. Ironically, SOON after that piece was written, I began seeing a special someone.

Can you imagine, having made plans one week ahead with a girl who literally posts such a piece just days before your first date?

Today, I can honestly say, the past number of months have felt like a dream! Never did I think that I’d 1) be in a relationship at this point and 2) that that relationship would be the best relationship I have ever known.

From the get-go, he laid his intentions with me out of the table. I was not left questioning or guessing what he felt towards me. I did not experience that limbo, I had usually felt with every situation I was previously involved in.

Dating will show you many things but especially the great lengths someone will go when they are interested in you and of course the contrary. Navigating through this time can be tough! The question narrows down to: Who is a waste of time and who is an investment? And although I am an advocate of singlehood, I also want to express how it is okay to date and give your time and energy to a person, BUT only if he is showing you the listed behaviors below!

Maybe you’re enjoying his company, but his lack of effort or consistency, is concerning.

Maybe you’re opening up to the idea of being with him, but you’re worried about getting your heart broken, so you need the signs or reassurance that this has serious potential.

Or maybe you just don’t know what to call the current situation you are in, and would like to know once and for all: Are you casually dating or exclusive?

I can truly say this was the most seamless and genuine dating experience I’ve ever had. This being the case, I will list the main signs that a guy gives, when he is serious about you. 

 

  1. He will tell you.
    • Simple. And I don’t mean subtly, either. He will be clear and direct. Somewhere along the lines of: “Hey, these are my intentions with you…” xyz.
  2. He will take the initiative to make plans with you IN ADVANCE. 
    • And I don’t mean Netflix and Chill or “what do you want to do tonight?” We deserve much better than this! I’m talking about days, or even weeks out! Oh, and none of this “lets meet there,” crap. If he offers to pick you up, do that! Let him treat you like the lady you are!
  3. He will give you attention & lots of it!
    • You won’t have to worry about sending those double texts, or not hearing back from him for hours on end. He will continue to add to the conversation. Why? Because he enjoys talking with you. And for the times he’s tied-up, he will communicate that with you!
  4. He will surprise you. 
    • Whether it be with a date night, your favorite candy, a visit to your work, etc…he will go out of his way to put a smile on your face.
  5. He will be mindful.
    • He will be delicate with how he talks with you. He will be self-aware of his tone, jokes, and attitude.
  6. He will stimulate you…
    • And not just sexually! I’m talking about stimulating your mind and soul. Sharing ideas, jokes, dreams, aspirations, etc. Basically he will share his most intimate thoughts, beyond the surface level.

*Whew! Now, although this list is not all inclusive and arguably subjective, my hopes are to help steer women into the right direction. If he is not showing you any of these signs, I’d say you can’t afford it. Our energies should be on strict budgets! If it is not serving you at the highest potential, you don’t have that time to waste. All this to say, dating can be all too complicated, but if it is a genuine match, it won’t be. It will feel easy and develop organically!

Xo!

The Importance of Journaling

Sometimes when we think of keeping a journal, the “Dear Diary” entries we made in middle school might come to mind. Remember those days when we would admit our school crush or most embarrassing moments? I definitely do! Although I have kept up with a daily planner, I myself had been skeptical on a daily journal. Did I really have the time to reiterate the same thoughts and feeling I had shared throughout the day with friends and family?

But then I started to think, what was the purpose of writing in my diaries growing up? I still shared with friends back then but there was an added bonus in making entries that only my eyes would see. When journaling, the hustle and bustle of our everyday life remains still, if even for those moments, calling a wandering mind to attention – from chaos to actively working through our thoughts.

Sharing our thoughts aloud to our loved ones isn’t merely enough. Journaling brings you into this state of mindfulness, allowing you to be still. Designed for self-reflection, habit tracking, goal-setting, daily reminders, and inspiration. It is essentially a catalog into your personal achievements, both big and small, in which you have to refer back to.

Journaling gives you the ability to share your current frustrations and future anxieties, ambitions and goals, ones that may  even be too scary to share aloud; they essentially lose their edge in the present moment.

Here are the five benefits I’ve received through journaling.

  1. Accountability
    • Whether the subject be: diet, exercise, waking up earlier, limiting our alcohol intake per week, budgeting, etc. it is hard to keep track of our progress from atom. I am the type of person who will not take accountability or even notice for certain habits, unless they are recorded. Why is this? Because I have the worst memory ever!
      • As an example, this past year, I gave myself 2 allowances to eat out per week. Although few, there were times where I maxed my weekly allowance in one day. I noticed that the weeks when I slipped up, also happened to be the times when I failed to journal. On those days when I decide to grab food, (in my mind), I hadn’t ate out for a while, but in all actuality, when I referred back to my journal, I picked up a bagel (lets say for breakfast) just the day before.
  2. Manifesting
    • As you write and rewrite your goals daily, they allow you to review and hone in on what is important to you. The repetition of your aspirations, will eventually become ingrained into your subconscious mind. It will hopefully consume you and motivate you to act to make them your reality.
      • My 2017 New Year’s Resolution was to become more active. In the prior year, I failed to take the necessary steps in order to do so. Come Jan 2017, not only did I write down my weekly goal of working out 5x a week, but I also jotted down my workout routine for each day, along with a line for  a check mark (which indicated completed). The satisfaction of checking it off my list, motivated me to get up and go! Only I had that power to complete this goal of mine, and with this constant visual reminder, I was more likely to get up and do so!
  3. Navigating through emotions
    • How many of us could say we’ve been scatterbrained at times? More often than not we are pulled in multiple directions. At least for me, my mind is usually in a thousands places all at once! I’ve realized that difficult times, don’t always come in the most convenient of times.
      • In the midst of my break up (a little over a year ago), I was in between apartments and job hunting. Whenever a friend asked me how I was doing, I would say to myself, “I’m okay, I really don’t have the time to be sad.” Which in my mind, I didn’t… I was busy. But it’s in times like these where journaling is vital. Journaling even 5 minutes a day, allows for us to share our feelings privately and then heal the thoughts that make us retreat and suppress. Actively engaging with your feelings will reduce the emotional scatter in your life…freeing you from the mental entanglement we tend to get caught up in.
  4. Creativity
    • There are so many days where I find myself starring at a blank computer screen, while the cursor flashes, reminding me that I haven’t typed a word yet. Even if I have so many ideas in my head, there are times when nothing can be articulated. This in when I’ve found journaling exceptionally useful. With journaling, you can literally start off with a doodle, a word, or a phrase.  We can write freely, without thinking, really. This is just a way of unlocking our creative juices. I’d go so far as saying that journaling is a flashlight for my ideas. Within minutes, I usually am able to quickly grab my computer and write out a paragraph or two.
  5. Learning gratitude
    • It’s easy for us to come home exhausted after a full day. Especially when we have even more work to do around the house.
      • I’ve found that just spending a few minutes to jot down what you are grateful for within that day, truly helps shift your perspective. You may see that your not-so good day was pretty good after all.

 *“You don’t need to buy a fancy personal journal to record your entries in, worry about spelling or grammar, or even make fully thought out sentences. If you have not discovered these benefits for yourself, I challenge you to start tonight!

 

How to Deal with Loss

January 4, 2017.
It was as if time had froze.

Losing a parent is only the natural order of things and in my case was even something I was supposed to be prepared for, but I wasn’t.

For 7 years, 7 long years, I watched my dad slowly slip away. It’s really odd to mourn for someone while they are still alive. After every good-bye, I would internalize if that was the last. I would grow angry and anxious all at the same time, to the point where I would just suppress the thought and simply hoped for a miracle, in other words, I was in denial to what I was witnessing.

I feared so very badly of losing him for good. Even though my dad was no longer as I knew him, I could still hug him and hear his voice. But the thought of no longer having that was something I couldn’t accept. I was in anticipatory grief.

Come January 4th, 2017, I watched him take his last breath. It was a very confusing time. It was somehow the most ugliest sight I have witnessed yet there was so much beauty and peace surrounding that moment.

He was free. No longer chained to the chambers of his body.

Today, exactly one year later, I have found solace in knowing this. I’ve grown to realize that it never truly gets better, the void is never filled, and nothing said or done can bring that sunshine back. But rather, the loss is something you learn to live with.

Within the past year, I have tried to call his phone twice. The first time in hopes of him somehow picking up, and each time I called, the more I cried my eyes out. Sounds silly but grief is one hell of an emotion.

The second time was recently, actually. My roommate and I were experiencing maintenance issues in our apartment and I said aloud, “here, let me just call my dad, he’ll know what to do.” And without thinking I proceeded to call. In that moment, I felt a heaviness in my heart, because those moments will continue to happen for the rest of my life. But I believe that was a testament to how much his presence is still felt on Earth.

I may not physically have him here but his spirit is strong as hell. I can’t even count the  amount of times of when I’m deciding on doing one thing as opposed to another and I hear his fatherly tone as if he were standing right in front of me.

If you’ve experienced loss in your life, whether it be a friend, partner, or relative, I would suggest trying three things in times of grief.

  1. Continue their legacy
    • Share their stories and practices.
  2.  Talk to others  
    • In my network of friends, not too many people have experienced the loss of a parent (or so I assumed), so I’d found myself holding back because a part of me felt like others wouldn’t understand such grief, but that was not completely true. Throughout this past year, I’ve discovered a number of friends who’ve lost a parent, grandparent, sibling, etc. and had I not shared my experience, I probably would have never known that we had that commonality.
    • I’ve also connected with people whose parent(s) are ill and are not sure how to cope with their reality, so being able to share experiences with one another can be extremely cathartic.
  3. Talk to your angel/ watch for the signs of them communicating with you
    • Just because their physical being is no longer here does not mean their spirit is not among us. Dreams, people, scents, and even sightings of certain animals can all be ways your loved one is trying to communicate with you.
    • A few days after the funeral, I had to fly back to work. The man sitting next to me on the plane happened to look exactly like my dad! He wore the same cologne, the same style of Levi’s, and was bald just as my dad was. I was shook because it felt all too coincidental. I truly think it was my dad’s way of letting me know he would be with me on my journey back home.

So how to deal with loss? I really don’t have a straight answer. The only thing I can say is although it’ll never feel better, it will get easier. The void associated with losing a loved one, in my opinion, is both a heartache and a blessing. Although we can no longer share these moments with them, they are no longer hurting, and are simply at peace, which I’m sure, is something they’d hope for us to find.

How to Fight the Fear of Missing Out

Whether it’s a Snapchat story of one of our favorite influencers at a trendy lounge or a friend’s latest Instagram post of an adventure abroad, this constant exposure to things that are happening fuels our anxieties.

This desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing is a phenomenon known as FOMO: the fear of missing out. Here lies the threat that if we don’t participate in a certain activity, we will then miss out on some vital point of living.

Many of us have this erroneous belief that these plans will satisfy us, when in fact, FOMO is illusive.

Scrolling through happy status updates and scenic vacation shots often times leaves us with comparing our lives with those of our social media followers. The internet can show us all of the things we are not, what we have not accomplished and where we have not been.

Those social comparisons lead us to assume that these people MUST live more exciting lives than us. And those feelings of envy, ultimately, poses the question as to whether we will ever settle for what we have.

And this disturbs me in a way as I am absolutely guilty of this too.

Recently, my pastor touched on the subject.

He mentioned how our social anxieties and itch for inclusion, shifts our focus on looking outwards instead of inward.

If only we feared the void of a spiritual adventure vs one overseas…what if we were in as much of a pursuit of God as we are with our next adventure?

This question left me shook, as spirituality means something different to everyone: for some, it involves participating in organized religion and for others, it’s more personal.

But whatever it may mean to you, spirituality, includes a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves.

So I beg the question, what if we stopped seeking meaning and value through Instagram and it’s trendy photo opps and instead find purpose through our personal definition of spirituality.

Maybe if we practiced mindfulness and spiritual connectivity, will we then find that satisfaction that FOMO never quenches.

With an awakened sense of spirituality, we will never miss out. 

Just some food for thought! -Xo