Gratitude

How often do we wake up to a beautiful new day and instead of thanking God for waking up, we go straight to our phones? I know I have and continue to battle with this. Sometimes it feels like we are prisoners to our phones that we miss out on what really is important to us like our health, our families, our faith, our jobs, our homes, etc.  Let’s remember that there is someone out there praying to have what we take for granted.  

I think it is essential to be grateful every day but specially in trying times like now.  Find what works for you and get your grateful time on.  Some of us use a journal or simply verbalize it. Some of my deepest grateful sessions include tears and I really enjoy those moments. Grateful crying liberates my soul and I look forward to many more similar sessions.

Just for today, let’s stop complaining about what we don’t have, what we think we should have or what we think we deserve. Let’s stop complaining about the sudden changes at work, the lines at the grocery stores, not being able to go outside, etc.  There are people out there without jobs that do not know how they are going to feed their families tomorrow or how they are going to pay next month’s rent or mortgage. I know it’s hard not to have our normal lives and it’s more difficult for some of us than others but let’s take time to really focus on all the positive things in our lives.  God is always good and won’t give us more than we can handle, trust the process.

Gratitude Jar and Journal

20 Things I Wish I Knew In My 20’s.

Your twenties are to be enjoyed, to make mistakes and to start figuring out your future.

Your twenties are to be enjoyed, to make mistakes and to start figuring out your future. Here is just my personal list of things I wish I knew sooner or I wish I would have practiced a bit more in my 20’s.

  1. If you can only get one personal finance book, get The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. I prefer the audio version.
  2. If you live with your parents still (I know many who still do–thanks Salliemae), try to pay off as much debt as you can and or save as much as possible.
  3. Ride out that hooptie car until you can’t any more and if you can, avoid a car payment all together. “Act your wage.”
  4. You don’t have to attend every event you are invited to just because a friend or a close acquaintance asks. “No” is a full sentence.
  5. Sis, you don’t need a new dress for every time you go out, who do we think we are? Focus on less material purchases and more experiences.
  6. Only get a master’s degree if it’s going to move you to next the step in your career. Forget the letters, if there is no concrete benefit, skip it.
  7. Read as much as you can. Never stop learning.
  8. Try more hobbies, learn a new skill.
  9. Stop being so hard on yourself.
  10. Say yes to the things you are afraid of.
  11. Apply for that job you think you are not qualified.
  12. You do not need to keep relationships just because of the length you know people.
  13. Remove yourself from toxic people, family included. Anything that costs your peace is too expensive.
  14. Stop comparing yourself with your friends’ accomplishments, God knows your timing. A grateful mentality will take you far.
  15. Keep your personal business to yourself and your therapist, specially when speaking negatively about significant others during a fight. You might forgive but your friends and family won’t.
  16. Don’t just vacation but travel as well, learn something new about a different culture and share your own with them.
  17. Stop doing things you think you like for the gram. If you are more focused on capturing the moment, you are not enjoying the actual moment.
  18. Give back, even if it’s just with your time.
  19. Be conscious of your privilege whether in education, career, upbringing, big or small, and check yourself whenever you have to.
  20. When you learn something new and useful, share your knowledge, resources, and even your network with others. You are not the gatekeeper of useful information and connections.

Why you should refrain from asking “When are you getting married? When are you having kids?”

Holidays are fast approaching and with that comes gatherings and the intrusive questions. Here comes a written rant to hopefully make some of us think before we ask or make unwelcome comments. 

Holidays are fast approaching and with that comes gatherings and the typical intrusive questions. Here comes my written rant to hopefully make some of us think before we ask or make unwelcome comments.

Asking someone who has been in a long relationship when they are going to get married is almost on the same level as asking someone when they are going to have kids. First, it’s really none of your business, maybe the first question should be “do you want to get married?” and from their response you can continue to ask questions and not mind your business.

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I get it, especially in the Latino culture, it’s shocking to be in your late 20’s, early 30’s, or in a long term relationship and not be engaged, married or not have kids. Now, I have nothing against people engaged, married or with kids. I actually think it is amazing but everyone moves at their own pace. If a couple wants to get married 3 months after meeting on Tinder, hey–that’s them. If they want to get married 12 years after being together or never get married then that’s also their damn problem. It doesn’t affect your life whatsoever, it’s just that some of us are ingrained with the concept that our life cycle involves a relationship, a few years committed, ring, marriage, kids.

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Now, I am not saying I don’t want my boyfriend to be my husband, I really like how that sounds but it’s not my main priority in my relationship. I have been in a lonnng relationship and I think the fact that we have been able to work on the multiple ups and downs shows how much our love for each other is worth fighting for and no marriage license or ceremony is going to be more powerful than that. And no, I am not trying to diminish the value of this sacred communion (I’m not religious at all FYI). I think it’s great that many hold such level of value, passion and respect towards it but don’t assume everyone has to think like you, value things like you, or prioritize like you, that is where my issue lies.

I personally think the same applies to asking someone when they plan on having kids as if you are assuming they want any or they are not already trying. I know people who really are trying to get pregnant and they simply can’t at the moment and this intrusive question hits a nerve and may be hurtful.

For the ones who are not sure if they want any kids or maybe do not want any period, asking this question over and over becomes frustrating especially when you actually respond and say “at [insert age in 30’s] and they respond “oh no, you will be too old then and will not enjoy them.” So you wanted an answer, I gave you one, and now it’s not the right one–give me a break! Then, your question should have been “you are only getting older, shouldn’t you start having kids now?” to what I respond, in my head, “no the fuck I’m not” or “if it means my kids will turn out like yours, I’ll just sell my ovaries instead.”

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I think some people are getting better with this, but others insist with this question as if the creation of kids would somehow complete me, validate my existence, or make me happier.

But one of the reasons I am honestly writing this is the feeling I get when I am asked these questions. First, I don’t really care about how nosy you are, but there are times I get this feeling that I am being judged because I am not fulfilling an imaginary timing protocol. It’s like your question implies an attempt to define how my life should evolve. Or that for some reason, I am not good enough yet because I don’t have a ring on my finger, have a marriage certificate or kids. I know I have to work more on not caring what others think and work on not creating imaginary judgments passed upon me. But the people who also ask those questions should reflect a little more before asking them.

Are you asking because you genuinely care about my thoughts on my future family or are you asking to be nosy or to make a statement on how I should be planning my future and insinuating I should put more urgency in it. But urgency to what?

It’s 2018, it’s not like I am waiting to get married to lose my virginity or I have a life expectancy of 45 years–it always kills me when others say I’m too old to have kids and won’t enjoy them, what are they a piece of ice-cream? Are they going to melt as time passes?

Maybe the day will come and those who matter to the couple will know when it happens, I mean after asking such question did you expect the answer to be–well we think in 3 months but we haven’t announced it yet but thanks for asking, uh no honey, lol it’s not likely you are going to get that.

All and all, I think there are better questions to ask a person who is in a long relationship in their late 20s or 30s without assuming marriage or kids are the ultimate validation to it. Ask me how am I doing, if I’m happy, what makes me happy or ask me about my interests, my future plans and upcoming goals, that’s it. I think I make sense, right? Anyway, thanks for reading my rant, until the next post, chau!

Disclaimer: I know these questions are not always asked with bad intentions. Everyone is not intrusive and many do not speak from their preconceived stereotypes and judgments.

EMPOWERING OTHERS DOESN’T MEAN FORCING YOUR BELIEFS OF THE PERFECT LIFESTYLE UPON OTHERS OR EVEN ENCOURAGING THEM TO MIMIC THE PATH OF “THE BEST YOU.” THERE IS NO ONE WAY OF DOING THINGS.

5 Rules to Self Love

We have to divert the focus back on us and genuinely learn to love ourselves. Self love is the foundation of happiness and without it, it will be hard to give to others and make this world a bit better than before.

Self Love Takes Work.

In a world where comparison is more popular than quinoa or kombucha tea and authenticity is more scarce than tasty gluten-free pasta, we have to divert the focus back on us and genuinely learn to love ourselves. Self love is the foundation of happiness and without it, it will be hard to give to others and make this world a bit better than before. I struggle with this also but I know it’s a work in progress where we have to aim for continuous self accountability. So, here are 5 rules to consider in our journey to self love:

  1. It’s Okay to Put Yourself Before Anyone Else: Don’t let anyone make you believe you are selfish because you take care of yourself before others. Often, I see people giving their money, time and energy to others before they look out for themselves and consequently I see growing resentment in these situations. Your biggest investment should be in yourself so when you decide to devote anything to anyone else, make sure you have covered yourself already.
  2. Learn to Say No, Say No and Say it Again: I used to think saying no was easy, I am very good at saying no to invitations, causes, roles, etc. My mentality was be honest with yourself and others, if you can’t afford it, do not have the time or cannot devote enough energy to provide a quality outcome to what is requested from you, the answer is simple, “no sorry, I can’t this time.” Do not gamble with the “I’ll say yes now and figure it out later.” Remember your word is your bond and every time you take back on it, its value diminishes. Nonetheless, I find it extremely hard to say no when someone asks me for genuine help. Saying no gets better with practice. Check back to rule number 1 and remember by forcing yourself to any commitment sometimes does a disservice to both parties. You can always make more money but you can’t regain the time lost. Overall, remember that no, is a complete sentence. You owe no one explanations.
  3. Accept and Love your Flaws, or Change Them: Flaw by definition is a mark, fault, or other imperfection that mars a substance or object. So, it may seem strange to “accept” them but you must, in order to modify them. We all have walked by the mirror and thought about what we could improve. I’m not saying, “if you come to the conclusion you hate your a-cups, to go get surgery.” I mean, if by all means that is what you want, who am I to stop you. The flaws I am referring to are the ones that weaken your confidence and limit your greatness. Now, these flaws are not always physical, they can be the lack of certain attributes like the ability to take risks, fear of criticism, fear of failure, the need to please others, etc. Flaws are within us all, however, we have to come face to face with what needs to be improved and develop a plan of action. Many times we do not sit with ourselves and give ourselves the time of day. We handle many roles and rarely ever the role of “self” is prevalent. Do you even like you? If no, why? And, go from there. Take a risk and try something new, welcome failure, be yourself and take notice of who accepts you for who you are.
  4. Seek Less for Reassurance: Have you found yourself asking your significant other, friends, family or even strangers for approval about something you wore, the way you look, an idea you presented, or even input on your own opinion? Thanks to social media and our ability to interact with many of our peers simultaneously, it seems like we have shifted our focus from what we like to what others may think of what we like. There is nothing wrong with seeking advice, a second opinion or just seeing what others think, but if your decisions are going to be dependent on outsiders’ input or your mood would somehow be affected by the reaction of others, then we may need to try to self reflect a little more. Realize that at the end of the day, it’s you the one whose opinion comes first and while reassurance can boost your confidence, reassurance is also a double-edge sword. Don’t ever let outsiders have more control over you.
  5. Don’t Compare Yourself or Your Life to Others: Comparing ourselves to others is sucking the life out of life. I know, a very deep thought lol. We live in a capitalist culture where having more is equal to happiness, but is it really? We live in a world where having more degrees and titles is more important than what you do with your knowledge and education. We continuously compare our material possessions and even memories and experiences such as traveling, dining, hobbies, etc. Although it’s nice to share our experiences so easily thanks to the internet, I think many of us are losing our sense of authenticity just to portray what is acceptable or trendy to others without searching for meaning in what we do. Comparing your life to others will lead to disappointment because someone will always have less than others which will cause a cycle of dissatisfaction. We can try to avoid this by practicing gratitude daily, being thankful for what we have and what we do not have yet. Remember, we don’t need to match someone’s else perfection, we can only aim to be better than ourselves yesterday. Being content is okay, don’t let anyone tell you that your ambition must match the next person. At the end of the day, you define your own happiness.
Thank you Wilma Lebron (IG: @mixtapesnlipsticks) for your input with rule number #3!

~LOVING YOURSELF ISN’T VANITY, IT’S SANITY~KATRINA MAYER

Picture by Carpe Diem Design Studio.