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Good Bye 2015! Hello 2016!

Out with the old, in with the new! At least that’s how the saying goes. 
As we welcome 2016 in a couple of hours, this is the perfect time to reflect on a year that brought smiles, laughter, new friends, new experiences and yes…the dreadful experiences that we much rather have done without! But like the other saying goes – “everything happens for a reason!”

While I did not have any “defined” goals if you will, I did make a promise to myself that I would continue to grow, to be better than I was yesterday; to learn to listen, to be a better communicator, to acquire skills and tools to better aid me in my journey and in learning on how to deal with things that don’t always align with my path. I took on to on-line mind games, listening to motivational speakers and theorist, learned to meditate, learned to breathe with a purpose, and read and wrote a lot. 

There were a lot of happy times for me this past year, but truth be told – I encountered a lot of tough moments & losses – growing pains is how I describe those moments; learning to appreciate life is how I described the losses! Some I felt on the surface, others ran soul deep – but with each moment of pain came a moment of growth & understanding. What I eventually realized is that every time something tough came around, I knew how to handle. Each moment needed a different tactic. 

There was less internal pain, less anxiety, less stress…. less mind consuming thoughts and irrational emotions … The answers were always within, the skills and tools I learned helped me to cope! To be rational, to be empathetic, to process – allowing me to come up with answers and ideas and results driven by rationalism & thoughtful thought rather than answers inspired by anger, hurt, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from having perfected these skills, but I am better. 

Change happens from within. It’s a conscious choice. We do it for ourselves so that we can be happy; our internal happiness allows us to be happy for and with others. Like that other saying goes “you can’t make others happy if you’re not happy with self.” So true in every which way. Anything other than this leads to stress, resentment, uncontrollable thoughts, false hope, poor choices – at the end of the day, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

I recently read a quote that read “let us not hope for more chance to change our story; let us summon the courage to change it ourselves! 

This quote resonated so deeply! Often we give chance after chance, allow situations to arise without any real resolution – often saying give it time, or I’ll deal with it some other time, or trying to justify it for reasons that truly don’t exist… It’s really because we are refusing to change – to live outside that comfort zone. 

Change is inevitable – but resistance to change is what keeps you in the back seat! We are the drivers on our journey, we are responsible for the choices and the actions we take and the consequences that arise – we are in control of our thoughts, our choices, decisions, emotions, lifestyle, stress, happiness… our smiles… our souls! 

This year I learned that I’m far from perfect, but I’m a pretty amazing woman – able to endure all, a woman of resiliency, triumph, a women who is able to forgive, accept, a woman willing to learn from her mistakes and imperfections. A woman open to growth: internal and external change. A woman willing to listen, capable of love & understanding – a woman with an entrepreneurial spirit – willing to go above and beyond for the people and causes she cares about & believes in. 

I learned that love is not unconditional but it comes pretty close to it! I learned that my heart is bigger than most, that my spirit is truly unbreakable and my soul, well my soul is flexible… 🌴 

As I prepare to welcome 2016, I will make a list of things I’d like to see happen… I will evaluate this list often. This list will allow me to stay focused, to continue to evolve, to explore, to live & to learn!  

A year of pure transformation is how I describe 2015! 

As I welcome 2016, I will view life with a different lens – seeing it clearer than I ever saw it before.  

Because I learned that life is truly bigger than us. That life will test every value, will pull every single hair on your body, challenge your limits, expand your brain, and widen your thoughts & perception. Life as I once knew it no longer exist and yet, I’m not scared! Excited if you will of all that awaits me in 2016 and years to come! 

An eternal optimist is how I describe me – seeing the bright lights at the end of the road!  

Humbled for the experiences, excited about the new and re-established friendships and forgiving of the friendships that no longer are! 

Blessed for all that is life: the good, the bad and the indifferent, for it really defines who we are! 

I’ve already decided that 2016 will be my year (as was every other year before). I will travel, love even harder, test the limits, live outside of my comfort zone and live freely and in the process I will dance and breathe…. 

Wishing you all continued growth, love, laughter, music, health and prosperity! 

   
    
    
 

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What is Self-Love? 

To my daughter and the women I love ~  

  
The key to learning to self-love is that you must first fully understand and make a decision that your “self-love” is not dependent on the approval of others! 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog, a blog I created to share my journey and to hopefully share pointers, advice, and/or a simple reminder that you are not alone. That as women, we face and overcome so many challenges and barriers, but if we have community, a platform to share, love and the support of each other and others who believe in our growth and evolution – then we can truly grow! 

Self-love! I see the words everywhere. I hear the words spoken by so many, but do we really know and understand what it means? 

I’m convinced that while there’s a recurring theme – that one thing we can all agree on when it comes to what self-love means; the fact is that self-love, much like success and relationships, is really defined by you! 

What does it mean? I can’t speak for others but to me, it’s really learning how to put myself first in a world that has defined our roles as women. We have so many ever-changing titles/roles and to choose one over the other can sometimes feel impossible, let alone overwhelming! We are mothers, wives, partners, sisters, daughters, employees, employers, doctors to our families, caregivers, mentors, therapists for our family and friends, friends, best friends, hosts, lovers, givers, doers, etc etc! Shhheeezz….that’s a lot! 

If I were to ask you or if you asked yourself “who am I?” chances are you would list these titles/roles… but rarely do we answer “I am a woman – strong, empowered, smart, beautiful, giving, balanced, driven…

Self-love to me is being able to say all these things before I say that I am a mother, daughter, sister, aunt, etc etc… It means to me that I hold these self-attributes, strengths, actions more important so that I can successfully be all those titles/roles that the world has clearly defined for me/us without feeling guilty or ashamed! 

Self-love takes time, a long time! I’ve been blogging and writing for years and just when I think I have it, I realize I’m not quite there yet! I’m constantly evolving as a woman: reading, meditating, reflecting, learning, expanding my intake of readings and Ted Talks that reaffirms my feelings and adds to my growth and writing. 

Self-love is not easy! We are taught to stand strong, to put others before ourselves no matter what! We are warriors, we are doers and yet we often fail to see in ourselves and our fellow sisters how strong we truly are! Self-love to me also means that we have a community responsibility of building our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our youth and our communities! To work hand-in-hand in sharing, nurturing and building all that is a woman! 

Self-love is work in progress… It has to start with you and has to be about you before it can be about others, and once you understand that, then only then can you begin to help build others…

For so long, I was guilt ridden! Felt horrible at the idea of putting myself first! How could I do this? What will others think or say? I bet you know this all to well… It’s hard as hell!

I recently read that “Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.” 

The author shared and I now share with you, her Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love: 

Become mindful. People who have more self-love tend to know what they think, feel and want. They are mindful of who they are and act on this knowledge, rather than on what others want for them.

Act on what you need rather than what you want. You love yourself when you can turn away from something that feels good and exciting to what you need to stay strong, centered, and moving forward in your life, instead. By staying focused on what you need, you turn away from automatic behavior patterns that get you into trouble, keep you stuck in the past, and lessen self-love.

Practice good self-care. You will love yourself more, when you take better care of your basic needs. People high in self-love nourish themselves daily through healthy activities, like sound nutrition, exercise, proper sleep, intimacy and healthy social interactions.

Set boundaries. You’ll love yourself more when you set limits or say no to work, love, or activities that deplete or harm you physically, emotionally and spiritually, or express poorly who you are.

Protect yourself. Bring the right people into your life. I love the term frenemies that I learned from my younger clients. It describes so well the type of “friends” who take pleasure in your pain and loss rather than in your happiness and success. My suggestion to you here: Get rid of them! There isn’t enough time in your life to waste on people who want to take away the shine on your face that says, “I genuinely love myself and life”. You will love and respect yourself more.

Forgive yourself. We humans can be so hard on ourselves. The downside of taking responsiblity for our actions is punishing ourselves too much for mistakes in learning and growing. You have to accept your humanness (the fact that you are not perfect), before you can truly love yourself. Practice being less hard on yourself when you make a mistake. Remember, there are no failures, if you have learned and grown from your mistakes; there are only lessons learned.

Live intentionally. You will accept and love yourself more, whatever is happening in your life, when you live with purpose and design. Your purpose doesn’t have to be crystal clear to you. If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose. You will love yourself more if you see yourself accomplishing what you set out to do. You need to establish your living intentions, to do this.

These 7 steps, together with a host of other resources are what has helped me to further understand what self-love is for me and in turn, learned to live it. I hope it can help you. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s work in progress but the key words here are “work” and “progress”! By simply working on one thing, you are well on your way to building strength and in turn – SELF-LOVE! 

Peace & Love 

Excerpt above is from this article if you care to read in its entirety! 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love

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reflection & affirmation under the sun

It’s my first day here in sunny, beautiful Phoenix, AZ. It’s always when I am most relaxed and in a great mood that I feel most inspired to write. Laying in the sun soaking in the rays (yes I have sunblock) seems to add the bolt of inspiration that I need to get started!! 

Not much to write in all honesty. Pretty blessed is how I feel these days. Blessed, balanced and relaxed pretty much sums it up! Not that life is all hunky dory, but it’s a lot more manageable & livable, and with all the amazing additions God has blessed me with – it is that much more worth it!
I find myself breezing through life these days; appreciating the good, learning how to deal with the not-so-good in a manner that doesn’t cleanse me out of my positive energy.  Learning to control me and learning that I cannot control the actions or inactions of others! 
Strengthening relationships with those that matter and learning to let go of those that are no longer meant to be! 
Learning to take care of me without the guilt! Learning about my strengths and weaknesses and my newly released desires that have been dormant for way to long! 
My son recently texted me “I’m glad you’re happy and finally living out your dreams…” What a heartfelt moment that was for me. To realize that my kids are looking at every move I make and acknowledging behaviors that I felt I was hiding because I always felt they were selfish! That text message was a reaffirmation that we must live out our dreams, our passions and that we must love ourselves because at the end of the day, when it’s done with the right intentions, carried out with self-respect, dignity and integrity – for no one can take that away or diminish it no matter how hard they try! 
Day 2 of my 5 day visit to Phoenix (still working on my tan), I realize (not that I didn’t know before) that we live in a world filled with endless opportunities for love, success, health and prosperity! It really is up to us to seek it! So often we live by societal rules and norms that can hinder us from growth – it is when we step outside of that comfort zone and reach, that is when we find that peace that we seek!  
Positive reaffirmations help; support and guidance from others just makes life that much sweeter! 
Life is really what you make of it. We all say that we know this, but how many of us are truly living it! On this peaceful morning, I look up to the sky (without trying to be blinded by the sun) and think of all the amazing people who are in heaven looking down on me, guiding me, loving me from afar, supporting me and proving that inner strength – I miss & love them all – yet feel so blessed and lucky to have had them be a true inspiration in my life! 
So much to be thankful for – 
Feeling grateful for it all – the good, the bad & ugly and the fruitful experiences, for today at 42 I am healthy, accomplished, balanced, loved and living a life I am creating for myself! 
Back to working on my tan ~ 
Peace & Love 
Luz y Colores 
  

 

Luz y colores mi gran amigo Hector

It’s been nearly 4 months since the unexpected passing of one of my best friends! There’s been many of times I’ve tried to write about him, about our friendship, but to no avail. Never quite strong enough to get through my writing.

They say you never quite know how much someone means to you until they are gone…. So true! I surely knew how important he was in my life when his soul was alive, but with him no longer here, I certainly understand and have a new found appreciation of the “why” he was important.

I’ve always believed that every friend, every person that walks in and out of our lives, serves a purpose! Whether to listen to your woes, to provide sound or even obscure advise (such can be comical or whimsical in nature), others are there to make your boo-boos feel better, to laugh, to cry with, dance, talk, guide….etc (you get the picture) – friends serve a purpose – even the ones that are no longer in our lives (perhaps they were never a friend – but certainly served a purpose). Either way, that’s what my friend Hector was for me – all of the above and then some!

If you know me well then you know I owe some of my inner & outer strengths to him! He believed in the purpose, in the strength & power of a woman. He believed in me and in moments of doubt, fear, confusion and cloudiness – he was there to push me through… To provide stern advise, sensible wisdom, laughter, tainted humor and always a listening ear no matter how busy or strained his day! Whether via call, a text, a meet-up, Hector made time for his friend!

No closure! No goodbye, no closure for me in knowing why he took his life so sudden, so unexpected, so rash – so devilish in nature!

As much as I want to be angry at him for leaving his family, his friends, for no longer having our friendship, I can’t! Mental illness, for no matter how much it appears someone has it together, no matter how smart, wise, rational one appears – mental illness lies deep within the soul; so deeply rooted that while in the outer you sustain, deep within you are broken — feeling like there’s no way out! You are a functioning depressed person until your rock bottom is too heavy to dig yourself out.

He always encouraged me to write! To share my journey because in some form or fashion – we all have something amazing to share, and the idea behind sharing is that someone is inspired or empowered by your story!

Your journey, much like depression and suicide, is never something to be hidden, to be embarrassed about! I can hear him now, telling me that what he did was wrong on so many levels, a gravely ill mistake not fully comprehending the everlasting damage & impact it left behind – a pain that filters the veins….

He would never object to my writing about him, in fact, he would encourage such writings! To tell the world that suicide is never an answer and while it was his answer – it was the wrong answer!

I will never really know why, no one will ever know why – not even the letters he left behind will answer the why… His thoughts and his reasonings were his to have.

Wanting nothing more than to call, to send him a text to talk – just to talk about life, my journey, my woes, to laugh, to cry, to receive guidance, wisdom, perhaps an empowering quote, to talk about life and the human behavior (lol) … but they’d be no response! No response from my dear friend who is no longer here!

I hold on to his last text just three days before his death, his voicemail from just two days before… His words of encouragement, his words of wisdom –

Sad and sorry I could not help him get through his woes, his demons – for they were much bigger than me, then his wife & kids, then him!

My missing him is much bigger than my anger and hurt and disappointment. No closure, no goodbyes, no nothing… Just a text, a voicemail ~

But what I do have is this embodied strength that continues to manifest ~ that’s why I can’t and choose not to be angry no matter how much I miss him!

Allz I know is that this world is missing an amazing man – my dear friend! I do thank God for providing me with his friendship and for giving me amazing friends; for continuing to provide & to bless me with people who inspire, love and build me.

I know Hector is never coming back – yet, I find myself incredibly blessed to have had this man enter my life when he did. I just wish he could see me now on this new journey filled with strength, health, friends and new love!

He’d say he is ok! He’d tell me to continue to live life to the fullest! To be true to self first! To love me first! To be honest, loyal, giving, humble, respectful, and most importantly – to be a woman of my word! To love hard no matter what! To trust in my journey for it will not lead me on the wrong path! That we must cease every moment, that every moment we experience is a life lesson; that we must end each day with a lesson learned and wake up each morning with a purpose / with a goal to learn something knew and to pay it forward!

As I write, my Pandora plays, and on comes my dad’s song…

I have Angels guiding me… I know I do – because I believe, I love and I feel!

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Helps individuals in suicidal crisis within the United States.

Luz y Colores mi gran amigo Hector 🌴

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My quest for soda & chocolate

My quest for soda and chocolate … On the down low…

In an effort to live up to some personal fitness goals, I’ve decided, with the help of my boyfriend – to give up soda! The idea of laying low on chocolate chip cookies was his idea and not my original concept … But, I went for it anyway (temporarily that is – it’s about moderation…right?)

Anyway, I had reached the 1 week mark when a ridiculous craving attacked my mind, body & soul! Yes… it attacked it – because this girl was going through some serious caffeine withdrawal and no, coffee does not do it for me!

Sooooo …. I get off my bus and head over to Target, where my plans were to buy some veggies and fish, and some minor things that I needed. I am now at the cashier station, and directly in front of the cashier, is, you know what?… the concession stand! I immediately thought to myself that if I had a chicken artichoke wrap and a medium soda, it would be part healthy and part sneaky (but the healthy part is what counts…lol), AND no one will know. I thought long and hard about it, playing every scenario in my mind; even thinking that my boyfriend would somehow walk into Target and catch me. After I woke-up from that daydream, I proceeded to go to the concession stand and order me a wrap and yes, the soda. Besides, I knew my boyfriend was not around! To my dismay, they had no wraps. Leaving me, yes, with no choice but to walk out Target without my soda.

Sort of pissed off that my initial idea of sneaking a soda did not work out, I began to think of what else I can possibly drink or eat that will appease my craving.

On my way home, I thought I could stop by this great little café, and pick up the best chocolate chip cookies ever made. Again, no one will know, not even my boyfriend, because I would leave no trace of cookies or crumbs in my car, and I would dispose of the bag it comes in at the dump! Yes, the plan was smooth! So I pay my toll, I proceed to this little café and as I approach the little café to park my car, I see that the café is under renovation. HOT DAMN (banging my steering wheel)!

Needless to say, that at this point I am extremely pissed off, aggravated, I’m really craving caffeine and chocolate & both my plans have failed me miserably! I suppose I could’ve just ran into a local gas station, or supermarket to pick up some caffeine and chocolate chip cookies. But that wasn’t the point, I wanted it to be my way – I wanted soda from Target and cookies from Ella Bella’s!

So, I make a u-turn and head back home. On my way home I think – “wait, I have two Pepridge Farm cookies left in a bag”. I left those cookies on top of my kitchen counter. So I said to myself, at least I can get some of my chocolate craving in, and no one will know, not even my boyfriend, because the bag had been there for several days!

So I get home, unpacked all my groceries, take out the tilapia, put the oven on, and begin to cook. [I know what you’re thinking – “she’s eating cookies and cooking her veggies…shut-it!….] Of course this girl has to eat healthy, but who says she can’t have a little snack before dinner? After all I had been through, I deserved a treat!

So I go to look for my cookies, and they are nowhere to be found. I open up the cabinets, and no cookies! I immediately thought to myself “this man through my cookies out (yes I checked the garbage – but the man emptied it), emptied my soda bottles, and wiped me clean of anything remotely sugar – except for rice cakes….!” I immediately yelled “nooooo, this man has ruined me!” Lol – well I really said something else along with that – but I’ll keep it clean! Lol

With nothing else to do with myself, no sugar, no chocolate, no sweets, no soda, nothing but my tilapia and veggies, I proceeded to do my squat challenge!

I guess that’ll teach me the next time I try to go against the universe, my boyfriend, my gut, and my belly fat!

This is the first time ever, that I have followed through on a no-soda-challenge! I’m proud of myself!

At the end of the day, I know that I could’ve had the soda, the cookies, anything chocolate, if I really wanted to. I guess the moral of the story is, that you should follow your initial instincts and that if you are going to commit to something – stick to it! Because at the end of the day, the only person you are cheating is yourself.

I have goals that I have set, and I intend on fulfilling those goals – being at my fittest, healthiest, most fabulous-self-ever!

So, here is to another week of no soda. I really can’t promise chocolates because that initially was not part of “the plan”, but I am going to try my hardest to limit the intake!

Nonetheless, I will keep you all posted on my journey for soda and chocolate, should they arise.

You can stop laughing and nodding your head now!

Lol – 👍😘

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