Guardian of Dreams

“In dreams, we enter a world that is entirely our own.” – Albus Dumbledore

Originating in Native American culture, dreamcatchers has symbolized strength and unity throughout many generations. The purpose of a dreamcatcher is to swing freely above your bed, catching dreams floating by. It is believed that the good dreams know how to pass freely through the dreamcatcher, while the bad dreams get tangled up as if they are insects caught in a spider’s web.

I’m an avid dreamer. My dreams are often vivid and constant. Some nights they make absolutely no sense, as if I’m trying to decipher Morse code. Other nights they are terrifying, causing me to jolt out of my sleep in night sweats. And some nights, they are so comforting that I long to live in the dream world permanently. One of my best friends made me a dreamcatcher as a Christmas gift last year that still hangs over my bed to this day. Earlier this year, I was in a very painful mental space. I wasn’t sleeping. My nightmares haunted me. I often questioned myself…my sanity. I felt as if every layer of skin was being peeled back to expose me. To everyone else, I seemed fine. But internally, waking up each day and participating as a normal citizen in life seemed more difficult than it should have.

I began journaling consistently. I would write down random thoughts, poems, vents, whatever could come to mind. Anything that would allow me some relief and clear my mind. A lot of my journal entries were often sad and filled with pain. The other night, I was looking through my old journal entries. Reading back on them often puts my present into perspective. I came across a journal entry from January 7, 2019. It was one of those sleepless nights. I spent the night sitting in the dark looking up to the dreamcatcher that hung over my bed. It reads:

Dreamcatcher hangs over my bed

Dreamcatcher, work your magic

Catch the unwanted dreams that sink into the depths of my soul

The painful, engrained memories that haunt me when my eyes close

The muffled cries that escape from my mouth and leaves me exposed

The ghosts of nightmare’s past, nightmares I refuse to let go

Dreamcatcher, please do not judge me

Please accept that I am wounded, scarred, and beyond your repair

Please hold my secrets and fears

Please secure them in your netted home

Shower your love and light over me throughout the darkest realms

Dreamcatcher, I am scared

No one has an idea

No one knows that I am darkness itself, disguised as a flower blooming in a field

So you’re wondering what is the purpose of sharing this? To show you that it is okay to be broken. It’s okay to rely on an object for strength. Religion, beliefs. Fantasies, or even magic. Sometimes we need a bit of magic to keep pushing ourselves to carry on. You believe in whatever you need to, as long it’s not self destructive. You see, like a dreamcatcher, we are all connected in our pain. Netted and entangled with our individual problems and situations. And when we realize that we are connected in pain, we become a unity and beacon of hope. We open channels for necessary conversations that will ultimately lead to our healing. We become strength itself. Some nights I find myself awake in the middle of the night, staring at my dreamcatcher. Thanking God, the universe, and my lucky stars that I am not in the same mental space as I was in before. Acknowledging that I still have some work to do within myself, to heal. And on those bad nights that creep up on my every now and then, I close my eyes and vow to release the thoughts to the dreamcatcher, hoping somehow it guides my message to God. Sending all of my love to those who need it and saving some for myself. Happy Tuesday, my beautiful readers!

Feel free to check me out on Instagram: ang_meets_soul for more content ❤

Witches Redefined.

“To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn’t afraid of facing challenges.”
Paulo Coelho

Since the beginning of time, witches were looked as single, lustful women in cahoots with the Devil, conjuring spells for the sake of torturing others. In popular culture, witches blended in with humans, hiding their identity due to the fear that they would be misjudged or persecuted for their ‘powers.’ However, now the term ‘witch’ has become a rather empowering statement for women all over the world who are self-proclaimed healers in today’s society.

The Origin of Witches

There is no clear data that shows when witches first appeared. However, one of the first documented witch was in the Bible-the book of Samuel, between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. (https://www.history.com/topics/folklore/history-of-witches). The story touches on the Witch of Endor summoning the spirit of the dead prophet, Samuel, per the request of King Saul. But it wasn’t until the mid 1400s in Europe, where witch hunts became all too common. Many were executed by burning of the stake or hung. Women targeted were often single or widowed. By the late 1600s, witch hunts traveled to the New World and kicked off the very well know witch trials in Salem, MA. During the Salem Witch Trials, 150 people were accused and 18 were executed. Shockingly, these numbers included 6 men, who were also convicted and executed.

Modern Day Witches

Yes, they do exist. Just not in the way you are used to perceiving them. They don’t have warts, or fly on brooms, or stand in front of a cauldron with oozing, green liquid spilling out of it. Wicca became a US religion in 1985. It is practiced by witches or wiccans, as a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature thereby affirming the divinity in all living things. ‘Power’ is derived by the Earth and all of its natural resources. If you believe in the power of stones and crystals, this is a way of practicing witchcraft. If you utilize sage to rid negative energy, this is a way of practicing witchcraft. What is often associated as evil or against religion, is the opposite. This belief system is used to help and heal others. As a matter of fact, “Harm None” is the whole of the law in Wicca. Also, witches are not Satan worshippers because they do not practice Christianity, and Satan is a evil symbol based in Christian religion. However, they do believe in good and bad sources. The usual goal of a wiccan is to influence the greater good. But honestly, Wicca barely scratches the surface. There are many other pillars that exist within the modern witch’s belief systems.

Witches and Halloween

Witches don’t necessarily celebrate Halloween. Instead, it is usually observed as a time to honor loved ones who have passed on, much like Day of the Dead that is celebrated in Mexico. The reason behind this is because the veil between the living and the dead is the weakest, making it primetime to communicate to spirits.

My Opinion of Witches…

Personally, I like to dabble in research. I believe that certain people on this Earth have been granted ‘gifts.’ Abilities to know the unknown and predict future events. I fully trust my intuition and the internal power I have within me to change certain circumstances. My crystals are sacred to me. My sage and Palo Santo stays stacked in my household! I burn incense on the regular. I believe in the power of manifestations. My beliefs don’t fit in one box. I thank God and the Universe. I believe both are very powerful forces in my life. I believe it is all connected. But that’s just me! I would never force beliefs on anyone else and I do not tolerate others to do the same to me. I don’t often speak on my beliefs because I come from a Catholic family. Anything out of the norm and misunderstood, normally gets a bad rep. And I rather not have to defend my beliefs or make anyone else understand why they are my beliefs. I just know what works for me and makes me feel whole. Do I consider myself a witch? Mm, I don’t know. Lol I would like to be considered that cool! What I do know is that I am a lover and believer of magic and miracles. I believe in the healing powers of natural herbs. I believe in the power of energy and frequencies. I believe there are so many unexplained forces in this world that we cannot even begin to wrap our heads around. I am open minded to all possibilities. But more importantly, I love the idea of women coming together to celebrate their feminine divine power. There is so much beauty in that alone.

I’m curious to hear from all of you. What is your take on witches? Do you think you can be labeled a modern day witch? Or do you think it’s just all a bunch of Hocus Pocus? Would love to hear from you all! Stay witchy, my friends. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

My IG: @ang_meets_soul. Photos of me taken by @sophies_eye_813. Be sure to check us out! 🙂

Tips on How to Build a Savings: A Guide to Being a Financially Responsible Adult

Do you often find yourself scraping for coins or wondering where all of your money in your account has gone? Chances are it didn’t disappear- you spent it. And if you have no recollection of what that money was spent towards, then chances are you are not budgeting effectively. As most of us silently exit our twenties, we are faced with the dreaded reality that we are just not in a position to make careless decisions anymore, especially when it comes to finances. Some of us have families to support. Some of us have an overwhelming amount of bills to pay. Some of us aspire to own a home. Whatever the goal may be, it usually requires money. With the way society is currently, cost of living seems to rise in price, but no raise in our salaries to be found. This is where the benefit of savings comes into play.

I know what you’re thinking- HOW? How can you build a savings when you barely have enough to cover the bills? Honestly, it’s more attainable than you think. Here’s how:

1. Process of Elimination:

Many times we don’t realize that some of our monthly expenses are more of a luxury rather than a necessity. Make a list of your expenses and cancel those that are not necessary. For example, that Ipsy bag you invest in monthly is definitely a luxury. By cutting that you automatically have 10 extra dollars to tuck away in savings each month. Paying for a cable bill? DON’T! There are plenty of streaming services that are way cheaper or even free. I personally do not have cable. I have Hulu and Netflix, and whenever I want to watch live tv, there is a free streaming site, ustvgo.tv. You’re welcome.

2. Split Your Paychecks:

This is something I’ve started doing as of last year. I opened a new account in hopes of building a savings that is stored securely. Once I did that, I set my direct deposit to have my net pay transfer into one account (my main one that I use to pay bills) and then designated 10% of my paycheck to transfer into the new account I opened. 10% is what I decided but it can honestly be a smaller percentage as well. Determine what is doable based on your own finances. This has helped me tremendously. Since the transfer is automatic, it’s like I never see the money to begin with. You can’t miss what you do not have. It has trained me to work with the money I do have in my main account, while the money in my other account slowly builds.

3. Cash Stash:

This is similar to splitting your paychecks, just at a smaller and more tangible scale. In addition to having my paychecks split, each paycheck I withdraw $5-$10 and place it in my ‘Cash Stash.’ The money you gain from the ‘Process of Elimination’ step is also perfect for this, by the way. Often, I place this stash in a hidden place in an attempt to hide it from myself. Out of sight, out of mind. Plus, it is always helpful to have easy access to cash in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

4. Acorns are NOT just for squirrels:

For those who are unfamiliar with the Acorns app, it is an app that charges you a monthly subscription and invests that money into multiple stocks within the market. You can set the monthly amount to whatever is most comfortable for your situation (I do $10 a month), and watch the investment grow. You also have the opportunity to do one time investments in addition to the monthly ones. What I like most about this app is the compounded interest and dividends added. Often, this app also has promotional partnerships where you can gain more towards your profit. For example, if you book a flight through CheapOAir through the app, a percentage of your purchase is also invested into your Acorns account. Basically free money! And this app can serve as a savings account. You have the ability to withdraw the money from your account and have it deposited into your bank account. I believe its only a 3 business day process time.

I’m not sure if you’re keeping count, but I have given you 3 different streams of savings… anyways, onto my last tip!

5. Save Your Coins!

It seems simple, right? That’s because it is. My fiancé is constantly dealing with cash and so many times he is left with a bunch of change. I always encourage him to give me the change and drop it into a piggy bank. I keep collecting the change and normally won’t cash it in until we are traveling somewhere. Granted, a fee is associated with Coinstar to convert coins into cash. I’m personally too lazy to go old school, and roll my coins to give to a bank to cash out. However, that is always an option if you don’t want to pay fees. You don’t think that the change adds up, but it really does! The minimum amount I have cashed out is $30. That might be considered a small amount, but that is extra money you did not have before.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I cannot stress enough the importance of handling your finances responsibly. How many of these steps do you think you can start practicing? Are you using any of these tips now? I would love to hear feedback! And of course, if any of you have additional suggestions, I am all ears 🙂 Happy Fri-yay everyone!

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” ―Asian Proverb

Whenever I think of France, I think of the city of Paris. Paris was the goal, initially. But you cannot want what you do not know, and all I knew of was Paris. Of course, I would love to see the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in the night sky. However, when a company you work for offers to send you to France to present a topic on one of the articles you’ve written, all expenses paid, you jump on that opportunity! So that’s exactly what I did. I had no idea what to expect, or what part of France we would be. Honestly, I didn’t care. All I knew is that I was grateful to have this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this trip taught me the art of gratitude and the beauty of disconnection. I will admit that this trip was far different than any of the other places I’ve traveled. A pleasant surprise. But more importantly, this trip taught me what it really means to step out of your comfort zone. Ironic- that was the topic I was presenting while in France. I had no idea that I would be pushed even more outside of my comfort zone than I already had prepared myself to do.

Our flight was on a Monday night at 7:45 PM. I was traveling with my manager and her husband. While waiting to board the plane, I overanalyzed my presentation and wondered if it was up to par to present in front of other people, let alone to my colleagues. I wondered if I would remain poise during the presentation. This particular topic meant the world to me because I was currently living it. My life had changed so drastically over the past year, that I am barely recognizable to myself- and it’s great! But still, I wondered if I would be considered ‘good’ enough. I am one of the youngest in the company, so it can be a bit intimidating. Finally, we boarded the plane and I prepared to settle into my seat. After 10 hours, 2 movies, and in and out of the worst sleep I’ve ever endured, we landed in Frankfurt, Germany for our layover. What seemed like a short wait, we then proceeded to board the plane to head to Toulouse, France. So I thought Toulouse would be our final destination, but it was not…in hindsight, now I know why we rented a car. We drove two hours to the small, quaint town of La Salvetat-Peyrales. Way high in the mountains, where civilization is questionable, stores are borderline non existent, with dirt roads lining miles of land, and not one sign of a street light lol. Turns out that one of the big bosses in the company bought a house in France with her husband about 5 years ago after finding it during their honeymoon. Honestly, the house is stunning and very much reminded me of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. When Belle sung about ‘this poor, provincial town’ she was talking about here. But I do not mean one ounce of disrespect. It is a very simple lifestyle filled with beauty.

The house came with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, an outdoor sitting area overlooking a pool, an upstairs lounge area placed outside of the house, and a family room. Some of us were able to stay here, while the rest of us stayed in a cottage about 15 min. walking distance down the road. I was one of the guests who did not get to stay here, but day in and day out for the next 6 days, we spent the majority of our days here presenting, strategizing, and taking trainings in an attempt to better the company and keep it growing- very cozy and family style. Which speaking of the cottage, I know the country life is not for me for the simple fact that it is way too dark and quiet for my liking. Every night while I was in France, I barely slept because I felt the place was either haunted or there would be some crazed killer out there to get me!

We arrived to the house around 5:00 PM where I met the gracious host for the first time. Between the 6 hour time difference, the long flights, and the long drive over here, I could have used some perking up. And that is when we were greeted with glasses of champagne and wine lol. One thing this trip allowed all of us to do is BOND. And I’m not talking that fake kind of bonding where you try to impress one another and hide all evidence of any flaws. Throughout the trip, we got REAL. And I realized in these moments that I DO NOT work for a conventional company- I loved every minute of it! France has a tradition called apéro which means cocktail hour, served with drinks and small appetizers. We celebrated apéro each day we were there so I ate and drank A LOT. The first night there, while enjoying the cocktail hour outside in their hosting area, I couldn’t believe my surroundings. Candles lit everywhere, a cozy fire burning, and GREAT red wine (I don’t even drink red wine like that unless it’s sweet). Total vineyard vibes.

The next few days we dived straight into work. There was not much sight seeing throughout the week, but in our off hours, we gathered together drinking more wine and champagne, and eating more food lol. This was definitely a social trip, for sure. I was worried I would be pre-judged and stereotyped (which was very possible, since I decided it was perfectly ok to wear my Poetic Justice hoodie with an enlarged picture of Tupac on the front lmao one time for the culture though!) After my experience with my last job, you could say I’m scarred but it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so authentic and encouraged one another to do so. So many jokes and laughs. But anyways, back to the food and drinks!

This is common drink in South France. It smells of black licorice and is definitely an acquired taste. Usually served with one ice cube and diluted with water because it is STRONG. But by all means, if you feeling froggy…

A lot of pork is eaten in France from various hams to salamis to bruschetta. The French also consume a lot of bread, olives, and various vegetables such as tomatoes and lentils. However, all produce has to be in season. Nothing is imported to France, so all produce is locally grown. If it is not in season, it does not exist to eat or sell.

A fig picked from a tree in the host’s backyard

We did venture out to a few restaurants where we ate authentic French food. It was definitely an adventure trying to decipher the menu and then order the items in French lol. Google was my best friend throughout this trip!

We went to a restaurant called L’oustal del Barry. As you can see the portions are much smaller than we are accustomed to in the U.S. However, these are three course meals- appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Add that with wine and bread and trust me, you’re good and full! I ordered the ravioli, lamb, and a Nutella mousse cake.

When we weren’t going to restaurants, the host was cooking at the house. One of my favorite meals while there was the duck confit. If you’ve never tried duck, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Although I have eaten duck in the U.S before, I never tasted duck so amazing than I did in France.

Duck confit with spinach salad, lentils, and bread…of course!

Another item I tried was unpasteurized cheese…and this is not sold in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe to consume raw milk cheeses. But it is the best tasting cheese you will ever taste in your life!

In France, dessert IS THE LAW. Don’t ever turn down a dessert in a restaurant. I did that once and they looked at me as if I committed a crime. An honorable dessert mention was banoffee, which is basically banana foster pie. SO DELICIOUS…

As the week wrapped up, work slowed down. It was Friday and my presentation was pushed to Saturday due to all of us running behind schedule. In addition, we had to drive two hours to the small village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we would tour the Roquefort Caves. Legend has it, that after the Combalou Mountain collapsed and parts of the mountain disintegrated into a giant, chaotic heap of rocks riddled with natural faults and caves. These caves were ingeniously adapted for the purpose of cheese-making. Yes, I said cheese making. Fleurines, which are small tunnels that run throughout the caves makes it the perfect temperature and humidity to develop Roquefort cheese, with the help of microorganisms such as penicillium roqueforti. These caves have been transformed to a cellar that now holds as many as 300,000 loaves of cheese at a time. They had samples of the cheese, in which I tried, but it was a bit too strong tasting for my preference. This cheese is for the brave.

Saturday approached and it was the big day for my presentation. I wish someone could have recorded me or taken pictures. Everyone was so wrapped up in my topic and I had their undivided attention, which is great! My presentation included thought provoking questions that helped others realize the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. I got amazing feedback and was not mentally prepared AT ALL for how emotional my presentation made everyone. It was a room full of 10 people and not one person was dry eyed. I had stirred something in them emotionally and one by one, they started confessing things they felt they have held themselves back due to staying in their own comfort zones. It became a roundtable discussion with raw and honest answers of circumstances they struggled with. Each one would start crying as they openly became vulnerable and in return, provoked me to cry as well. But it was not until one of my colleagues opened up about her desire to be married with kids. That she felt she held herself back from finding someone to share her life with. That she feels she will spend her life alone. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she feels she has failed in this area of life. And I thought to myself, “maybe she has valid points, or maybe it’s just simply not her time yet.” And in that moment, I felt the need to share a painful truth of my own- the loss of a child. I didn’t share to be pitied. Honestly, it’s been one hell of a journey and I owe it all to my baby in heaven. If it wasn’t for me going through that situation, I would have never had the courage to write again. I would have never had the courage to leave my job and fall into a better one. I would not have the courage to submit my work to a local magazine and score a guest column. I owe everything to my angel. Sometimes, it is just the timing. Sometimes, we need the time and certain situations to happen to force us to learn and grow through. So that’s exactly what I told her. That her time will come, just like it will for me when the timing is right. And then we cried some more lol. I was so raw and vulnerable and yet, somehow poised. I was authentic and I caused others to take a deep look within themselves. Everyone raved so much about my presentation that I caught the attention of the CEO, so that’s an amazing feeling! I don’t want to overkill on this particular highlight of my trip but it was the main purpose of me going to France in the first place. I am just so relieved that not only did I execute it, I connected with my colleagues in ways I could not have imagined having the power to do so. A major accomplishment in my book.

After the presentation (and after we pulled ourselves together lol), we headed into the city of Albi, France for some more sight seeing. Albi was a charming city with streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. It was a nice change to see some civilization lol. We stumbled upon the Sainte-Cecile, a gothic cathedral dating back to 1280. It is considered the largest red-brick cathedral in the world. Every inch of the interior is decorated with extravagant tiles, gold leaf, and frescoes. You can visit the church and attend an audio tour for just 5 euros. It was definitely money well spent. Make sure you click on the slideshow to see inside 🙂

We had a late lunch in the city and continued to browse around in the small shops that paved the cobblestone streets. I was able to snag a cute shot glass that resembled a miniature wine glass, which seemed so perfect coming from France. The trip into the city was short lived and we headed back to the countryside to prepare for our last dinner spent together. We would all leave in the early morning. (Side note: in France, the majority of cars are manual aka stick shift. In order to get your license, you must be able to pass driving a manual before you can even think to be able to drive an automatic).

In the city square of Albi. I couldn’t help but capture this photo of these beautiful flowers splashed with the background of charming architecture.

France was not a typical wanderlust trip for me. I spent more time eating and drinking socially, connecting with my colleagues, and re discovering the importance of being present in the moment and putting my phone down. And in the nights that I spent alone in the cottage, I re discovered the art of solitude. I discovered that I am a force to be reckoned with. That I can stand powerfully in my truth and connect with others through shared pains. I learned that I have a voice. I learned that I never have to doubt myself again. This trip was for the soul. I opened up in ways that I have never allowed myself to before, especially when it comes to coworkers. I always felt I had to keep a certain level of professionalism. To prove that I am competent enough as a minority woman in what tends to be a white privileged corporate America. But the moment I displayed that authenticity, I was applauded. And I will forever carry that beautiful feeling in my heart. You see, often we think the action of traveling is meant to learn about the places we see and yes, to a certain extent that is true. But what about the things you learn about yourself being placed in an unfamiliar environment? I think this realization was my favorite part of this trip, after all ❤

Generational Curses: Forgive us, for we have sinned.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

What do you consider a generational curse? It’s typically based on ministry teachings that you are able to inherit misfortune based on the sins performed throughout generations in your family. Some examples to consider are depression and other mental illnesses, addictions to drugs and alcohol, marital problems, even incest. Since a child, I was exposed to the majority of these things, particularly on my mom’s side of the family. I would like to put the disclosure that I would never want to disrespect or offend that side of my family. It will never be my intent. However, it’s hard to ignore the circumstances I was exposed to so young. The term ‘generational curse’ has me thinking of the concept of nature vs. nurture. The difference of what is embedded in us since before birth and what has molded us as we continue to grow in life. This is my story. It has no end goal like the majority of my blogs do. I cannot offer advice how to overcome this because I still live with it everyday- I am still figuring it out. But because I remain true to my need to be as vulnerable and raw as possible, not only for my own healing but for others’ as well, I am here to share this part of my life with you.

Since a very young age, I was well aware of what mental illness looks like. I’ve seen it in many of my family members. Cases in which they physically harm themselves to shut the ‘voices’ out. Cases in which they committed suicide. Cases in which sporadic episodes appeared in numerous family parties, frantically trying to make sense of what is taking place in their own mind and body. Heavy alcoholism took place. There had been several times when I saw family members stumbling and unable to hold themselves up. I’ve seen extremes of family members being carried away in stretchers and placed in the ambulance to be treated for alcohol poisoning. I’ve witnessed incest…cousins marrying cousins. And for a while, all of this seemed normal as a child. I honestly knew no better. It never impacted me much…at first. Not until my mother got sick. It hits differently in your own household. Before my mother got sick, my household was a healthy environment. My mother and father were happily married. It was a two person income, I never needed for anything. I was spoiled with all a child desires plus love. My parents had a healthy routine for me and kept me protected from all that a child could be exposed to growing up in Bronx, NY. They laid the foundation for my education, exposed me to libraries and museums, took me to day trips out of the city on the weekends. I say this to elaborate on the fact that despite what I witnessed growing up from other family members, I was pretty sheltered and protected. But then when I was 8 years old, my mother got sick and life became unrecognizable.

My mom suffered from migraines for as long as I could remember. It turns out she had a brain tumor that acted as a ticking time bomb. At 35 years old, she suffered a brain aneurysm, which caused her to suffer from a stroke, which left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. She had to have brain surgery to remove the tumor mass. She stayed in the hospital for two months trying to recover. She became epileptic and will be on medication for the rest of her life. She will never be able to move the fingers on her left hand. She has to wear a sling for support of her left arm because it is literally dead weight. She has to wear a brace on her left leg to be able to walk, and even then, her balance is so unsteady that she has to use a cane as well. As I approach my 30th year on this Earth, 35 doesn’t seem so far away. She was so young and her life changed COMPLETELY. She had to stop working all together. She needed help using the bathroom, bathing, and changing. She was not allowed to be independent anymore because she was no longer capable of doing so. I place myself in her shoes at my current age and honestly, I’d probably become clinically insane. Just like that, so much was taken from her and she had to process and figure out a new way of living. Not to mention, living in constant fear. If she falls and hit her head, she is likely not able to survive that. If she has a seizure and it lasts more than 3 minutes, she can have extensive brain damage. And even with knowing all of this, in my heart, the way our relationship changed for the worse still hurts. My mother was the first person to ever break my heart. And decades later, I’m still trying to come to terms with it.

After suffering the stroke, her behavior changed drastically. She became isolated and paranoid. She started having hallucinations. My dad attempted to help her in any way he could, but her behavior was mean and nasty. He felt we needed a change in pace and scenery, so we moved from NY to MO. My grandfather lived there at the time and my father felt this would be beneficial for my mother. But her episodes only got worse. One time when I was 10 years old, we visited my grandmother in NY. While sleeping in bed with my mother, she woke me up in the middle of the night, hysterical. She accused me of trying to suffocate her in her sleep. She said she saw me on top of her with my hands around her neck. Needless to say, whenever I got around her, she shunned me. Called me all sorts of ugly names, even attempted to physically remove me from her sight. The episodes would come and go. Some days were unbearable and other days were tolerable. You could instantly see the switch between the moods in her eyes. There were nights when she woke me up, told me to help her cover the air vents in our home, because she felt someone placed cameras there to watch our every move. As the years passed by, her behavior became more unusual. Hiding random food items in the cabinets of our bathroom. Some days it was as if she was an empty vessel. Sitting in her beloved rocking chair in the living room, rocking back and forth, staring into the distance. By this point, my father and I were used to not being acknowledged. Sometimes we even preferred it that way because when she did acknowledge us, it was never in a pleasant manner. At this time my dad was kicked out of the room, subjected to sleeping on the couch every night. Eventually, he gave in and purchased a cot to sleep on. My dad would work nights and during those nights, I would lock my bedroom door because I felt unsafe alone with her. This way of life became normal for me…at least I thought. But unfortunately, I began suffering from anxiety attacks at age 11. I experienced full blown depression at the age of 13, particularly after my mother leaving my father and I, moving back to NY. The year to follow, I didn’t hear from her. And honestly, you would think that I would be happier after she left because at least she wasn’t around to treat me the way she did, right? No. Her leaving felt like rejection and abandonment. It was as if she gave up being my mother. To this day, Mother’s Day stings…now for more reasons besides my relationship with my mother…but I have always craved a mother-daughter relationship. I still do and it makes me sad that I will never genuinely experience that.

Sometimes I think that my mother was a product of a generational curse. My heart hurts for her. For me. For us. But then I find myself challenging that idea because in the end, we have the power to determine our reactions despite the obstacles. Over the years, I’ve kept in contact with her. The relationship is not as toxic, but it’s definitely strained. I haven’t completely forgiven her in my heart. I constantly struggle with letting go of what has happened between us. It’s an internal battle because I know she has pushed everyone away and is completely alone, and that thought alone breaks my heart. I don’t know what to do for her because as much as I want to open up and restore that relationship, I am guarded and feel the need to protect myself from her. Time never seemed to heal us. After all these years, it’s still not easy. I can’t cling to the good memories because my heart is flooded with the bad ones. Too much over too many years. It has left me damaged and distrustful. Anxiety and depression is a constant in my life…it makes up the majority of my core because I am conditioned this way. I am proud of where I am today mentally, but the work is never done. I know at some point, the pain will creep up on me again. I told a friend something today that reminded me I am on the right path. I said, “Life is filled with hard times sprinkled with happiness, not the other way around. What has helped me cope is realizing that for every bad moment in my life, a good one follows. I’m always looking forward to that next happy moment.” That’s what it’s all about right? You have to be this constant in an everchanging life. You have to be resilient. You have to fight and be okay with the fact that the fight will never be over. 50 cent said it best, “Death gotta be easy cause life is hard.” Life IS hard. It’s inevitable. But you owe it to yourself to create happiness within you. You owe it to yourself to overcome the obstacles. You owe it to yourself to break generational curses. Perhaps generational curses are not out of your control. Maybe you allow a generational curse to continue because you have been conditioned to do so. Maybe it is simply the concept of nurture. I’ve learned that in some of my darkest times, the most beautiful circumstances appear shortly after. Little specks of happiness within our reach. The question is, are you willing to reach out and grab it?

I’ve Resigned from my Job…now what?! UPDATE!

“The reward is in the risk.” ―Rachel Cohn

My blog post about resigning from my job was definitely one of the most viewed/read posts! So, I figured why not give an update for those of you who consistently read my posts, and are practically walking this journey along with me (I appreciate you all)! Resigning from my job without having another opportunity lined up was one of the bravest things I have ever done in my life. Needless to say, I am grateful for making this decision for so many reasons. You ask, what’s new? Some of you may or may not know, I am currently employed with a new company. The pic above is my bio on the company website 🙂 I’ll give you a little background about how I accepted this position, what I do in my position, and all of the exciting things I have coming up with this company!

My last day at my previous job was August 9th. I had been applying to multiple companies, have gone through many extensive interviews, but nothing seemed to be certain. I had received MANY rejections. There were three companies I’d been anticipating a response from- after surviving multiple rounds of interviews, I had a good feeling that at least one of them would stick. Midway through my shift that day, I received a job offer from Foothold America, Inc. In a nutshell, Foothold is responsible for helping overseas companies create U.S entities and then managing all of the business needs, especially when it comes to employee relations and development. It’s definitely an exciting company and offered all of the perks I ever wanted in a job: higher salary, remote work from home, growth, and a chance to travel periodically. There was only one setback…it was part-time for the first 90 days of employment. Although I anticipated being unemployed for about the same amount of time, I honestly did not want to blow through all of my savings. I politely thanked the company for the offer and asked if I could think about it over the weekend before I gave my final answer. Which, by the way, this is COMPLETELY fine to do! Don’t ever feel rushed into a position because you feel like a company will not wait around. As long as you give them a concrete deadline, they are usually very understanding and accommodating. Anyways, that is exactly what I did. I thought about all of the pros and cons in accepting the position. Yes, I would technically be getting paid less because of shorter hours. However, this was going to be temporary. And what about all of the other benefits? Especially working from home. Owning my time. I was so torn. Adding to my confusion, I received a phone call from another company I interviewed with asking if I could come in for an onsite interview. This was literally the 4th interview and I felt like I was jumping through hoops of fire to win over the company. I mean, come on, 4 interviews??? Regardless, I accepted the interview and continued to weigh out my options.

That Monday morning after talking to a few close friends of mine and hearing their input, I decided to accept the position and cancel the interview for the other job. It felt like a major risk I was taking, but if there is anything I have learned this year is the higher the risk, the higher the reward. So once again, I closed my eyes, placed all of my faith, and took a chance. Well, it has been 2 weeks and I am glad to say I am so happy I took the chance! From a financial point, it’s definitely a higher salary with better benefits…I just can’t wait to go full time to reap it all lol. It is a completely different market than I am used to, so everything feels exciting and new. I am definitely learning even more about Human Resources, especially on a more global scale. I love working from home so much. SO MUCH. I feel like I have an abundance of time to do other things I forgot I enjoyed doing, like cooking and going to the pool. Now I have the time to do it! My team, especially my manager, are beyond awesome. So progressive, personable, and understanding. Completely different from my last manager lol. They treat me as an asset to the team instead of a burden. To feel valued in a company is definitely a priority for me. I finally have my peace of mind back. My moods feel lighter and happier. I’m sleeping much better. And if that all wasn’t incredible enough, I found out that I’m being sent to France for our company’s annual strategic meeting, all expenses paid by them. I leave September 30th for a week 🙂 Looks like Toulouse, France will be coming up on the travel series, for sure!

To all of you who gave me encouraging words during this difficult transition, thank you so much! A lot of you reached out and let me know that I was not alone, or that you have been through something similar, or just overall reassuring that bigger and better would come. You all have no idea what that meant to me and it’s nice to know I have people rooting me on, especially because I am normally so hard on myself. So thank you again! I hope this little update has inspired you to take chances no matter how scary it may feel. Life is already hard without all of the overthinking and doubt. Feel confident in your choices. Know that you can overcome all of the obstacles that are thrown in your path. The crazy thing about the universe is that their is no right or wrong choices. Whatever you choose, the universe seems to bend and shape events around your decisions. It will always work out in the end. Happy Friday Eve folks! ❤

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes Hawaii!

Hawaii is not a state of mind, but a state of grace.
-Paul Theroux

Constant sunshine. Breezy summers. Low humidity. Green, lush plants that surround all around you. Stretches of honey sand with crystal, clear turquoise waters. You step off the plane and are immediately greeted by mountains. It was the first time my fiance and I have ever seen mountains in person. Of course, we took a few minutes to document it like the millennials we are. But in that initial moment, we were filled with excitement. After a layover in Houston and 7 hours on a plane, we were ready to explore the beautiful island of Oahu…

Or were we?? lol I have to admit, with the time change and by the time we checked into our room, we were both exhausted. That first evening, we decided to stay low-key and hang around the hotel area. We stayed at the Hilton Waikiki Beach and the area is busy and filled with tourists. Upon our arrival, they were shooting a TV show (I’m not sure which one) and the hotel was crawling with extras. We made it to our room and was pleasantly surprised with the views. High in the skies, our room overlooked the city with a backdrop of mountains.

I quickly changed my clothes and anticipated a quick bite we could grab around the hotel. We opted for a poke bowl. I know, we’re in Hawaii and you expect a food item that is more exotic? Well, sushi and poke bowls are widely eaten in Hawaii. It was quick and good, and mine had fresh ahi tuna which is local to the island. After grabbing food, we walked around and explored Waikiki Beach. I have to admit, the beach is beautiful but way too overcrowded.

After taking a walk along the beach, I decided I wanted to grab a Dole Whip and it was amazing! Trust me, pineapples hit different in Hawaii. After doing some more sightseeing, we decided to head back to the hotel and rest. We were asleep by like 8 PM. Pretty uneventful first night lol but traveling can take a toll, especially international ones. And the jet lag is insane! I was up at 3 AM ready to start my day, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Luckily, I was able to fall back asleep and wake up at 7 AM.

Our first full day in Hawaii had a whole itinerary. First we would eat breakfast at a local restaurant call Shorefyre. It’s a short walk from the beach and my fiance and I witnessed many of the locals coming straight from the beach to go there, barefoot and surfboards attached to their hips. We figured if locals trusted the place, it must be good. And we were right! The breakfast was beyond satisfying and delicious. Definitely large portions as well. I ordered upside pineapple pancakes. They were made with locally grown pineapples and were as large as my plate. Price wise, it wasn’t too bad. Prices ranged from $15 to $20. A little tip- food in Hawaii can get very costly, especially in a tourist area. Just be mindful of that if you ever visit.

After breakfast, we headed to the Royal Hawaiian Center, an outside mall filled with high fashion stores. A fun fact about the tourist area in Hawaii: The Japanese has heavily invested into the area and placed attractions that would generate revenue and/or fulfill their shopping wants and needs. A lot of high end brand labels are extremely expensive in Japan, but in Hawaii, it is a lot more affordable than what they are accustomed to paying. We didn’t come to the Royal Hawaiian Center to shop though- they offer many complimentary classes focused on Hawaiian traditions such as lei making, hula dance lessons, and ukulele. When researching things to do in Hawaii, this was at top of the list. Traveling and staying in Hawaii can get expensive, so I was very adamant about find free or affordable activities to pass the time. We opted for ukulele lessons that was taught by a Hawaiian native born and raised in the island. I point out that she is a Hawaiian native because believe it or not, there’s not many left on the island. The majority of Hawaii’s population is Asian and White. Only about 11% of the population is Hawaiian native. The instructor has been working with the center since 1994 and was filled with knowledge about the island and great energy. Ukulele was a lot harder to learn than expected! We even had to sing the song in Hawaiian! We learned that Kaimana Hila means Diamond Head which is the mountain trail we climbed during the vacation. The reason this mountain is called Diamond Head is because during the 19th century, it was believed by British settlers that they have discovered diamonds within the land. However, it was not diamonds. They were actually calcite crystals that resemble diamonds but instead are a semi precious stone.

After the ukulele lessons, we had a long conversation with the instructor. We noticed how commercialized the tourist area was and wanted to get to know about the real Hawaii. The instructor was more than willing to offer some knowledge. Although Hawaii is considered one of the 50 states, Hawaiians rather not be associated as such. Queen Liliuokalani, the first and only reigning Hawaiian queen, was overthrown by the United States. Locals refer to us as the mainland but they rather keep the island separate in association. The instructor also informed us that many locals prefer to stay away from the Waikiki Beach area. As expected, this area is not the real Hawaii. But what I didn’t know is that many of the locals cannot even stay in the hotels in the area. Overall, they feel invaded and unwelcome.

The instructor also gave us some pointers on where we can find inexpensive food that locals enjoy. The popular spot mentioned was Rainbow Inn, a fast food restaurant that serves big portions for under 8 dollars. About a 20 min walk from our hotel, we decided to foot it and see what the hype was all about. It was definitely busy within multiple lines curling around the corners of the pole outside. I didn’t take a picture of this meal because honestly it didn’t look visually appealing lol but it was tasty. I opted for the mixed plate which served fried battered ahi tuna, chicken, and steak, with white rice and macaroni salad as sides. Another local menu favorite is the Loco Moco, which is two beef patties that sit on top of a bed of fried rice, topped with a fried egg. The Hawaiians eat A LOT of rice, beef, and pork for any meal of the day.

Later that evening, we went to a hula show at the Kuhio Beach Mound. This is a free event that takes place at 6:30 PM, right before the sunset. It does get packed quickly and seating is first come, first serve. Because of this we were at the location by 5:45 PM to grab a front row seat. It was enjoyable and the scenery was beautiful on the beach as the sun began to set. They opened the show with conch blowing followed by singing and playing instruments, along with displaying several different styles of hula dancing.

Because we were being extremely budget friendly, especially with the circumstances of myself being unemployed during this trip, we opted to buy a bottle and enjoy drinks outside of the typical bars and lounges. So long story short, it was a wrap for nightlife… you know I like to keep it honest! Plus we had an early morning and long day ahead of us. We would start our next day by hiking Diamond Head 🙂

Our morning started at 7 AM. We completely skipped breakfast, although I opted for a coffee and a banana at least for energy. We checked out the bus routes and decided to get an all day pass. The buses in Hawaii are very easy to maneuver and the drivers are friendly and helpful. Diamond Head was about a 15 min ride from our hotel. It was a hot, summer day… cliche. We started our journey up the entrance of the trail, which is a hike within itself! Once you get to the entrance, they only charge $1 per pedestrian, so very affordable. The time it takes to go up the mountain varies on your physical endurance and depends on how many breaks you take. I’m not the most active so I did take a few breaks when I felt like my lungs were going to collapse. The trail is very steep and there are many, many stairs. Also, there is a lot of steep pathways with uneven ground so it’s very easy to trip if you’re not careful. I definitely reevaluated my life throughout the whole way up 😀 and oddly enough, I figured out very quickly how claustrophobic I am when we went into the narrow cave. I have never sweated so much in my life! And by the end of the trail, when we made it to the top, I legitimately wanted to cry tears of joy. But when I tell you, the views were SO worth it. It’s like believing in magic for the very first time. You get so wrapped up in the technological advances we have in our world, that you forget such beauty exists in nature.

After the trail, we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up. We wanted to check out Downtown Honolulu. First stop was the Iolani Palace, which was the royal residence of the queen. They offer self guided audio tours for just $25. Also, very close in the area, is the Honolulu Museum of Art. Tickets range around the same price as the palace.

Next stop was the Aloha Tower. Originally a lighthouse, the Aloha Tower is one of the most recognized landmarks of Hawaii, second to Diamond Head. It was built in 1926 standing as the tallest building in the islands for nearly four decades! It also served as a welcoming beacon to the island for sea travelers. Present day, the Aloha Tower is now part of a marketplace and the Hawaiian Pacific University. On the 10th floor of the tower is an observatory that offers city views overlooking the harbor.

After visiting the Aloha Tower, we decided to grab lunch (finally!). Chinatown is about a 10 minute walk from the tower. We spoke to a local bartender when we first landed and her top suggestion for food in Chinatown was The Pig and the Lady, a Vietnamese fusion restaurant. It’s a pretty casual place with cool accents within the restaurant.

The food was delicious, of course, and fairly priced…

Chinatown isn’t much of a scene during the week/day. I heard it gets very lively at night on the weekends but unfortunately, it was Wednesday and our last full day in Hawaii we had left to explore. We kept it moving.

After lunch, I had a sweet tooth and I knew just the place to go for it. When researching about Hawaii, I came across several websites that listed must try foods in Hawaii. I saw Leonard’s Bakery pop up 5 times, so you know I had to try. They are famous for their malasadas, Portuguese donuts that are fried and filled with custard or chocolate. We hopped on the bus for a 45 minute ride towards to reach our destination. After all, I was on a mission and oh so determined. As we approached the bakery, we realized very quickly that it was definitely a popular destination. The line extended all the way outside (very good sign 🙂 ).

…they didn’t disappoint. AT ALL!

After enjoying the malasadas, we went back to the hotel to rest a bit before getting ready again to head out at night. We decided to check out Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar, another local suggestion and not too far from our hotel. It was a cool vibe with dope lighting. Lots of drunk people singing for your entertainment 😀

After having a couple of drinks, we decided to call it a night. Spending the majority of the day outside, in the heat, exploring from 8 AM to midnight, we were barely hanging on. I don’t think I’ve ever slept so hard than I did that night.

On our last day, I woke up at 6:30 AM and decided to watch the sunrise on the balcony of our room. I wanted to soak up as much of this place as I could before we left. Honestly, I didn’t want to go back to reality. The harsh realization always hits the hardest on the day you depart. And our trip felt incredibly quick! Back to responsibilities…ew. My fiance and I took one last walk to the beach. Our flight didn’t depart until 1 PM, so time was of the essence. We sat on the beach. People watched. Admired the slow pace of everyone as they lounged around enjoying their surroundings. Jumping off the high ledges and splashing into the ocean. It’s moments like that when you realize this is what life should really be about. The slow moments that allow you to fully express gratitude. To absorb it all. We often take nature’s beauty for granted. So preoccupied with the busyness in our lives to appreciate our surroundings. Besides the beautiful beaches, Hawaii has some of the most beautiful flowers and trees. I wanted to spend some intentional time appreciating it all.

My final consensus of Hawaii? It’s beautiful. But I do think it receives A LOT of hype. It is very expensive to have an ‘amazing’ time there. If you ever plan to take a trip out there, my suggestion would be to get a car and get out of the tourist area. Anticipate on having at least 500 dollars for just spending money…and this does not include flight and hotel. I would love to come back and check out Northshore, which was about 45 minutes away from where we were staying, driving time. I would also love to check out the Dole Plantation. I think I would visit another island besides Oahu, as well. I hear Maui is breathtaking. We made the best out of our trip considering we had limited time and funds. I have some must do things in mind for the next time we visit. But I definitely cherished every moment of this trip. Anytime I am able to get on a plane and just go somewhere, I am grateful. So until next time Hawaii, Mahaulo! Thank you for sharing your beauty ❤