Another Year Around the Sun

I am 32-years-old today, celebrating another year around the Sun. Reflecting back on 31... what a whirlwind in the best and worst ways. But, hey, I can honestly say that I am happy. I say that so plainly because, well… it takes time. It takes time to be happy; To figure out how to be kind to yourself. To not just choose that happiness, but to feel it most unapologetically. It's taken me time and probably 32 years to get here.

Me with my Dad 32-years ago.

Me with my Dad 32-years ago.

Turning 30 was rough. Knowing that my 20's slipped away and I didn't feel like the decade was fulfilling. It was even harder dealing with a divorce this past year, something I never thought I'd ever had to experience. My 20s were brutal. A constant battle with myself, judging my weight, my style, my desire to be as cool, as hip, as smart, as “whatever” as everyone else. And, although I traveled an envious amount, I struggled with inner happiness. My teens were even worse; grappling with how to fit in, and what that also meant. As a child, I also never quite fit in with my peers. Being Latina and someone who never exactly looked like the stereotype, I found it hard to fit in with kids of my own background as well. Kids can be mean. I fell somewhere in between the mix of it all of being accepted and not. The shy little girl then hadn't had blossomed into a social butterfly yet.

But, I wouldn't change anything. Not one bit. These experiences have shaped who I am.  

“You need to know that you’re enough" the words my mom, friends, family have all said over and over to me. A mantra that has now engrained itself so profoundly within me that not a day goes by without hearing it chime in my head. So much so, it is a mantra I write at the start of my week in my bullet journal. It wasn't until a solo trip to London and Madrid that it made me realize... I am enough. I am exactly who I need to be and exactly where I need to be. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am 110% comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing, and owning every single part of it, without apologizing for who I am.

You need to know that you’re enough. That five pounds lost won’t make you happier, that more makeup won’t make you prettier, the trendiest bag or shoes won't make you cooler. That the now iconic saying from Jerry Maguire "you complete me” honestly, isn’t true. You are complete with or without a partner. You are enough just as you are. I can honestly say that being very open about my struggle with self-image, entering recovery for an eating disorder, and most recently my divorce has helped me gain perspective as to who I am, and what I want in life. My divorce more so than anything has opened my eyes that I am enough. 

So for my birthday, here’s what I would like as a gift: I want you to be kind and compassionate to yourself.

I want you to challenge yourself. I want you to stop gossiping, to smile a stranger, to try a food that scares you, to buy a coffee for someone just because, to tell someone you love them… and then to tell yourself right back.

I want you to find your happiness.

I did, and it’s never felt so good.

I am enough.

You are enough. 

Cheers, to another year of life!

What Yoga Means To Me and Why I Practice Yoga

What is Yoga and Why Do I Practice Yoga?

This is a question that I was first asked in my prep for Yoga Teacher Training at CorePower here in Portland. 

We’ve all heard the benefits of yoga. Yoga can help tone and define your muscles, it burns calories, and it can help you relax and feel rejuvenated. It's a dynamic balance that connects the mind, body and overall wellbeing

It’s often so easy in our culture and society to work so hard, study so hard to the point we felt stressed and burnt out. In my experience, it’s tough to connect to that state of being ‘in the flow’ or even finding motivation when you are tense, tight, tired, and burnt out, so that’s why I do yoga! Yoga keeps me flexible so that I can go with the flow in life, and helps me shed the layers of tension that build up mentally and physically each day. 

I started questioning my reason for my fitness choices. Was it out of ego or was there some sort of deeper purpose? Before deciding to make the first step of Yoga Teacher Training, I started to wonder why I do yoga, and why everyone else does it. My reason is simple: I do yoga because it connects me closer to myself, to others, and overall balance we all search for in this chaotic world. 

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Thinking back to my first yoga class over a decade ago, I stepped onto the mat for all the wrong reasons, and primarily because it was the super trendy thing to do. I was 18-years-old wrapped in the superficialness and materialism of living in Silicon Valley.  But, yoga was more than a trendy workout where I could sport my latest Lululemon gear. Little did I know then, how much I'd fall in love with yoga. My practice was and has become, the balance I need and the most influential teaching of personal patience

I started off wanting to get stronger, but I ended up learning about myself. My journey has turned into personal growth, and in time you do get stronger, physically and mentally. This became even more evident while in recovery from a lifelong eating disorder. During this period, yoga was the medicine I needed for inner healing. 

Over the years, as I've continued my practice, I've come across many individuals that have touched and moved me; while others have inspired me to dive in deeper. The idea of teach training was first planted over five years ago when I was still living in San Francisco. Yet, I never took the plunge. I always doubted that I was yogi because I was never embodied the yogi physic and wasn't exactly the most graceful or limber person in the class. Clumbsy is my middle name. 

I was not zen. Far from it. I lacked a lot of patience; often, my A-type personality would stop me from ever getting into the flow and silencing the endless to-do list in my mind. I also would practice consistently, then took long periods off. I never thought I was good enough to follow through training. As the years went on, and various life events happened, yoga was there. Yoga taught me the things I would struggle with on a personal level. Whatever happened, I could leave it on the mat.

I was lucky enough to have fantastic teachers, yet, Misha Kerpon was a teacher that really made me realize that you don't have to fit the yogi box and that yoga was fun. She would always make the class a lighthearted yet powerful practice. Misha had a way of making people fall in love with something she truly enjoyed sharing with the world. 

But why now? What makes this moment in time the perfect time?

Perhaps it is my recent divorce or my soul longing for a challenge, a deeper commitment to myself. I'm not sure exactly what it is just yet, but I know that this answer will become more evident in the eight weeks to come.

What I want out of it is a deeper connection to my practice, my community, and overall wellbeing. As my online persona has grown to be an influential voice within my community, I want to be able to help others find their self-love and appreciation in whatever they are struggling with. For me, yoga was my saving grace. 

Why You Should Savor Matcha Moments

By now, you've probably heard many of the health benefits of matcha tea. If you haven't tried it yet, you may want to stock up because it's so good for you!

The wellness community is ever-changing, and there seems to be no shortage of trendy diets and superfoods to try out. But how do we navigate through what is effective and what is nonsense? The science behind matcha, the green powder that people have been putting into smoothies and lattes, has proved that this superfood does indeed have some health benefits.

Read on to learn more about why you should start incorporating matcha into your regime and all of the health benefits of matcha tea that you can enjoy.

Why You Should Savor Matcha Moments

So What Is Matcha Exactly?

Matcha has been used in Japan for centuries as a traditional sacred beverage. Today, you can’t go to a coffee shop or juice bar without seeing it offered on the menu.

Matcha is a green powder made from a particular type of green tea leaf. Matcha differs from regular green tea because unlike green tea, matcha is covered and grown in the shade for up to 20 weeks before being harvested. Living and growing in the shade allows the chlorophyll levels to increase, giving matcha powder a bright green coloring. After 20 weeks, the green tea leaves are dried out and ground into a fine powder, ready to be used in your favorite coffee creation.

Health Benefits You'll Love

The health benefits of green tea have been scientifically proven time and time again, and that goes for matcha as well. Thanks to the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) found in matcha you can expect:

  • Increased metabolic function
  • Decreased risk of most types of cancers
  • Improved skin appearance
  • Improved brain function
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Decreased risk of diabetes
  • Slower aging process
  • Immune system support
  • Decreased inflammation in the body

It does everything for improved overall health and can even reverse many existing health conditions and diseases. Both matcha powder and green tea possess powerful antioxidants and healing properties, but matcha has a higher potency. Compared to your standard green tea, studies have proven that matcha has up to three times the amount of EGCG!

The Optimal Dosage

You might be wondering how much of the green powder you have to consume to get the greatest benefits. From the research, the optimal dosage is about 100 to 200 mg of EGCG, which equates to about 2 to 5 cups of matcha a day. To get the most out of this superfood, try to drink it as a tea without adding milk or any other ingredients. You can still enjoy a matcha latte in moderation - just try to include other sources as well.

The positives of drinking matcha tea outweigh the negatives, but like most things in life, there are pros and cons. Heavy metals such as lead can be found in many plant products because they absorb them from the soil. All teas, not just matcha, absorb lead at a higher rate, and it’s thought to be higher in matcha because you are consuming the whole leaf, not just what is left after steeping it.

To decrease your exposure to heavy metals in your matcha tea, try to avoid any tea that comes from China. Studies have shown that the pollution in China causes the leaves to contain higher levels of lead. Read the label on your matcha tea and make sure it’s from Japan.

What's your favorite way to enjoy matcha and ways to enjoy them?

Let me know in the comments on Instagram!

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Consciously Uncoupling & Self-Esteem

"What happened to your dogs?" 

"Why are you traveling to Europe... alone?"

"Where is your wedding ring?" 

"Why has your name changed?"

These are some of the many questions I've been faced with recently. And, this post has been a long time coming. So, let me explain...

Consciously Uncoupling & Self-Esteem

...And So Our Story Ends

There comes a time in almost every relationship where it comes to an end. It reaches a point where two individuals have stopped growing together and as individuals. Some people stay in relationships that no longer serve them because it's comfortable and the fear of the unknown and the pressures of society. For me, coming to this realization, that divorce in my 30's was in my cards was devastating. It was a hard reality to swallow. But the truth of it all is that my loveless marriage was over years ago. It wasn't evident then, but now looking back at it all, it couldn't have been more clear.

It's not just a closing of a chapter, but a book. The pages filled in this book are chapters and chapters of fun-filled adventures around the world, plenty of good belly aching laughs, silent smiles, silly moments, dancing in the desert until the wee hours of the morning at Burning Man, music festivals, BBQing with friends, trips and random moments on the coast, and the support for one another. Very few tears, fights, and arguments. The respect that we hold for one another is unparalleled. A picture perfect marriage, to say the least.

The words that became our theme throughout was that of The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” but in reality, sometimes love is not enough. It is a deeper love. It is happiness. It is companionship. It is an effortless devotion. A symphonic free flow of blending of families. A type of romance that sweeps you off your feet and effortless. 

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consciously uncoupling

Never than ever before do the words “consciously uncoupling” make sense and resonate, because this is my reality. As I look back at these last 10 years with my ex-husband, I can only thank my partner for everything he has provided for us, the support and love he has shown me, the patience he has had for me. As the days, weeks and months go on the sadness, the heavy broken heart and confusion have minimized. Some days are easier than others, while hard days -- quite few these days -- seem debilitating, going through life in an empty daze, realizing I am alone. ALONE. I'm alone in a place we relocated together in hopes to start a family and have a better quality of life than what San Francisco could ever offer us. I've walked away knowing that we had a good run together. I wish him nothing but happiness and an idyllic life filled with love. 

Those that are close to us have all been baffled and shocked that Gregg and I divorced. Just like that, it took two weeks to legally end it all. This is what happens when you have a clean break on friendly terms, when things are far from messy. And, let me just tell you, I'm still shocked by it all. I have moments where I stop to think "Holy shit, I'm divorced. WTF happen?" I never thought that this would be a reality. I really though that it would be 'until death do us part' not until Portland do us part.

The day I met him, I knew he was "the one." There was a type of magic, a feeling I cannot explain. I knew he was special, and that we would have a future together.  The day I walked down the aisle to a string quartet rendition of Coldplay's "Yellow" and the moment we exchanged our wedding vows, I never in a million years would have thought that he wouldn't be my forever love. Never in a million years would I have thought that I'd be divorced at 31... or flat out divorced. I thought I would be starting a family at this point in life, not ending mine. 

As you can imagine, this is undoubtedly the hardest decision we've had to make. I can't even express how heartbroken I am, and I know my ex-husband feels the same. Coming to terms that our relationship had reached the end, where we can no longer grow individually and as a couple, was devastating. But, I know that life has a grand plan for us, individually. I can only be grateful for having an amazing partner these last 10 years and all of the fantastic experiences we have shared together and the memories we've created.  We can only walk away from things knowing that we gave it our all. I just want him to be happy and find someone that can genuinely fulfill that. Unfortunately, this was not me. I'm grateful that things between us are very amicable and we intend to stay friends. 

Divorce Does Not Make You A Failure

And, as I'm picking up the pieces, wrapping my head around it all, and moving forward with life, it's hard to feel like a failure. A failure to not only myself, but to my marriage, my partner, family, society. I regularly have to remind myself that divorce is not a failure. Failure would be sticking around, living life unhappy with an unhappy partner, and later resenting each other. 

I’ve got hope that life is going to be alright, in whatever direction life takes me. Although this is a transition that has flipped my world upside down, and even though the future seems uncertain, unclear, and scary at times, I’ve got hope that everything is going to be alight. I’ve got hope that my path will be a lot clearer - I may not see it now hopefully it’ll be one with an abundance of life’s riches in love and happiness. 

Will I ever get married again? I'm not sure. But, I do know that I am less open to the idea of marriage not because I don't believe in love but because I don't believe in a legal bounding document to prove a deeper commitment. The legality of it all makes it that much more complicated to walk away, and not to mention the blow to your self-esteem.

Consciously Uncoupling & Self-Esteem

Rebuilding Self-Esteem 

When you've just been through a breakup, it can leave your self-esteem torn. You feel that there must be something wrong with you, even if it was a mutual break or you were the one that initiated it. Are you unlovable, unattractive, or undeserving? The truth is that you're nothing of the sort; your self-worth has taken a knock, and you need to rebuild it.

What about the heart break and moving forward? Here are five ways that I've gone about healing a broken heart...

But, guess what? Being single isn't all that bad. 

Suddenly being confronted with your newly single status may come as a shock. It's scary to lose the support and reassurance that having a partner gives you. But being single isn't all bad; once you get used to it, you'll realize that you're coping just fine. And there are some pretty good points to it; you can do what you like with your time, and don't have to deal with the problems that your relationship brought.

Breaking up doesn't mean that you aren't lovable.

Women are particularly prone to blaming themselves for the breakup. They reason that it must have been their fault somehow. Perhaps they weren't good enough for their partner. But breaking up doesn't mean that you're unlovable, or that there's something wrong with you, it just means that things didn't work out between you. Nor does it mean you'll never find love again - or that you don't deserve it.

Avoid trying to validate yourself by rebounding. 

Your confidence can really take a knock after a split, especially if your ex swiftly moves on to another woman. So you may try to give yourself a sense of validation by rushing into a new relationship, or by having one-night stands. This won't actually help your self-esteem, and could even be harmful. Don't try to prove you're desirable by having rebound relationships. 

Spend TIME with people you love.

One thing that will really help rebuild your self-esteem is to spend time with people who love you. Being around family and friends will give you an emotional boost and make you realize that there's more to life than a relationship. You'll realize that there are people who think you are amazing and love you unconditionally.

Do things you enjoy.

Although you might not feel like it, being single has a huge advantage; you can do exactly what you want with your time. You can be as self-indulgent as you like, and do all those things that your partner disliked or discouraged you from doing. Start that hobby you've been meaning to try out, resurrect an old interest, or take that vacation to a place your partner didn't want to visit.

The Most Common Exercise Excuses You Need Stop Making in 2018

The Most Common Exercise Excuses You Need Stop Making in 2018

Did you come up with some goals for 2018? It’s the 1st of the year, and you have to hold yourself accountable. No excuses! Perhaps you promised yourself that you'd live a healthier lifestyle by eating more healthy, more plant-based or by incorporating more cardio or a weight routine into your workouts?

My goal this year is to have a get back into a cross-training routine. I want to be able to do pull-ups and be a tad bit more healthy. These are all realistic and reachable goals; It is the getting their part that is a challenge.  BUT I have a plan and mini goals along the way to accomplish to achieve my big picture goals.

You see, to reach your goals, you need to stop making excuses. I and you both are guilty of them. And, believe me...I know this all too well. I know for my own goals, excuses aren't going to get me the results I want. Even when I'm the most tired and sore, I have to push myself not to let my excuse overshadow my goals, especially in the winter months when sitting at home watching Netflix with a cozy cup of hot chocolate might seem much more appealing.

I'm sure that you've used one of these excuses to NOT exercise:

  1. I’m tired.
  2. I’m hungry.
  3. I’m full.
  4. It’s too hot out.
  5. It’s too cold out.
  6. It’s raining.
  7. It’s Friday.
  8. It’s Monday.
  9. It’s too expensive.
  10. I need to lose weight before I can exercise.
  11. I don’t know what to do when I get to the gym.
  12. Everyone will laugh at me.
  13. I hate going alone.
  14. I'm too busy.

Most of these might sound a bit silly, but I’ve heard every single one of them. Without a doubt, each of us could add to this list as well.