An Open Letter to a Single Father: Thank you, Papi.

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.

Jim Valvano

You know, it is truly difficult to put into words how appreciative I am of you.

I will never have enough words. Enough gratitude. Enough love to truly express how valued and respected you are.

Papi…I know I don’t always tell you. I know I don’t keep in touch as often as I should. Or visit more. I know I should do more. You are allotted a certain amount of time on this Earth and it seems like life is constantly moving way too fast. I promise I will work on that.

I know I don’t always tell you, but you are on my mind at least once a day. I know I don’t always tell you, but I pray for your safety and health. I know I don’t always tell you, but I beam when I tell others the story of how my father, a single father, raised one hell of a daughter since the age of 13. I know I don’t always tell you, but you are my hero. You truly are. I am not sure how I would have turned out if you did not play such a critical part in my upbringing. I should tell you more.

Not many people know this story…

but it is the story of our lives and I find myself replaying certain events when I reminisce. I don’t think anyone will truly understand the weight of your sacrifices to raise me on your own. All that we went through together. It was you and me, against the world. I can’t help but tear up as I write this. I owe you everything plus so much more.

Some people may hear this story and feel pity and sympathy. But at my current age, as I reflect on what has taken place decades ago, I do not feel pity nor sympathy. Because I feel this is a story of triumph. And although the story saddens me from time to time, I truly feel it has built me into the person I am today; a reflection of you, a reflection of everlasting resilience. And I pride myself on that every single day.

Nothing could have prepared us for my mother falling ill. Nothing could have prepared us for the very core of the person we previously knew her to be would change. Those years you stuck around when she was probably the most difficult person on Earth to deal with. The years I watched you pull the sleeping cot out of the closet and set it up in the living room every night. She really tried to make your life hell…our lives, I should say. She was not the same mother or wife. For years, I was terrified of her. She continuously pushed you away and you still stayed…until she left.

We were forced to pick up the broken pieces and revise the version of life we have become accustomed to.

I know that was not easy for you. I know that some days you wondered how you can provide for me. Nights you stayed awake racking your brain. The tears spilt from trying to repair a broken home. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment and you gave me the bedroom. You worked full time, yet your presence in the household never lacked. Your guidance never lacked. Your love never lacked. I never went without, ever. Every morning and evening, breakfast and dinner was made. Every homecoming and prom, you provided. You kept a close eye on me, to keep me safe. And although I felt you were overbearing during my teenage years, you never stopped me from having a social life. I just had to abide by your rules. Too many gestures over the years to name. But I remember it all vividly and because of that, I will always be thankful for being blessed with a father such as yourself. You are truly a God sent man.

Not many people know this, but I am positive that my skill of writing came from you.

I am not even sure if you know that I am a writer because I have never directly told you. This is probably the first piece of mine you have ever read…NO PRESSURE, right? I remember the time you would spend on your poems. I still question how you were able to fill up pages; I struggle filling even one page of poetry. I remember you would translate them into Spanish and English.

But writing is not the only trait I have inherited from you. I have inherited your strength. Your common sense, a term I heard frequently throughout the years. I pride myself on being resilient, but I am sure that comes from you as well. I have DEFINITELY inherited your ‘no bullshit’ attitude and mouth LOL. I question everything because you taught me to. I stand up for what I believe in because you taught me to. I do not back down. I stand my ground because you taught me to. I am honest about the good, bad, and the ugly…because you taught me to. You taught me the importance of humility and humanity. You taught me the importance of hard work, that nothing comes in this life easy or free. You taught me that the concept of gender norms is ridiculous because not only women should hold the responsibility of cooking and household chores. You taught me that the worship of God can take place in your very home, a difference between religion and spirituality. But most importantly, you taught me the importance of maneuvering through life with love, dignity, and morale. My level of respect and standards are placed on a pedestal because you taught me from a very young age that I deserved nothing less of that.

So, you see, I turned out pretty great and it is because of you. You did an amazing job and you have very big shoes to fill for fathers to come. I love you, forever and always. I can never repay you. Thank you. Happy Father’s Day. ❤

Author’s Note:

I feel fathers get a bad rep. Many people expect a father to be dead beat, absent, or clueless when it comes to parenting. Maybe the majority of broken homes have shown this. But in my case, it was far different. My mother left and my father handled this ‘single father’ thing like a champ. I felt it was important to shine light on this. For the fathers that are active and present in the parenting of their children, whether it’s co-parenting, in a happy home, or single, I see you. You are appreciated. Enjoy this day, King. You deserve the love and recognition as well.

Land of the Free?

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.”

Kofi Annan

I have debated heavily with myself…

as to whether or not I should write about this sensitive yet very important topic.

Not because I am blind to what is taking place, or scared. I often wonder if I am credible enough to write about this. I would never want anything I say about this topic to be misconstrued. I would never want to appear as uneducated or ignorant. I would never want to offend anyone who is greatly impacted by the disgusting hate crimes displayed in our country.

As I watch what is taking place, more recently with the MURDERS of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, I can no longer remain silent. And I hope that my voice makes a positive impact in a way that it educates the ignorant and supports the oppressed. To the Black community: I hope you read this and know that not only do you have an ally in me but a friend and a confidant as well. To the people of color who are not Black and to the White community: I hope when you read this, you feel so uncomfortable that you have no choice but to no longer ignore what has been taking place and decide to stand up and support those who need us.

I am a Hispanic woman, Puerto Rican specifically.

I am in an interracial relationship with a Black man. We are soon to be married next year. My soon to be step daughter is a young Black woman growing up and witnessing this oppression. My nephews who are half Black will be faced with the harsh realization of what it means to be Black in this country. My future child will also be a target. And although African roots run deeply in my heritage, I refuse to overlook the fact that because my skin is considerably fair, I do hold privilege in America.

You see, as a Hispanic woman, I have encountered racism to a small extent. Racial slurs and stereotypes have been thrown at me like daggers. And yes, it is hurtful. But I have NEVER been physically assaulted without a just cause. I have NEVER been randomly pulled over by law enforcement just because I look ‘suspicious.’ I have NEVER had to fear that my life would be taken because of the color of my skin. And THESE reasons is why I refuse to be blind to my privilege in America. Because of THIS, I will use my privilege to advocate and stand up for the Black community.

I have seen the hashtags #AllLivesMatter splattered on social media like sloppy ink blots. I can assume the people posting it have no malicious intent (although, I do have to be honest- I can assume, but cannot confirm). I’ve witnessed the debates as to why this statement is defended. How one race is not superior to the others. How all lives should matter. Yes…it should matter but it does not.

I have witnessed the hurtful and ignorant comments. The judgements placed on the lootings and protests that have been occurring. I have witnessed the silence. The hesitation to speak up. Speak out. To support our Black people. I am not here to pass judgement on you. Only you know why you are choosing to respond in the way that you do. Maybe your support is silent and through prayer. And that’s okay too. But if the current state of our country…the racial divide, the tension, the pain, the anger, all of it…if this does not shake and rattle the very core of your being, you have some serious digging and self reflection to do.

Let me put this into perspective for you…

For centuries, Black people have endured various forms of slavery. They have endured violence. They have endured the pain of loved ones taken mercilessly away by the hands of White supremacists. Their rights are constantly stripped away in some form. And you may think this went away once segregation did, but it has not. Even when the Black people were declared ‘free,’ they are still being passed for jobs they are more deserving of. They are still misjudged by their appearance. They are still wrongfully accused for crimes they did not commit. And they are DYING on OUR streets in OUR country by the hands of those who are supposed to be protecting the people of this country. They do not have the privilege of innocent until proven guilty. And to add insult to injury, despite many efforts to remain quiet, compliant, and peaceful, once they can no longer do this because of the complete disregard this country continues to show towards these people, they are labeled as thugs, a danger to this society. So let me ask you this, is it really All Lives Matter? Are Black lives included in this?! I would really like to know.

Black Lives Matter is a movement. It’s a stand that says, “I am here for my Black brothers and sisters. I see your pain. Your struggles. The adversity. The injustice. And IT IS NOT OKAY. Change has to happen.” This movement does not take away from the lives of the other races. It is an acknowledgement that Black people have always been and continue to be at a major disadvantage than the rest of us. It’s acknowledging that the Black community needs our support. They should no longer carry this burden alone. THIS IS OUR BURDEN. They are valuable to our country. They need air to breathe. They bleed the same. The color of their skin should not be considered a crime in a country that claims Land of the Free. We must help to ensure that the Black race are given the proper love, respect, rights and LIFE that they deserve. This is a fight for humanity.

Until Black lives matter, all lives do not matter. Actions have to show that they are inclusive in this. And in the year 2020, it is obvious that they are not. We have failed them as a country. So I’m sorry, you cannot convince me otherwise. It is blatantly and disgustingly obvious.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Beautiful Black people:

Who have contributed immensely to build this country on your very own backs, who have fought in our wars, who have evolved and transformed our culture, one of the most resilient groups of people I have ever laid my eyes on- I see you. I hear you. I value and respect you. I love you all so much. You have my full support. And I am so so sorry that you were never given a fair chance in excelling in this country. You have to work twice as hard just to receive the same chances as others. You are so powerful that a country is so adamant about eliminating your very existence. That speaks volumes. We’re way overdue for a change. This has to stop. Let’s all be a part of that change. The solution and not the problem.

Praying for America. Be safe and walk with love, purpose, dignity, and with your head held high.

With sadness in my heart,

How to Manifest Your Goals: Reflections and Tips

Author’s Note:

This is my first collaboration post with fellow blogger, Harumi!

It’s been such a cool and easy going experience working with her, as we bounced ideas around to create this post about manifesting your goals. We truly hope you enjoy it!

Intro: Power of Manifestations

Angie:

So what is manifestation, you ask? The Webster dictionary defines manifestation as “one of the forms that something has when it appears or occurs” or “a perceptible, outward, or visible expression.” However, speaking from personal experience, to manifest is to create. Therefore, a manifestation is your creation. Something that you bring to your physical life by the power of your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Every person has the magical ability and power to manifest.

Harumi:

Manifestation. This used to be a big and scary word to me. Probably because as a high schooler, I had very little idea of what I wanted to do next. Graduate, get a job, get married? Was that the narrative I was supposed to follow? I had no clue. But in came new experiences, new environments, new people and with that the concept of manifestation became much more clear. A fellow blogger and friend of mine, Angie, defined manifestation as “something that you bring to your physical life by the power of your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings.” Today Angie and I will be describing our personal experiences with manifestation and our tips on how to manifest your goals!

Personal Experiences

Harumi:

When I was in college, I had a lot of anxiety surrounding what my future was going to look like. What kind of job would I do? Would I be motivated to maintain a job? What would I be doing in 5 years? I knew that I wanted to work in the special needs, but with the little work experience I had under my belt and lack of education in special education, would I even be able to land a job?? 

Once I was done with schooling, I said to myself that I was done with being afraid of my future. I was going to manifest a job in special needs! 

I started with extensive research, worked on my resume, checked the common qualifications and took opportunities that would make me more qualified, filled out multiple applications a day, and then I waited. Suddenly, there was a pouring of e-mails and phone calls. People actually wanted to interview me! From there, I had back to back interviews and soon it was time for me to make a decision between four companies. And though the decision was difficult, I was astounded that I did what I set out to do. I manifested a job!  Fast Forward to a few years later, I am still working in ABA therapy and I am so grateful for everything I’ve learned and experienced.

Angie:

Never did I picture myself landing a career in Human Resources…I have a BA in Psychology. During college, I worked for a small medical clinic as an Administrative Assistant. Fast forward 4 years later and I am the sole person in the Human Resources Department. Please know that I use the term ‘department’ VERY loosely because before me, there was no Human Resources! And although I loved my job and the clinic, I was underpaid with very limited benefits.

I began to feel that I have outgrown my position. Upon discovering that I would never progress with the clinic, I decided it was time to spread my wings. It was time to apply to positions that challenged me and offered room for growth.

I still have the notebook entry. I specifically wrote “Between July-August, I will get a higher paying job with better benefits.” Job hunting mode in full force! I landed an interview with The Women’s Tennis Association and got the job. An increase in annual salary by $7,000. A very generous vacation and sick time package and affordable and comprehensive benefits. My start date was August 27, 2018.

Although I no longer work for the company, I am grateful for the experience because it has led me to my current position and company, in which I have an even higher salary and more generous benefits. To know that I created this opportunity for myself, makes it even more gratifying. UPDATE: I just received a promotion!!

How to Manifest Your Goals:

WRITE IT DOWN

When you write a goal down, it becomes more tangible! I’ve written goals in a journal and put little notes in my hopes/dreams box, but if writing isn’t your thing, you can always create a vision board too!

BE VERY SPECIFIC

When writing your manifestation, you want to ensure that you are writing clear and detailed specifics about your manifestation. What exactly do you want? Is there a timeframe? Vague manifestations can turn into a reality you did not really desire.  

RESEARCH

Put any uncertainties to rest. By researching, you’ll gain a better understanding of what steps you need to take toward your goal.

TIME

Time plays a major part in the journey. It’s important to recognize that sometimes things don’t come instantaneously. This concept can easily be applied to anything we try to manifest, whether that be a job, saving up for a vacation, graduating from school, etc.

PUT YOUR BACK IN IT

Making dreams happen takes a lot of heavy lifting. It means putting in the effort and work, even when challenges arise.

BREAK IT DOWN INTO STEPS

I find that whenever I look at an entire project or a task with multiple steps, I become overwhelmed. Try breaking down your manifestation and recognizing that each step matters no matter how small. 

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

We all know how critical we can be when it comes to ourselves. I’ve bullied myself plenty of times. But that’s not mentally healthy or productive. Acknowledge that what you’re doing now is enough!

INTENT IS EVERYTHING

I am a firm believer that whatever you put into the universe, you get back tenfold. ENERGY. Believe that this manifestation will happen! If you have any feelings of failure, failure is what is presented. I’ve been guilty of this and quickly recognized I needed to change my intent. 

Conclusion

Harumi:

Those were some of our experiences and tips on manifestation. It’s an optimistic perspective and yes, there may be hardships while trying to achieve a major goal. So acknowledge the challenges, ask yourself if this is really what you want, and put down those stepping stones towards your aspirations. 

Angie:

Further to what Harumi stated above, the power of your manifestation is truly in your hands. Think about it. Feel it. Believe it. Then watch it come to life! 

Still not a believer of manifestations? Well there’s only one way to find out…give it a try and be sure to let us know the outcome. And if you are familiar with manifestations, what additional tips would you offer to those who are not familiar? Any personal experiences you would like to share? We would love to hear from you all!

With love,

Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on Pexels.com

Meet Harumi

A lifestyle and mental health blogger, Harumi has only been blogging for a month and a half. In such a short amount of time, she has made amazing strides in growing her audience, enhancing her site, and connecting with other bloggers. I see great things happening in her blogging future! When I asked what was the purpose of her blog, she stated, “My mission with my blog is to talk about hardships I’ve faced, heal and let go, share guidance to anyone who has gone through similar circumstances, and create a discussion.” Don’t be a stranger and make sure you show some love to her site at https://lifelivedcandidly.com/!

Mother’s Day: This Day is for You Too.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

Plato

I look inside our bedroom…

and draw my attention to the bed I made this morning. It was the first thing I did…after I sobbed upon waking up. I told myself that if I do not accomplish anything else today, at least I accomplished that.

Mother’s Day is a particularly rough day for me. Has been for years. With a strained relationship with my own mother since the age of 9, I struggled celebrating with loving intent and honor. But when you lose your own child, that initial pain transforms into a pain that feels unbearable to carry at times. With the loss of my baby last year, every holiday serve as a painful reminder, no matter how much I try to convince myself that I have come to terms and accepted it.

Funny enough, or maybe not funny at all, I almost forgot about Mother’s Day this year. Every month I organize my dry erase calendar, adding important reminders to the days of the month. When I organized the calendar this month, it did not even cross my mind. I honestly did not realize Mother’s Day was approaching until last week. I guess it makes sense in a way. How the subconscious tries to protect you from the pain lying dormant, deep within. Even after my realization that Mother’s Day was approaching, I felt fine. Realistically, most days I feel fine, even with the thought of my baby crossing my mind daily. I really thought I would be fine today.

What I forgot is grief has no expiration date.

I forgot that some days are much harder than others to operate ‘normally’ in society. I forgot how lonely it can feel in the isolation of pain, especially when it comes to loss. I understand the discomfort people feel with this topic. I understand the dismissiveness. The lack of compassion and understanding. I get it. Because unless you experience something like this, you truly do not understand the weight of this pain. How it sneaks up on you in the most inconvenient times, or especially in my case, on holidays when I should be celebrating instead of grieving. And I think the scariest part of all, is realizing that this pain may never go away. It does not get easier, no matter how much you try to adapt.

As my heart breaks with every word I type within this post, I do not ask for pity. I do not even ask for sympathy. Let this serve as a gentle reminder to give those who are grieving today a little extra love and care. Check up on them. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Praying for them. That they have a shoulder to lean on during this difficult time.

I think the biggest misconception people have…

is that it is better to remain silent when it comes to a loss like this. I am here to tell you it is not better. Do not be afraid to wish a bereaved mother a Happy Mother’s Day. Do not be afraid to contact the daughter or son who has lost her mother. Do not be afraid to send love to a woman who yearns to be a mother but has not been granted the opportunity. A person who yearns for a relationship with their own mother. Small acts of kindness such as this shows that you see this person and their pain. That they are not alone. That their pain is valid and acknowledged. For me, it means more than any of you could ever possibly know. The greatest gift that could be given to me from a loved one today is to honor the memory of my child along with me. Thank you to those who have contacted me with kind and loving words. I know I have not responded…but I will. Thank you for granting me time and space today and for not taking my distance personally.

To all of you experiencing pain and sorrow today, I am here. You are not alone. I see your pain and I am thinking of you.  It is okay to acknowledge your own pain and process it however your spirit sees fit. And know that when you are ready, you will find many reasons to celebrate and cherish a day like today. Rather than focusing on the entire day, I am going to take it hour by hour, minute by minute, and celebrate the small wins. I guess I have just accomplished something else today. Sending so much love to all the mothers and to those who may need it today. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

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A New Tomorrow: Life After Quarantine.

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Henry Ford

I’ve honestly lost track of the days…

At this point, I’m not sure how many weeks I’ve been quarantined. The days and hours seem to run together as I act like a mad scientist in my lab channeling different creative outlets to keep myself sane. Overall, I’ve done quite well. But it does feel strange, as this is starting to feel like the new norm. So then it has me thinking, “What will life be like after we are released from our ‘prison’ sentences?”

Tomorrow is only a day away…

I believe there has been a certain shift in the universe. The Earth seems to be healing. Broken homes are mending as well. We are addressing inner conflicts and demons, as we have no other choice due to the forced circumstances of isolation. We all have been given opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade. These past couple of months have really displayed the ability to embrace the unknown; keeping the faith for better days to come. Strangers are comforting each other and working together. Parents are starting to manage homeschooling their children effectively, while adjusting to working remotely. We are choosing video chats over texts. Conversations with substance over small talk. Love over hate.

As a collective, we have become more mindful of the things we have taken for granted in the past. The chill of the ocean when you first dip your toes into the water. The warmth of the sun as you stroll along on crowded streets. The bliss of physically embracing our loved ones. The freedom to go any place our hearts desire, without worrying about the safety of our health. The majority of us have taken so many of these moments for granted. And in a way, this pandemic has snapped us back to reality. Time is borrowed and never guaranteed. So is this good or bad?

A fresh perspective…

Many lives have been lost. Many businesses have been forced to close down and lay off their workers. Many people have been isolated and continue to struggle with immense feelings of loneliness. The air of uncertainty is ever so present. However, somehow, we have adapted to our circumstances. Humans are made to adapt and overcome. We learn from our adversities and heartaches. And I think nothing proves these statements more than what we have witnessed on a societal level as we try to combat the coronavirus. Along with the air of uncertainty, has come a wave of unity.

I cannot predict the future…

I’m not sure how life will be after quarantine. But I can tell you what I hope for…

I hope we all choose to hold our loved ones a little bit longer and tighter. I hope we continue to remain connected with those loved ones, even if it’s not in person. I can’t wait to see my family and friends again.

I hope households continue to have family dinners together. To have real conversations and truly listen and acknowledge one another. My pastor was sharing the word during one of the services this past Sunday, and expressed how amazing it felt to have dinner with his family. Something that hasn’t been done in years. I mean, truly, that is beautiful.

I hope we never allow the busyness of our lives to interrupt the nurturing of our relationships and the intentional connections to be made, inside and outside of our homes. I may be biased but quality time is a universal love language. It does the soul good.

May we never take waking up each day for granted. Or having the ability to breathe deep in our healthy lungs. A new day is a blessing within itself and I express gratitude for it each day. For this, we are blessed beyond measure.

May we continue to appreciate Mother Earth and marvel at all the beauty she continues to offer. I’m sure a lot of us have had the time to smell the roses, literally. My outside walks have literally saved me during this whole ordeal. I’ve never paid attention to the details of the trees, grass, and sky before. This Earth is vibrant in so many ways. Be present.

I hope we continue to be resourceful, even when not faced with adversity. I’ve noticed people growing their own plants, fruits, and vegetables. People have been doing many DIY projects around their homes. People have even made their own hand sanitizer with aloe vera plants and rubbing alcohol. How amazing is that?

May we continue to utilize rest and relaxation above all else. Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to simply slow down. Many of us have forgotten what it means to pour love and positivity into ourselves. This quarantine has been such an eye opener for me in this particular area of my life. It’s okay to stop worrying about all I have to do and check in with myself. It’s okay to put myself first before others. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

I hope we all continue to practice cleanliness and preventative measures… cause like, come on…we should’ve all been practicing this way before the pandemic!

But most importantly, I hope we all continue to practice compassion and keep the concept of love on the pedestal that it deserves. If we have learned anything during this pandemic is that we are all in this together, no matter the gender, age, race, or social class. This virus makes no discrimination. Let’s continue to offer support and love to those who need it most (which is all of us). Don’t waste any time on hatred. Life is too short.

Life is but a dream…

I’m dreaming of a better tomorrow where the shadow period of 2020 is a memory of the past. What are some changes you would like to see in life after quarantine? Any predictions? I’d love to hear from all of you. Stay safe, healthy, and inspired friends. xoxo

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It’s My 1 Year Anniversary!

It’s been one full year…

On April 4, 2019, I released my first blog post ever on my newly created site. I remember how nervous I felt hitting the ‘Publish’ button.

What if I was judged by what I wrote? What if this was all a waste of time? Not to mention how amateur my site looked! For those of you who have been a part of my journey from the very beginning, you know what I’m talking about! That ugly salmon color background with my childish fonts lol it’s definitely been quite the journey.

I am so proud of how far I have gotten within the past year. I took a chance and did something completely out of my character. I finally pushed myself out of my own comfort zone. Not only does it cause for celebration, it also causes for reflection on the past year. Reflecting on my purpose for this all. How far I have come. The obstacles I have encountered along the way. The accomplishments I have achieved.

The beginning…

I’ve always been a writer. When I was 11, I was in my 7th grade English class. Mr. Riviezzo, I will never forget his name. He used to make us do writing prompts with background instrumentals. We would have to create a storyline based on the mood of the music, and then change the events of the storyline anytime the mood of the music was changed. It was in this moment I realized I loved writing.

I kept a notebook of poems all throughout middle and high school. During and after college, people would pay me to write their papers in hopes of getting an A. I never disappointed. But yet despite all of this, I never had the confidence to publish my work for the public to see. I never shared any of my writing. It was my secret to cherish. My escape. And most times, my writing was so emotionally fueled. I just wasn’t ready to expose those demons.

At the age of 28, I decided to sharpen my skillset. I took writing courses. I practiced daily journaling. I expressed interest in publishing a book. It was becoming more obvious to me that this is what I wanted to do with my life; write and connect with others.

Soul Searching…

A month after my 29th birthday, my fiancé and I found out that I was pregnant. Hit the panic button! I wasn’t ready…like at all. Neither was my fiancé. But after the initial shock wore off, we welcomed the circumstances and began making plans for our future with the benefit of the baby in our minds. God had other plans…

We walked into my first doctor appointment anxious with excitement to see our baby. The excitement didn’t last long. What was supposed to be one of the happiest days in my life, turned out to be the most heartbreaking. My baby wasn’t going to make it. The pregnancy had been deemed abnormal.

After I lost the baby, I fell into a deep depression. I barricaded myself in the house for 3 weeks, unable to pull myself together to face anyone. I was grieving. I felt ashamed that my body could not do what a woman’s body is meant to do. I failed.

My journey for healing became my first priority. I worked avidly at it. I decided I needed to live my life, on my terms. I searched for peace and happiness like a person searches for water in a desert. But above all, I wanted to honor the memory of my baby.

My site was born…

5 weeks after losing my baby, I decided to create a personal blog. I vowed to always express myself honestly and vulnerably. I vowed to write about topics that were raw, no matter how painful and uneasy. I vowed to connect with others on a level that I never thought was imaginable. Something clicked. Feeling that much pain and anguish puts a lot of things into perspective. If I felt like this, how many others felt the same? Do they feel as alone as I felt during that time?

Healing does not need to be lonely. The power of healing can be magnified through the strength in numbers. Through togetherness. Unity.

Blogging journey…

I’ve made many mistakes and will continue making them. Learning how to create my site was definitely a challenge. I am not that tech savvy. I had to rehash my Myspace skills after a decade…disastrous. A lot of trial and error. Stumbling along the way, deciphering what is appropriate to promote. What is effective marketing? How can I keep my audience constantly stimulated and interested? But I truly love writing. I love blogging. I love connecting with others on a deeper level. It’s enough to keep me motivated and to continue pushing myself towards perfecting my craft.

What I learned this past year-
  • Not everyone will support and that’s okay! Seriously, it’s not personal.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers. There is no real timeline and everyone has their own journey.
  • Enjoy the process! The ups, the downs, all of it! It’s a true learning experience.
  • Connecting your site to your social media platforms makes life SO much easier.
  • Grow your audience organically. It’s a marathon, not a race.
  • Stop obsessing over statistics. Horrible for my mental health! I’m too analytical and way too hard on myself.
  • Monetize, monetize, monetize.
  • Show love to your fellow bloggers! Gain support by giving support.
What I have accomplished this past year-
  • Over 400 blog followers
  • Created a Twitter account…I never thought I’d see the day.
  • Upgraded my site and created a cleaner theme and layout.
  • Several guest column articles for a local internet magazine.
  • Growing my following on all social media platforms. Key word-ORGANICALLY.
  • Flew to France for a company retreat to present one of my articles on stepping out of your comfort zone.

What’s next for ang meets soul?

That’s a hard question to answer! Definitely focusing on providing more quality content. Looking forward to connecting with more people. Creating more opportunities for exposure. Researching sponsors and collaborations. I am open to any opportunity that might present itself.

advice to people starting a new venture…

Don’t overthink it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. And don’t expect overnight success. Anything worth having takes continuous effort, non stop research, and an abundance of time. Don’t allow yourself to be overcritical and just enjoy the journey for what it is- a learning experience. Learning is half the fun. I know that sounds cliché but it’s a super fact. But above all, keep going!

thank you ❤

From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank my supporters enough. I know I must sound like a broken record at this point but it is only because I truly mean it. Seriously, THANK YOU. I was in a really dark period in my life and all of your support has kept me above the surface. It motivates me to spread awareness on topics that matter. Because of all of you, I continue to push myself to connect with others in the most positive light that I can. You all really keep me going! I enjoy receiving your feedback and reading your comments. Please don’t ever stop reaching out to me lol. You are all beyond appreciated and I am eternally grateful. I hope you all continue this journey with me and ride it out until the wheels fall off. Happy Friday everyone xoxo.

Enjoy what you read? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to click the ‘Like’ button as well! Also, don’t forget to hit the ‘Follow’ button to receive updates on new posts.

I am available on the social media platforms located below in the icons. Don’t hesitate to connect and say hi 🙂

Quarantini: 6 Habits to Stir Up during a Quarantine.

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”.

Marjorie Pay Hinckley

None of us signed up for this…

But here we are. I know there is a thick fog of uncertainty throughout the world. I know it looks grim. I know we are all anxiously anticipating when normalcy will begin to creep back in. For me personally, any glimpse of it would give me hope. And although we must process all emotions that we are currently feeling, acknowledging them, and letting them go, we must also figure out how to make good out of a pretty bad situation. This is how you keep your energy pure during a time like this. This is how you stay spiritually strapped. Also, this is how you start to find the positives in any situation, good or bad.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Ironically enough, the habits I am about to list were much harder for me to achieve when life was ‘busy.’ Before, I often struggled and rarely kept myself accountable for some of these habits. Granted, I am not a fan of this quarantine. I long for a mimosa at an actual restaurant for brunch. I long for the day that the slightest tickle in my throat or obnoxious sneeze is not sent back with burning glares from others. Just for the record, people who suffer from allergies during allergy season (like me) are NOT doing okay right now! Oh, the judgement. Regardless, the situation is here. This is our present and reality. Life continues. We have to continue with it; adapt and accept. So why not use this time to truly reflect, do some internal work, and develop healthy habits as coping mechanisms? To relieve the anxiety. The sadness. The loneliness. The stress. All of it. There’s no better time to start. A lot of distractions have been removed. Take this opportunity to reconnect with yourself.

1. Meditation and/or Stretching.

I could never develop this habit before the quarantine. But now, I find myself doing this every morning. Meditation helps with clearing your mind and energy. It’s a great way to express self-love. It’s an opportunity to cater and nurture yourself. It has become a beloved morning ritual of mine. I wake up and after brushing my teeth, the first thing I head to is my yoga mat. I light my Palo Santo, give gratitude for living another day, and grab my energy crystals. I like to throw on meditation music such as a sound bath with singing bowls, and I really check in with myself. Am I feeling sad? Hopeless? Anxious? Content? Happy? I acknowledge whatever I am feeling and I sit in it for a bit. Then I take three deep breaths and let it go. I begin my stretching and by the second stretch pose, my back cracks EVERY TIME lol…the joys of getting old! Stretching allows me to focus on my breathing. It allows me to start my day with some form of movement. And of course, gets all the knots out. Then I just stay still. I welcome the stillness. A lot of people struggle with this particular part but it is the most nurturing. You start to think of something? That’s ok. Let it go and continue to focus on your stillness. I’ve gotten so dedicated to this habit that most times, I easily do thirty minutes without realizing.

2. Daily Vitamin Intake.

I could never remember to take my vitamins consistently. And as you get older, it becomes more important. Besides your typical multivitamin, I never paid attention to what vitamins I should be taking and well…things are forced to be different now. I need my immune system to be in tip top shape, as I am sure all of you want the same! I am not a doctor in any way, shape, or form, so I won’t list all the vitamins I take and explain the benefits. However, I will tell you some of the vitamins you should consider including in your daily diet: Vitamin C, Garlic extract, and Oil of Oregano extract. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Garlic extract not only prevents colds, but alleviates the symptoms. When you have a cold, this makes your immune system more susceptible to viruses. Oil of Oregano extract has been shown to stop the growth of several kinds of bacteria. All of these are great for your immune health and given the current circumstances, I’m sure this is top priority for many of you.

3. Daily Dose of Sunlight.

Depending on what part of the world you’re in, quarantine orders may be a little more severe than others. If you are able to step outside for a walk, I highly suggest it. There is no better feeling than feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D. Research has shown that lower levels of Vitamin D has been linked to depression. This is another habit I have built, courtesy of quarantine life. In the past, the only time I really stepped outside was if I had to go someplace. Before the virus, I was already accustomed to working from home. But now, there is no escape at all. No gym. No in person church service. No Ross…I’m suffering without the restock of my candles! The only time I really get to give myself a break from the house is when I go for my daily walks. If you are unable to step out of the house, then open your windows and let the sunlight shine through. It will still make you happy, I promise 🙂 every ounce counts.

4. Move your Body!

Exercise has been a consistent routine of mine for the past couple of years. However, without being able to go to the gym, I am forced to get creative with my workouts. Although I am not a huge fan of at home workouts, I have been able to incorporate yoga and your standard workout routines such as squats, lunges, sit ups, etc. But my favorite workouts are outside. Sometimes I will go for a light jog. Most times I am climbing the stairs of my apartment complex with buildings that are three stories tall. It allows me to enjoy the scenery while I feel the burn. Not a fan of exercise? That’s ok. Find other ways to get your body moving and your heart rate up. You can take walks, you can dance, you can stretch, jump rope, anything! Find something enjoyable to you and apply it into your daily routine. Put the quarantine snacks away!

5. Pick up a New Hobby.

During this quarantine, a lot of creative platforms are offering several of their services for free. There are many yogis that are offering yoga and meditation sessions virtually (I’ve attended a few on IG Live). There are many online courses with waived fees that allow you to pick up a new skillset (I’ve enrolled in a 4-week Digital Marketing course and a 10-week wellness course offered by Yale…I may be doing too much). There are even artists offering paint classes virtually as well (one in particular that I can think of- @thepaintnetwork on IG; they have been doing weekly affirmation paintings via Zoom). We have an abundance of time that will be spent in our homes, so rather than mindlessly scrolling on social media or binge watching Netflix, you can use this time productively. Perhaps you want to pick up journaling? Go for it! And when all else fails, read a book. I have so many books I have collected over the years that are collecting dust…yes, I neglect reading too, even as a writer. I’m looking forward to cracking them open and getting lost in another reality.

6. Budget your Expenses.

Let’s be transparent. We don’t really know how badly this virus will affect our economy. We are getting glimpses but the reality is, it may get worse before it gets better. Now is not the time to spend your money on anything that is not considered a necessity. Many people are forced to not work because there is no proper care for their children while schools are closed. Many businesses have been forced to shut down. Many people are being laid off. Economically, we are not okay and it is very possible we might hit a recession. And I am not saying this to scare all of you. I’m simply saying this as a notice to prepare. To be completely honest, my household has been impacted economically and it’s definitely a wake up call to evaluate our expenses. Now is the time to save as much money as we can. Be mindful. Be aware. And don’t panic. Make a plan and follow through. These circumstances won’t last forever. It’s just a matter of when we will be able to bounce back.

I hope these tips help you weather the storm in the most positive way that is accessible to you. Do your best to create a routine that works for you and brings you joy. Try to stick to that routine until it becomes the norm. Actively work at it and do your best. During these times, we need to shower ourselves with love. Keep those vibrations high. And remember, that despite the negative that may be taking place in your life, you get to live another day. Some people have not been as fortunate. You have a roof over your head and food in your fridge. Some people can’t say the same. And know, that this too shall pass. Find the silver lining and hold onto it. Sending my love to all of you and pocketing some for myself ❤ Happy Quarantine.

Sex on the First Date: Battle of the Choices

Sex is as important as eating or drinking and we ought to allow the one appetite to be satisfied with as little restraint or false modesty as the other.

Marquis de Sade

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free…

SHUT THE EFF UP. Take your opinions, place those opinions on a spiked bat, and shove the bat up your… *breathes deep* I despise this phrase. Why? First of all, it places ‘price tags’ on women as if we are objects instead of human beings. I believe I speak for all women when I say, we cannot be bought. This is not rent to own. There will be no owning, PERIOD! Second of all, it has placed unnecessary insecurities and shame amongst generations of women. So much so, that several women actually question their worth and wonder if they are relationship worthy. They wonder if men will think any less of them for expressing themselves sexually and allowing intercourse to occur on the first date. And can you blame these women for their insecurities? Slut shaming and other demoralizing ways of attacking a woman’s character has been the norm for decades. Third of all, it has placed rules on an action that comes so naturally to us all, men AND women. Why is it better to wait for date #3 to have sex as opposed to the first date? It’s not like you know that person that much more extensively. It’s still a short amount of time in comparison! Trust me, takes YEARS to fully get to know someone. And having sex on the first date does not mean that you will automatically get ghosted. Yet, these misconceptions continue to focus on repressing female sexuality causing many women to feel confused as to what is considered the ‘right’ thing to do. Don’t get me wrong- I am not advocating that all women should have sex on the first date. However, I feel that every woman is entitled to make this decision without judgment from others.

What constitutes as a date?

Personally, I feel any time that is scheduled with another person one on one with the intent of spending time solely with that person, would be considered a date. Can be as elaborate as making reservations at the top restaurant in town or as simple as Netflix and Chill (although this method makes it super tempting to have sex right away!). Honestly, there’s no rules to this shit. You’re attracted to a person, you make a move to hang out, then 9 times out of 10, it’s a date. But of course, if it is established that the hang out is solely for sex, then consider it a booty call…I guess. Oh, the technicalities.

You think you want to have sex on the first date…

You meet this guy. You both go out to dinner. He’s f**king beautiful. He smells good. His sense of style is on point. Conversation is bomb. He seems genuinely interested in what you have to say. He has ideas, input, SUBSTANCE. The chemistry is unmatched. And by the time the bill comes around and he automatically reaches to pay, you’re hot and heavy and wondering what it’s like under the hood. Go for it! I am a firm believer in energy. If the energy feels right, then why not? More often than not, sex is a strong indicator of the connection between two people. Sex plays an important role within any healthy relationship and allows intimacy to flourish. Making this decision should not diminish your chances of forming a long-term relationship, but only contribute to whether or not you could potentially see a future with this person. As long as the feeling is mutual and consensual, don’t overthink it. It’s all about your own comfort levels. And if you decide to take the plunge, I HIGHLY encourage that you use protection. You may know that the chemistry is amazing but you do not know him. Safe sex is still the wave sis.

You’re against the idea of first date sex…

Honestly, that’s okay too! There are many reasons why women decide not to have sex on a first date. Some women want to get to know the person a little more and build a comfort level before sharing intimacy with them. Some request that their partner get tested before sexual intercourse (smart!). Others feel that sex is enhanced once there are solid, romantic and emotional feelings towards their partners, so they rather wait for that connection. There should not be any form of reverse shaming for deciding to wait either. We are all entitled to making the best decisions for ourselves and our bodies and spirits, dependent on whatever circumstances. This choice should be yours and yours only! If you are not comfortable or have any doubts, then listen to your gut feelings. Deciding not to have sex right away should also not diminish your chances of forming a long lasting relationship.

My stance on having sex on the first date…

I’m totally for it! Every time? No. But there has been certain situations where I felt I connected with my date on so many levels and felt extreme attraction to this person, so I went for it. Most times I did not regret it lol. Other times, I ran for the hills and became Casper- the UNFRIENDLY ghost. Super ghosted. And I NEVER feel ashamed, whatever the outcome. I am a grown woman who enjoys sex. I am in charge of my own emotions and body, and I am fully capable of making decisions that I feel 100% comfortable making. When I made a decision to do so, I practiced safe sex and would regularly get tested. Granted my dating days are long gone now…someone found me worthy *insert upside down smiley face emoji* Just goes to show you, a decision like this won’t ruin your chances of finding love and commitment.

What is your choice?

I am curious to hear from all of you. Calling all ladies! Do you believe in having sex on the first date? What are some of your reasons behind this decision? Or are you completely against it? Why? I would love to hear some male perspectives as well. Do you think less of a woman when she has sex on the first date? Do you automatically label her as someone you are unwilling to form a relationship with? Let’s bridge the gap and start a real conversation about this. Looking forward to all of your feedback and stories. Stay assertive, friends.

For more content, please follow me on Instagram at @ang_meets_soul

30 Things to Let Go of By 30.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot

So much life to live…

For a lot of us, approaching 30 is one hell of a scary thought. You’re probably freaking out and obsessing over the assumption that time is running out to reach all of your dreams and goals. How many of you have thought to yourselves “By the time I’m 30, I’m going to be married with children, live in a gorgeous home, have the career of my dreams, and take annual vacations to exotic places with my family.” No? Just me? Fair enough. But I can almost guarantee that the majority of you have set unrealistic goals by the time you reach 30. Or perhaps, they aren’t unrealistic at all, but you feel you have not or may not succeed within your forsaken deadlines. I can understand the anxiety over welcoming a new decade of life. It’s almost like you’ve been walking through life half asleep and received the most disrespectful wake-up call of your existence. Life smacks you upside your head and tries to warn you that you really don’t have as much time as you initially believed. Because that’s the thing about time- it keeps moving. We have to be legitimate adults now, right? However, this does not call for a pity party. I see it two ways: Either you grab life by the horns and go after what you want or you drown in your own misery and worry.

So I hope all of you are in agreement that Option 1 is the ONLY way…

If not, bear with me. Your 30s don’t have to be the nail on your coffin. Believe it or not, your life is not over! You can actually be proactive in ensuring that this next decade of life is not only enjoyable and filled with happiness, but equally productive as well. So before I move forward, take a deep breath. Let go of your avoidance. Grant yourself patience (and me because this is a long read!). And be open-minded of the list I am about to provide you- 30 things to let go of by 30.

1. Your Comfort Zone.

29 was a huge “coming of age” year for me. I went through a massive transformation which included many harsh realizations and heartbreaks. In return, I was pushed…well, dragged (kicking and screaming, by the way) to find the silver linings within it all. One of those silver linings was realizing that I could no longer remain in my comfort zone. Ladies and gentleman, this is why this blog even exists in the first place. Stepping out of my comfort zone has allowed me to become a guest columnist for a local magazine. It has allowed me to be open and vulnerable about my inner demons. It has allowed me to connect with so many others on such a deep, spiritual level. It has even allowed me to attend a company retreat in France and present my article to my colleagues about this very topic. So when I tell you, stepping out of your comfort zone is such an amazing step in the right direction, please believe me.

2. Constant Need to Stay Connected.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our phones these days. I’m guilty of doing the same, so no shame towards anyone. But at some point, we have to learn how to disconnect. You do not have to post everything you are doing (yes, pictures of your meals for IG are included in this statement) on social media. Cherish some memories for yourself and focus on living in the moment. You do not have to respond to your loved ones’ texts immediately. You do not always have to answer someone’s call right away, or even call back immediately if you are not in the mental space to do so! I personally like to leave my phone on silent at all times and tend to put my phone away from me as I start to wind down in the evening. Why? Well first of all, I get extremely anxious with all the notifications I tend to receive. And second of all, I’m adamant about disconnecting at least a couple of hours per day. It is the best form of self care I can give myself. I’ll read a book or draw a warm bubble bath or sip on a glass of wine while I mindlessly scroll through Netflix and catch up on some shows. The opportunities are endless!

3. Unmet Expectations for Others.

Have any of you read ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz? It’s literally one of the most enlightening books I have ever read. Without giving too many spoilers, one of the agreements is not take anything personally. In a nutshell, what others do is not because of you. You can also think of this on the flipside, that what others do not do is not because of you. This simply means that if someone has fallen short of your expectations, do you truly believe it was done with intent and purpose towards you? How others treat or react towards you is a projection of their reality, not your own. Once you become immune to the actions of others, you release cycles of suffering. It is okay to hold a standard for how you want the people around you to treat you. But to dwell and take it personally, no. This is why I believe expectations of others should be thrown out of the closest window you can find. Seriously…find one now. Wish those people well and keep it moving.

4. Dismissing your Mental Health.

This idea has been a slap to my forehead lately. As much as I advocate for mental health, I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to therapy. And trust me, I’m way overdue for it! Last year became this big, neon sign that kept directing me to focus on my mental health. Slowly, I have been taking the necessary steps. And at 30 years old, I can no longer ignore the issues I seemed to have never got around addressing. Therefore, I am looking into therapy this year and I am nervous, intimidated, and excited, all at the same time. So if you feel that you have been neglecting your mental health, it is never too late to start taking the steps to improve your situation.

5. Horrible Eating Habits.

As important as mental health is, physical health and your overall well being are just as important. Once you hit 30, your body does not operate the same it would have in your teens and twenties. It becomes harder to remain healthy. And so, you have to work harder at maintaining your health. This includes your eating habits. From 30 and on, you become prone to weight and fat gain, high cholesterol, higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, and so on. At this point, you should probably start viewing your body as a temple and become mindful of what you place inside your body. Unfortunately, this may mean no more late night runs to Wendy’s and getting the 4 for 4. Insert sad sigh. Personally, I have been focusing on my eating habits and recently made the decision to become a pescatarian, meaning a diet with no meat and only fish, along with other plant based options. I’m on Day 23; so far, so good.

6. Personal Timelines.

This is our enemy!! It feeds our inner critic and has the audacity to tell us that we are only valued by the work we put out into this world. It’s a lie and we have been conditioned to become slaves to this idea. It is healthy to set goals for yourself. It is healthy to devise a life plan and set out to accomplish it. However, it is NOT healthy to remain shackled to these timelines. Life is a constant rollercoaster and will not always work in your favor. So if you find yourself making certain goals with timelines, and feel that you are not accomplishing them, which in turn provokes feelings of unworthiness, throw the whole timeline away. I’m going to say it again: Your value is not dependent on your work!

7. Unauthenticity.

I cannot stress how important it is to let go of this. It takes way too much energy and effort to pretend to be something you are not. And 9 times out of 10, others will see right through your bullshit. But besides others noticing, imagine the damage you are inflicting on yourself for not being authentic. You may be scared to show your true colors. You may feel judged or misunderstood. But nothing is worse than not remaining true to yourself. Allow others to get to know the ‘real’ you and make their own judgment. If they are not accepting of you, then this simply means that they are just not a part of your tribe, and that’s okay.

8. Procrastination.

Not to alarm you or anything but we’re not getting any younger. What exactly are you waiting for? Want to start a business? Do it. Want to travel overseas? Do it…well, maybe wait until the whole coronavirus is settled. Want to start a new career? Do it. Do everything and anything your heart desires that will bring you closer to achieving your own happiness, autonomy, and success. Procrastination will only hold you back from progressing. There is never a better time than now to do it.

9. Tired Excuses.

I am a stickler when it comes to accountability. This can cover a range of circumstances. Whether it is excuses as to why you cannot do something or excuses to explain how you are not in the wrong. Whatever your excuses and reasoning behind those excuses, just drop it. All this energy that you are exerting for excuses to defend an action of yours, or lack of, could be channeled into motivation for finding a solution for progression. Admitting to yourself that you hold power in the choices you make is a God given right. Sometimes this means you have to look at yourself in the mirror and truly evaluate how you may be contributing to your circumstances. We don’t only have to grow in age, we can grow in our mindset as well.

10. Toxic People.

Dropping these is a whole mood. As you get older, you realize what you are willing to accept and not accept. This includes the people in your life. You will become wiser and more mindful of the energy released around you. And unfortunately, you may recognize that the people you once considered close to you, are toxic blood-sucking demons trying to keep you in a constant space of worry, hurt, and disappointment. Last year, I lost too many ‘friends’ for my comfort. But as I look back and reflect, I have accepted the fact that this was absolutely necessary in order for me to progress in my life. You pay attention hard enough and you will clearly see who has your best interest at heart, who is truly rooting for your success, and who truly values you and respects you for the role you play in their life. Vibes don’t lie, folks. Walk away from these toxic people and send them peace to continue on without you.

11. Acceptance.

It is basic human need to feel connected to others and accepted by all. But if you haven’t realized this by now, you will soon realize that this will not always be the case. Looking for acceptance from others will drag your spirit and keep it stagnant. Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Not everyone will like you. No matter how loving and nurturing you are. No matter how funny or intelligent you are. No matter how beautiful or talented or gifted or successful you are. No matter what you do, some people will just not like you. I’ll let you in on a little secret…has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Sometimes, your spirit will irritate the demons of others, and there is nothing you can do about it. My best piece of advice would be to focus on accepting yourself. There are only two people you have to face and answer to: yourself and God. Everyone else are opinions no one bothered to inquire about.

12. Irresponsible Spending Habits.

Being a responsible, financially stable adult, especially once you enter your 30s, is an important transition in your life. One of the top priorities, in my opinion, is to ensure that you are tucking away money for savings and emergencies. If you are spending ridiculous amounts of money and don’t have at least 1k stacked for a rainy day, please do better. Not for me, for yourself. Now, I do want to clarify, I am focusing on careless spending, not the necessary spending that is poured into your bills. Stop thinking small and spending large amounts of money towards drunken nights, restaurant dates, impulsive clothing buys, etc. You really don’t need a 150k car because it looks good for your image and promotes bragging rights. The compliments are nice but I promise you, at the end of the day, no one really cares what you are driving. Start thinking of a bigger picture- owning your own home, saving for retirement, working towards being debt free. That’s where the real freedom can be found. But of course, if you are spending large amounts of money on the items mentioned above, but can comfortably afford it and are able to save as well, then kudos to you.

13. Avoiding Conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. If you are afraid to address conflict in any area of your life, you are going to experience a difficult time maneuvering throughout your existence. Keeping quiet about what bothers you to keep the peace? Yeah, no. Don’t do it. It will only build resent inside of you until you finally explode because you cannot bear dealing with it anymore. Passive aggressive? Why? Be direct and confident in how you feel and what steps you want to take to resolve the issue. Communicate. Explain. Listen. Be honest. All tools for success in addressing conflict. As you get older, conflict only becomes more difficult to handle. Also, NEVER make assumptions. You cannot truly understand how the opposite party may feel until you ask for clarification. What you might have thought was conflict, was merely a misunderstanding.

14. Lack of Sleep.

Ever heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I die?” Well, lack of sleep will speed up that process. It is vital to get at least 6 hours of sleep. Anything less than that on a consistent, long term basis will lead to higher risk of disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, weight gain, and even depression. Plus, let’s face it. Our 30 year old bodies can’t hang like they used to. Personally, I need a legitimate 48 hours to recover from one night of partying.

15. Over apologizing.

I was a repeat offender of this for a very long time and it is just now that I am being mindful in changing my approach on how often I apologize. I am the type of individual to say sorry if I breath the wrong way and I feel like I’m annoying you. Apologies should not come so frequently that you are doing it every other sentence. Over apologizing can lessen the significance of a sincere apology. If you arrive late to a function and find yourself apologizing, flip it around and instead thank the person for being patient for your arrival and their understanding. Furthermore, stop apologizing for circumstances that does not significantly impact another person’s life negatively. Stop making yourself feel inadequate and feed the need to overcompensate for your unnecessary guilt. In other words, boss up.

16. Destructive Behaviors.

Some of us have created coping mechanisms as an aide for survival, especially during the rough periods of our lives. I hope that all of you are capable of letting these go. Self-reflect, do some soul searching, and try to recognize why you react the way you do. Dig up that pain you had buried for so long. And work on developing healthy coping mechanisms. I hope those of you who take steps to developing healthy coping mechanisms have an amazing support system. Because it is not easy to do alone, nor should you have to feel that you don’t have support in making a positive change for your life. 30 is the year of self-love and care.

17. The Idea that Vulnerability is Weakness.

Being vulnerable and openly emotional is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is the exact opposite. It takes great amounts of strength to openly express yourself and wear your heart on your sleeve. The idea that this labels a person as weak and overemotional, really upsets me. Not many people have your courage. Not many people have your sympathy and empathy. We have been so desensitized by society that no one knows how to handle authentic feelings anymore. It has become entirely too uncomfortable for the majority of people. And that’s not okay. Don’t bury your feelings. I am here to tell you that some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life proudly expressed themselves and were unapologetic about it. It’s okay to soften that heart of yours and share it with others.

18. Comparison to Others.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I know it may seem at times that everyone else is progressing in their lives and are so blissfully happy, while you remain stagnant and miserable. But honestly, people advertise what they wish to advertise. You never know what demons a person may be fighting behind closed doors. And you want to hear the craziest part? They probably feel the exact way towards you. We’re all so delusional and preoccupied with what other people are doing with their lives. Stop worrying about how the grass appears greener on the other side and learn how to water your own grass to your standards. We are all on different paths. Each designed to our free will and purpose. No need for comparison.

19. Grudges.

Ok, so if I am being completely transparent, have not quite mastered letting go of grudges. But I am aware that letting go of grudges and forgiving others for how they may have wronged you, is purely for the healing of yourself. It is not for the other person. Perhaps this person has tried to apologize but you are so deeply hurt and can’t seem to shake the feeling. Let it go. Let go of the resentment and pain. Keeping it bottled inside of you will not do you any good. Meanwhile the person who wronged you will continue to move on with their lives. Or perhaps, you never received the apology you felt that you deserved. Let it go. Live your life and don’t allow past tragedies to weigh you down.

20. That Job that Makes You Miserable.

Oh, man! I am hella passionate about this one. Once upon a time, I was in a job that did not see value in me. Not as a person, let alone as an employee. And it sucked. Bad. It affected my mental health in more ways than I can list. Everyday I felt like I was walking on eggshells, desperate to keep low and out of sight to avoid ruffling any feathers. But no matter how much I tried to showcase that I was indeed a valued employee, it would backfire and make my work situation that much worse. After a few months, I began feeling inadequate and starting questioning my worth and skill sets. Around this time I decided, I had to make my exit. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! If you are in a similar situation, walk away. I know it is scary. I know you have bills to pay. I know you have a family to support. But if a job is taking such a great toll on you, how are you able to support your family without being in the right state of mind? No job is secure. We’re all dispensable at one point or another. So honestly, you’re not doing anyone any favors by staying in a job that makes you feel this way.

21. Fear of Being Alone.

Nothing is more satisfying than learning how to be content with your own company. Solitude can be one of the top forms of self-love. During your moments alone, you are able to experience introspection. Introspection truly allows you to get to know yourself and share the best version of yourself with others. Learn to find fulfillment and comfort within yourself and not place that responsibility on others.

22. Hating Your Body.

Do you realize how incredibly beautiful you are? Yes, you. Please don’t allow society to convince you otherwise. Those are not imperfections you are looking at. Those are stripes. Stripes and dimples of honor. Your body has carried your soul through life up to this point. And it keeps carrying on. It allows you to keep living. A vessel provided with the opportunity to truly seize life. Take care of your body. Feed it nurturing foods. Thank it for carrying you through life. Be gentle and remind yourself that your body is unique to you, beautiful in its own way. I grew up hating my body. Unfortunately, I was conditioned to think that my body was not only imperfect, it was undesirable. Until one day I realized how much beauty my body carries. Every curve. I hope you all find your own realizations about your body too.

23. Perfectionism.

Say it with me: No one is perfect. Ok, now that we got that out the way, let me provide more insight. Perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations. It will cause unnecessary anxiety. It will cause fears and doubts. Perfectionism will get in your way every time you attempt a new venture. It will prevent you from developing new connects and relationships. Why? Because you will be too preoccupied on how to do it the ‘right’ way rather than throwing yourself in the game. Grant yourself some grace.

24. Taking Things for Granted.

I’m sure most of you know that nothing lasts forever. But are you 100% aware of what this means? Every person, circumstance, situation, blessing, downfall is temporary. Make sure you are holding your loved ones just a little bit tighter and longer. Tell them repeatedly that you love them. Be thankful for the small things, as one day, they will appear as the big things. Express gratitude and let it overpour. Nothing is this life is guaranteed or promised. So while the going gets good, allow the gratitude to take center stage.

25. Control Issues.

For those who know me…don’t come for me! Lol. I am a work in progress, so no… have not quite accomplished this yet. But I am aware and acknowledging I could use improvement in this area and that’s a good first step…right?!! Life has proven to show me how unpredictable and messy it is capable of getting. And each time I am reminded how insane it drives me when I am unable to control a particular situation. So my advice to you would be let go of the reigns and let flow. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something that is out of your power.

26. Doubt.

People will only believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. Law of attraction. What you put out into the universe, it comes back ten-fold. So if you are putting out all of your doubts and insecurities, how could you possibly expect fruits for your labor? It starts with believing in yourself. It starts with putting yourself on a pedestal and becoming your own cheerleader. You are fully capable and worthy, so stop holding yourself back.

27. Lack of Skincare.

Honeeyyyy. When I tell you that beautiful skin will not last forever, please listen to me. 30 is a great age to start incorporating new techniques and products into your skin regime. And if you’re not sure what that looks like, allow me to coach you. Wash your face before bed, ALWAYS! Please don’t leave makeup on from the day and sleep with it through the night. It will cause your skin to age and no one wants premature wrinkles. Exfoliate at least 3 times a week. Get all of those dead skin cells out and allow your skin to feel rejuvenated. Toners are your best friend. I personally like to use witch-hazel because of how natural it is. Face masks are amazing and leave your skin silky smooth. And last, hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE. I like to use a tiny amount of rose hip oil and mix it with my moisturizer. Also, please use sunblock before you go outside or find a moisturizer that includes SPF. You’re welcome (you’ll thank me later).

28. Waiting for the Perfect Moment.

It does not exist. The end.

29. Following Society’s Ideas of How a Relationship Should Be.

What works for your relationship, will not work for others, and vice versa. I think the most perfect example I can think of is Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. They have been married for many decades and have found happy mediums and standards that works for them and their relationship. A lot of their views seem radical to some. But I do have to admit, they seem incredibly healthy and nurturing towards one another. Don’t allow others to meddle in your relationship. As long as the both of you are happy and committed in your relationship, that is all that matters. Tell everyone else to mind their business and kiss your ass!

30. That You Will Never Find Your True Love.

Love has no timelines. Some people are blessed to find their true loves early in life, as others find their true love as they reach their senior years. But both scenarios lead to happiness, so what’s the rush? This does not mean that you are not worthy of finding someone to love you the way you deserve. This does not mean you will never experience what it is like to be in love. And it definitely does not mean that your life won’t feel fulfilled until you find someone. What it does mean is that you have the advantage to truly cater and nurture yourself in the meantime. A preparation stage, if you will. I can almost guarantee that a love you find once you have learned to fully love yourself, is the most gratifying of all.

So, you see, turning 30 is not that bad…

It’s actually pretty exciting and from what I hear, some of the best years to come. Embrace it. Welcome the changes and seasons. Welcome the opportunities to learn and grow. Welcome the light at the end of the tunnel of truly accepting and loving yourself wholeheartedly. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day and if you have any feedback, would love to hear from you!

Check out more content on Instagram at ang_meets_soul ❤

Make Moves: When it’s Time to Escape a Toxic Relationship.

“We teach people how to treat us.” —

Dr. Phil

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, and Depression all wrapped in one like a toxic ass burrito. Order up!

You find yourself questioning your worth. The person you see in the mirror is unrecognizable. Every aspect of you is under a microscope, every detail scrutinized. You lie awake at night, staring at the ceiling, questioning what you can do to better this miserable situation. Can you actually do more than what you have already been doing? Honey. Here’s some better questions for you to ponder- Are you tired of crying? Are you tired of feeling less than worthy? Are you tired of feeling insecure, belittled, insignificant, and unappreciated? If these questions are feeling like the status quo, you’re in trouble. Feeling like you’ve not only exhausted all possible solutions, but that you have wasted so much time and energy on someone who cannot seem to grasp the weight of your value. Three words: LET IT GO.

I’ve been there. I spent damn near a decade in a situation that I should have walked away from a long time ago. I’ve been cheated on. I’ve been called ugly. I’ve been called fat. I’ve been called a bitch. Hell, I’ve been called an ugly, fat bitch. LOL. Not funny, but I can laugh at it now. You would think that there was no element of surprise in that last phrase but boy, did that shit pack a punch to my ego during that time in my life. This man was even ashamed to be seen with me in public. He never wanted to go out together to the club or parties. If it wasn’t something intimate or hidden, I was not allowed to tag along. And despite it all, I STILL stayed. I wasn’t perfect, but I loved hard and was willing to do what was necessary to make it work, including constant forgiveness. It took me 7 years to realize that not only did I not deserve to be in a toxic relationship such as this, but that I simply did not want to do it anymore. It’s crazy how one day you wake up and decide “no more.” It’s as if the fog is finally lifted and you can see the situation clearly for what it is. An epiphany, if you will. But some wounds never fully heal. The baggage is still heavy after half a decade has passed. The insecurities are still there. The first couple of years in my new relationship was a major adjustment. I was conditioned to be jealous, unable to trust, and unable to love unconditionally. Because God forbid, I went through this again. God forbid I allow someone to rob me of my dignity and have me look like a public fool. What did Beyoncé say? “What’s worse, looking jealous and crazy? Or like, being walked all over lately? I rather be crazy.” I hear these lyrics years after my previous relationship and still feel it in the moment I am singing my lungs out along with the song. I was so used to being involved in a toxic relationship that I didn’t even recognize what a healthy relationship should look like. My scars run deep. However, each passing day since I walked away from that relationship has been a step closer to healing. To learning new behaviors. To developing trust. To discovering the essence of pure, unconditional love. But I would have never been close to achieving this, or at least working towards this, mentally and spiritually, if I never walked away.

Need help deciding if it’s time to walk away? If you’re even questioning to walk away in the first place, I’d say it’s time. But…

Here are five signs that you are caught in a toxic relationship and need to run to the nearest exit and never return:

1. Lack of Trust.

Trust is everything. A relationship cannot flourish, or even continue on, without trust as a foundation. One of the biggest signs that there is no trust in a relationship is if you find yourself going through your partner’s phone. I’ve done it. I’m not proud of it. Overall, it’s a very lame thing to do (sorry ladies, I am on your side). And if you find yourself doing it, then there is definitely a lack of trust. I don’t care how much you try to sugarcoat your reasoning behind it.

2. Hostile Environment.

Granted, during arguments, voices can be raised and hurtful things may be said. However, if it takes less to nothing to upset your partner to the point of intense anger and hostility, this may be a warning sign. There should be no reason why you partner gets so angry to the point that he or she is disrespecting your space, your character, or even violating you physically in any way, shape, or form. A hostile environment is not only unhealthy, but it’s everything else but love. Not to mention, it is unacceptable for you to feel unsafe in your relationship.

3. Hella Disrespectful.

This is a given. In a relationship, whether it’s romantic or not, respect has to be at the top of the priority list. Calling you out of your name, belittling your opinions and character, putting you down in front of others, or even the slightest sign of disrespect towards your loved ones. If this sounds familiar in your relationship, why haven’t you created an escape plan yet? Disrespect should not be tolerated. Raise that bar for yourself.

4. Control Issues.

No person should be delegating what you should or should not do. Opinions are welcomed, but it should never negatively affect your relationship. I’ll never forget when I was dating this one guy and he actually got upset because I was hanging out with my friends that day. Not that we had plans!!! But I wasn’t sitting at home, talking on phone all day to him. And somehow, that completely pissed him off. Yeah. I’ve never made a quicker exit. Control is not only a sign of a mentally abusive partner, but it opens a gateway of which toxic traits become acceptable.

5. Mind Games and Manipulation.

Oh, the manipulation. It’s a quality, or lack of I should say, that I despise the most. Because this person actually believes that they can pull the wool over your eyes and insult your intelligence. And sometimes, it can actually work! Trying to influence your opinion negatively to justify their own, disregarding your feelings, twisting words you say to defend their own argument, or simply acting like they are clueless as to why you are feeling a particular way despite your many efforts to explain this, are all signs of manipulation. The moment you begin questioning yourself and find yourself overcompensating to keep the peace or changing your views to please the other party, then you are caught up in the game. The question is are you going to remain in this web of manipulation or will you decided game over?

If you continue to accept the toxicity…

I understand it may be difficult to walk away from any relationship. You may love this person, despite how harmful they are. You may feel comfortable and the thought of starting over completely rattles your core. Or maybe, you actually believe that you are not worthy of a better relationship. I get it. For a very long time, I actually believed that no one else would want me. I would think to myself “I’m not pretty enough” or “I’m not skinny enough” or “I’m not interesting enough.” I believed the lies that were fed to me, especially regarding the content of my character, as well as my physical attributes. I can understand how scary it must feel to walk away. But let me tell you what happens if you don’t. You run the risk of completely losing yourself. Your mental health can decline. Your confidence will decline. Even your perception of your own value will decline. And all of these emotions will eat at your soul to the point beyond repair. So which sounds scarier? Losing a person you love, but are not happy with? Or losing yourself and your happiness all together?

You are worthy.

In case, you don’t realize it. In case, no one has told you. In case, you have a hard time believing it. YOU ARE WORTHY. You are worthy of happiness and unconditional love. You are worthy of finding a person who adores you beyond comprehension, even when you’re displayed in the most unfavorable light. You are worthy of being in a relationship that practices trust, understanding, and compassion. You are worthy of feeling safe, not only with your body, but with your mind and heart. And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise, is not worthy of being in your life. Because relationships, whether romantic or platonic, should feel uplifting. Maybe not 100% of the time because we are all human and capable of making mistakes, but 80% of the time should be the norm. The good should outweigh the bad. Don’t allow another person to drag you down. Don’t allow another person to destroy your self worth. No person should hold this power. So if you have any inclination that you are involved in a toxic relationship, love yourself more. Walk away. No regrets. Look ahead and search for what your soul craves and needs. Temporary heartache to a journey of everlasting bliss.

Stay strong, friends. Xoxo.