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/!

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.

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

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

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.

An Ode to Self-Love.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” —Brené Brown

Where do I begin?

It feels unfamiliarly odd to be writing right now. My ‘mini-break’ turned out to be much longer than intended. A lot of soul searching. A lot of questions. A lot of doubts. And a whole lot of tears. More tears than I ever wanted to experience. And although it felt painful; many sleepless nights filled with overwhelming anxiety, it felt unbelievably necessary. Detoxing is never easy. And I don’t mean clean diets to flush out your digestive system. I mean truly detoxing what needs to be removed from your life all together. Detoxing bad habits, toxic ways of thinking. Detoxing and separating yourself from people who do not have your best interest. IT’S NEVER EASY. I haven’t written in two months because honestly, I was not in a good place emotionally. The holidays were a painful reminder of what could be, rather than what was. I had high hopes for the New Year. A fresh start, a new slate. Instead what I got was a harsh realization that nothing heals overnight. Seems like everyday I struggled with accomplishing simple tasks, such as laundry and cooking. Sleeping became impossible. Weeks and weeks spent being sleep deprived and feeling defeated. I like to think of myself as an over achiever. Not being able to write, focus on work, plan a wedding, or even do simple household tasks had me feeling like the ultimate failure. Nothing brings you down like self-pity. It festers inside of you until it erupts like a volcano. Then before you know it, everyone is looking at you like a hot head and trying to dodge your self-pitied lava that seems to burn everything in sight, including yourself. And you really want to know what’s almost unbearable? Truly looking at yourself and realizing in some way, shape, or form, you have contributed to your own unhappiness. This is what I have been up to in my absence.

Self-love does not always look like bubble baths and candles. Sometimes self-love requires you to sit in your own darkness and push yourself to find the light. Here comes the transparency: I’m not there yet. But I am taking great strides in reaching that light. My form of self-love was disconnecting and spending time in solitude. I uninstalled all my social media apps from my phone. I suffer from FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. I would scroll and scroll and compare myself to other people in their pictures. They all looked so…happy. And I would think to myself, “What do I have to do to feel what they are feeling?” Cue even more self-pity. I have this incredible knack of putting myself down. Sometimes I find myself wondering why certain people are not accepting of me, or why I constantly feel like an outsider. I can be in a room full of people and still feel utterly alone. It really is a curse. During the month of January, I barely talked to anyone or even went outside to events or hangouts with friends. Everything felt too hard, too overwhelming. I would look at myself in the mirror and think, “wow, you really look how you feel- miserable.” I began questioning my self-worth and competence in almost every area of my life. What’s even worse, I started questioning those around me. And because of this, I isolated myself because I was convinced that no one would want to be around me like this. I finally decided it was time to go to the doctor. Not only because the lack of sleep was affecting my mental health but because it was affecting my physical health as well. I had a hard time concentrating. I would struggle with migraines daily. I began having neck and back pain. There were even a couple of times when I would get so lightheaded that my vision would fade. I went to the doctor and although I haven’t received a definitive answer as to why I cannot sleep besides the obvious reason of struggling with my anxiety, one thing was confirmed by the doctor- I am moderately depressed. He prescribed me medication, which normally I am against, but it was time to throw the white flag and accept that I need help and no longer have control. Self-love is recognizing you need help and cannot do it all on your own. I still need to get blood work done and I am looking into therapy, but for now, I seem to be sleeping better these days. I have been diving into reading more. A book a month is my overall goal. The clarity about disconnecting from social media is the realization that you have this abundance of time to do other hobbies and really connect with yourself. So that’s exactly what my focus has been on. My form of self-love is realizing that I am not okay and that’s okay. It’s okay to put certain things on hold in your life to make sure you are catering to your own well-being. It’s perfectly okay to take some time apart from your normal activities. If you don’t show up for yourself, how can you expect yourself to show up for others. Self-love is recognizing that you can no longer neglect yourself.

I turned 30 on January 30, 2020. A new decade of life. My 20s were filled with lessons. I am sure my 30s will be no different. The only difference is the realization that I have the power to truly love myself and be unapologetic about my flaws. I am imperfectly perfect. I am a 30-year-old who suffers from anxiety and depression but that does not make me a victim. It’s only an acknowledgement for the purpose of continuing my journey of healing. I am intelligent. I am beautiful. I am strong. My capacity to feel does not make me weak. It does not hinder me. I will always honor the compassion within me. It’s what makes me, me. No one can do me like me. That is what separates me from the next person. Our qualities are what separates us from others and makes us so special. But in the same respect, self-love is acknowledging the areas of yourself that could use improvement. I told myself I would return to social media on my birthday. I had it all planned. A fire selfie with a caption filled with nothing but positivity. Reposts of my birthday shout outs. It was all so…ridiculous. Like why? Why did any of this matter?! It didn’t. Ego is a scary and powerful quality within us all. It will have you feeling so entitled and will make anything seem overly important, even if it isn’t. What was even worse is that for a moment, I thought the validation of others would make me happy. Why did I need this kind of validation to feel loved? How can genuine love come from a social media app? I should have the ability to feel loved and valued regardless. Furthermore, I should not feel the need to post to show others that I am having such a great time on my birthday. I really had to put myself in check that day. In the end of my whole thought process, I decided to enjoy my birthday to the fullest. To be present in the moment and express gratitude for another year of life. And that’s exactly what I did. I took myself to the spa and got a deep tissue massage and facial. I met up with one of my best friends and we had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. I celebrated life with my other best friend and met her new baby, who was born just 5 days prior. And then I went home and packed for a weekend at the Smoky Mountains. Me and five other friends had a blast in Tennessee. I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome a new decade. I am excited for what the years will bring. Like fine wine, I only get better. I vow to accept change, to accept love, to accept the obstacles, to accept whatever life throws at me. I will work at accepting it all. But most importantly, I vow to accept myself wholeheartedly, with all of my flaws and imperfections. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the true essence of self-love. It takes constant work and effort. You will fall and rise and then fall again. You will have to brush the dirt off your own shoulders. At times, you will have to be your biggest cheerleader and your own support system. But if you always do your best, you cannot fail. I’m excited to be back into the flow of writing. Only time will tell what will happen from here. The poem below was written by me a few months ago, but never published. The irony is that I resonate with it so much more now than I did then. Sending everyone so much love and pocketing some for myself.

An Open Letter.

Hey Ang,

How have you been? I heard you was uneasy and that you needed a friend.

I heard you haven’t been sleeping. I heard you just stay up. Worrying about everything you cannot solve because nothing is ever enough.

I heard you cry when no one is looking because others ignore your pain. So, you stand there with a smile hoping the pain will fade.

I heard you show up for others and often forget yourself. Because being labeled ‘selfish’ is not what you want to be about.

I heard you fear judgement because this world can be so cold. You have abandonment issues that won’t go away, no matter how old.

I heard you have resentment issues. Issues resent you back. I heard the biggest resentment issues you struggle with, stay tied to your back.

But hey, who am I to judge? I’m only a reflection of what you can be if you learn how to just love yourself.

I can show you. I can offer my help. But you are going to have to stop acting like you have everything under control.

Sit down and listen- this is what you do. Get up every morning and remember to always do you.

Remember how far you have come. Give yourself a break. Grant yourself some grace and let all the doubts escape.

You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are loved. Your value is not based on anyone’s opinions because you always rise above.

You are resilient and brilliant. You have gone through so much. Do yourself a favor and start showing yourself some love.

And if you ever need a reminder, I’m always here for you, love. I’ll always be your biggest supporter to boost you all the way up.

One day you won’t have to look for me in the mirror. One day that self-love won’t feel like an impossible thing to do. And in that moment, you’ll remember the rose that bloomed from the concrete. The rose that became you. 

Love always,

Your Reflection

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Approaching 30…send help.

“you have outgrown this skin. stop trying to hold it in. stop trying to hold it together. let yourself break.”  ― AVA., you are safe here.

When I was younger, I was positive that I would have it all figured out by the time I hit 30. I was going to be married, with kids, have my own home, take family vacations at least once a year, and thrive in a career I absolutely loved. As I am currently in the last 5 months of my 29th year, I laugh hysterically at the idea. And then I cry. And then I get annoyed with myself for being so damn emotional. You think you have a certain plan for yourself and you believe you can execute that plan flawlessly. In that moment, you become so comfortable with your life. Plot twist: life senses the complacency and laughs in your face while throwing a slew of obstacles and curve balls. And in this moment, you have a decision to make…do you sink or swim? I’m a magician- I’ve done both this year. Everyday feels like a struggle to swim to the surface, gasping for air…reaching for land. At 29 years old, nothing makes sense. And at some point, I’ve stop looking for explanations. I just…live.

My 28th year was AMAZING. It was a happy time in my life filled with travel, brunch/dinner dates, new friends, new higher paying job, and a WHOLE engagement. I thought “Wow, can it get any better?” I thought for sure the next year would be even greater with all of the blessings that had been bestowed upon me. New Year’s came along… and I don’t know, I didn’t feel excited. There was a sense of dread and urgency in it. In hindsight, maybe it was my intuition mentally preparing me for what was to come.

My 29th birthday in January was the first one I couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, and I’ll admit this bummed me out to a certain degree. But I also had some pretty amazing friends who threw me a surprise party. I quickly realized how spoiled I was and to stop being ungrateful. Trust me, I put myself in check, A LOT. I’m human… Shortly after my birthday, in February, I found out I was pregnant and no, it was not planned. The thought of carrying a child scared the shit out of me. I was in the midst of planning a wedding. I had more travel plans. Financially, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I had to change my whole lifestyle and I don’t think I was ready. After a few days of initial shock, I accepted it. I told very few people because of obvious reasons- it’s usually best to save announcements after the first trimester since it’s high risk. I prepared for this life change and even got in contact with a realtor to look into buying a house. I wanted my baby to have an environment that he or she could thrive in and have a happy childhood. In March, I went to my first sonogram and found out the baby was abnormal and I would miscarry soon unless I have surgery to physically remove it. And so I did…and then I barricaded myself in the house for weeks. Ashamed, grieving, and self loathing. I still blame myself. There’s not much anyone can say to make me feel better about the situation and NOT blame myself. It’s a harsh realization I’ve come to- I simply need time. I never did follow through with the home buying process. (For anyone who wants to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/04/24/my-heart-stopped-the-moment-i-found-out-yours-did/).

Upon my return to work in late March, I’ve noticed a change in my boss’s behavior. Quite frankly, she has made my life at work a living HELL for the past 4 months. Still holding strong until a better opportunity comes along, but it does mentally take a toll on me. We spend so much of our time at work, you know? And constant negativity, day in and day out, is just draining. This situation has caused my anxiety to get worse. Some nights I can’t sleep just because of the dread for the upcoming work day. Sunday nights are the worst. I take it all as it comes because honestly, I have no other choice. Each day completed is a personal victory. (For anyone who would like to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/05/29/lost-com/).

In June, a friend of 7 years, decided that we were not friends anymore. There was no real reason behind it. She claimed she felt like this for a while and that we were just going ‘in two separate directions.’ That was heartbreaking. Extremely unexpected. I never saw it coming and in some way, I felt betrayed. She decided upon herself, that OUR friendship was over and didn’t even bother giving it an opportunity to work itself out. With everything I have gone up until this point, my response to her was “I see.” I was stunned. I didn’t have the energy to address it or ask for an explanation. I accepted it and let go.

This year has felt incredibly lonely. People have faded out of my life, friends and family. It feels like I’ve lost a great deal. During this process of healing, I have isolated myself. I have cried more days than I can keep track of. I’ve been angry and confused. I have not been very lovable, and some days I’m not even tolerable. It’s difficult to sit in your pain and accept that there is not much you can do to relieve it. I mean, I try. I eat healthier. I exercise. Meditate. Journal. Paint. Bubble baths with bath salts, heavy on the essential oils. Spend time outside. Hell, I even started a blog in April; a canvas to pour my feelings into. I try it allllll 😀 A lot of the time, especially as of late, I shut off my emotions, merely for survival. Because it’s easier to bury the pain. But when it comes up…man, it’s heart-wrenching and it knocks the wind out of me. In those moments, I just sit with it. Wait it out like it’s a passing storm with its roaring thunder and lightning that illuminates the night sky. Not all days are bad. Some days I am vibrating so high that it seems like I’m glowing; I physically see it. When those days come around, I cherish it. It’s a nice reminder that eventually I will be okay. I might even be…happy lol like on the regular?? What a thought! Until then, I am patient. Patient with the process. Patient with myself. I’ve learned to find the beauty in each day, no matter how minuscule it may be. And as I am writing this, the song ‘Beauty Hurts’ by Jack Be pops up on Spotify. Ironic. I’m back to my travel plans kicking off with Hawaii next month. Super looking forward to that! I’m back to planning the wedding; the venue is booked 🙂 details will come soon. I’ll be looking into therapy; I think it’s safe to say I need it. I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone by being openly vulnerable and being unapologetic about it! Throughout the year, I have felt like I was being punished by the universe. My faith with God has wavered. All of this time I have looked at this year as a conspiracy. A ploy to guarantee my own failure. Realistically, it’s the opposite. I’ve been stripped down to my very core, have shed many layers. It’s a new start. A caterpillar transitioning to a butterfly. As my 29th year begins to approach an end, I’m in awe of myself and my resiliency. I don’t give myself enough credit. I look forward to a new chapter and I welcome a new decade with open arms. If you currently feel like you’re failing at life, or nothing seems to be in your favor, just hold tight. It just might be a blessing in disguise. I’m patiently waiting for mine. And when that day comes, when it all finally makes sense, I’ll be sure to share. Stay easy, friends.

Lost.com

“Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.” — Herb Brooks

You ever have a set path in your mind? Something you thought you were so sure of, that there were no doubts in your mind of what your future would be like, or even where you will be in 5 years? I was that person and Human Resources was that path. I’ve always played by the rules, stuck to the rule book. Of course I stumbled along the way, but I still did everything I was supposed to do. I graduated from high school. I went to college, then graduated from there. I landed a corporate job that offered great pay and benefits. I followed the path…and yet, I find myself more lost than ever. I’m ashamed to say, I’m even feeling dissatisfied. As I approach my 30th trip around the sun, I have NO idea what I want to do with my life. All I do know is the path that I am on now, is not for me anymore. It’s a terrifying thought. Almost 30 years old with mostly experience in solely HR, and I don’t want this career anymore. Or maybe it is just my current job that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s hard to pinpoint.

10 months ago, I landed an amazing job. It offered growth, great pay, and most importantly, great benefits. Coming from a smaller company where I had to make a conscious decision not to get health insurance because it would cost me half of my paycheck, this opportunity felt like a blessing. And to some extent, it has been. I am grateful for that. It was everything I wanted and worked hard for…or so I thought. If you would have told me 10 months ago that I would end up so miserable, I probably would have reconsidered taking the job. So before I dive deep into the negatives, I would like to focus on the positives first. Let’s see…I got a big increase in pay (amen). I got affordable health insurance, which let’s be honest, was super needed this year. My knowledge in HR has grown at an accelerated rate. This position has taught me to be more confident and independent in decision making. And lastly, my skin has grown much thicker (it’s a cold world in Corporate America).

When I first started this job, I was super excited. It felt very uncomfortable but I was excited about the opportunity of growth in all aspects. It seemed like a casual work environment. Everyone seemed nice. My manager and director seemed thrilled to have me join the team. My manager, who would be leaving on maternity leave, had only 2 weeks to train me. I would take over her workload while she was out. I’ll admit, this made me very uneasy. I mean, 2 weeks is not a long time AT ALL to learn the ins and outs of a company, especially in Human Resources. Also, I took a chance by accepting this position because it was temp to hire. This puts a ridiculous amount of pressure for you to succeed because at any given point, you are dispensable. But in hindsight, that’s with any job, whether it’s permanent or temporary. Despite all of this, I stepped up to the plate and pushed myself to remain optimistic. My manager left on maternity leave in September. By October, I was drowning in work and stress. I began suffering from intense anxiety and was not sleeping, like at all. It became so extreme that I was even admitted to the hospital for sleep deprivation. Determining it was anxiety, I was placed on anti-anxiety medication and referred to a therapist…which I never went to because at the time I did not have insurance. The pressure to excel was overwhelming and it continued to affect my health. By December, I suffered a flu once and gotten a cold twice, all in a 2 month span lol. Not funny, but like come on, my luck was impeccable during those times. I really can’t help but laugh about it now. In December, I became permanent and it felt as if I ran and won a triathlon (I know, I’m dramatic. Consider it a part of my charm). After all, I finally had a secure job with actual benefits!

My manager returned from maternity leave in January and the director seemed ecstatic to have her back. Shit, I was too! Honestly, I was winging it along the way and was relieved to have extra help. Shortly after my manager returned, I noticed a change in attitude between her and the director. I was included in less meetings and updates. I was taken away certain responsibilities, which is normal to a certain extent because duties had to be split, but it was an alarming amount! I was micromanaged, something that was NEVER an issue before. They started to alienate me and I couldn’t understand why. Communication became strained. I was told one thing from my manager, and told to do another by my director. This all leaving me unsure as to what I should do regarding my duties. I started being blamed for errors that were caused by miscommunication. It became a “them vs. me” situation. Constantly walking on eggshells, anticipating the next warning I would be given for something I unintentionally did incorrect. In March, after my miscarriage situation, the treatment became worse. They were annoyed that I missed 2 weeks of work, which in my defense, I never miscarried naturally. I had to have surgery which required recovery time. Upon my return, they turned up the heat. Gave me more projects with impossible deadlines. Every other day, I’m approached with an issue about the quality of my work. When I do complete a project that is valuable and on time, I do not get any credit. If anything, they don’t even respond stating that it’s been received. Meanwhile, my manager gets a response and a pat on the back for every single thing, even something as small as filing. It feels as if I am constantly set up for failure, and with my experience in HR, I would not be surprised if they are trying to push me out the door. I have seen it happen many times. Yesterday, I was mentally preparing myself to get terminated. I injured myself last Thursday and had to take the next two days off due to a pinched nerve in my lower back that prevented me from moving around or walking. They claimed I made a few errors on the most recent project I submitted and told me that it would need to be discussed on the upcoming Tuesday. All Memorial Day weekend, I was anxious and afraid I would no longer have a job once I returned. Well, turns out there were no errors made on my part and I had proof. I presented this to them and all they could say is that we can discuss later in the week. I wasn’t given an apology. They didn’t address it after that. There goes my idea of a secure job. Harsh lesson learned; nothing is ever guaranteed.

So yeah, there goes the raw honest truth of what is going on in my life career wise. I did not write this for pity or reassurance. I know I will be fine. Eventually, I will find another job and this will be a nightmare of the past. But this experience has really caused me to look internally and ask myself, “what do I want out of life?” Human Resources is all I know, but I feel I am at a crossroad. I am torn because I want to stay true to what I want and deserve, but I also have to be responsible enough to make a rational and logical choice. All of these experiences I have encountered this year alone has really boggled my perspective. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable, yet awakened at the same time. It’s a very uneasy process, but I have to trust it. I have to trust that everything that is taking place in my life is pushing me closer and closer to my purpose. If anyone else can relate to this, just know that it is going to be okay. Nothing makes sense and that’s okay. Know that if it’s never to late to start over, or change your mind. Also know that it is perfectly okay to be scared, or unready to make a choice just yet. There are no rules. There is no time limit. It is all divine timing and what’s meant to be, will be. As I’m writing you this, I am also reminding myself. We got this. Eventually, we will find our way.