• Speaking My Mind

    Top 10 Holiday Favorites 2018!

    This is a list of my favorite items from Christmas. Not all of them are gifts, but most of them are. The gifts I received this year were particularly thoughtful and I love them.

    1. The toasted tartelette eyeshadow palette by tarte

    I used to rock all sorts of colorful eyeshadow looks, some of which you can find on my website by searching “Lookbook.” After my cousin passed away, however, I veered away from eyeshadow in favor of just eyeliner because I was depressed and I also didn’t want to spend the time doing my makeup anymore.

    When I went to Ulta with my mom for the annual holiday sale, I picked up this sophisticated palette because I wanted to explore my makeup creativity again. This palette has more sophisticated shades than my older ones, making this palette more versatile for all occasions. I’ve greatly enjoyed creating dramatic looks and neutral looks with these warm shades!

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    2. Yoga Bolster

    I asked my mom for a bolster for yoga for Christmas, and she delivered! She got it at Walmart so I assume that the price was reasonable, although I know they have reasonable ones on Amazon too. I love having a bolster for my home practice. It totally elevates my yoga experience. Plus, it matches my yoga mat so nicely!

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    3. Gluten-Free Holiday Doughnuts

    My parents met someone that owns a gluten-free bakery, and they only make doughnuts on the weekend. My dad got twelve of them because they looked so pretty! They were tasty too, but I barely ate one because they’re very sweet and I try not to consume sugar.

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    4. BBC Radio Production of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

    My favorite type of podcasts are ones that are basically old-school radio shows: there are actors, sound effects, and lots of suspense/drama.

    I wanted to read some Agatha Christie novels and when I saw that there are radio adaptations of her books available through my local library, I was so excited! This was incredibly entertaining to listen to, and I want to listen to the others!

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    5. Lush’s Mask of Magnaminty

    This is an old favorite that I reintroduced to my daily routine. I mean, I don’t use it daily, but I use it several times a week (which may still be overkill). When I used it in college, I was always complimented on the pepperminty smell of it. It’s such a nice treat to start my morning with it because it’s invigorating and leaves my skin feeling luscious. They did increase the price a bit since I last bought it about three years ago, but I think it’s still worth it.

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    6. Lands’ End Holiday Slippers

    My mom got me these for Christmas, aren’t they fun? Slippers are so useful and cozy, and I love the holiday cow on this pair!

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    7. Prep Naturals Mandoline Slicer

    My dad surprised me this year by getting me this super thoughtful gift because he knows I like to cook and that I spend an exorbitant amount of time cutting produce. (In the past, he’s gotten me useful, albeit not for everyday-use items, such as a flashlight for your head). I love this gadget so far, but it can’t be used for all vegetables. For example, I tried cutting a pepper with it, but the pepper was too soft.

    For veggies such as cucumbers, carrots, celery, and probably onions too, this is great! You can adjust how thick you want your produce sliced and it comes with a safety shield and glove! It also came with a spiralizer, which I’m dying to try.

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    8. Tea Strainer

    I found this individual tea strainer on Amazon, and my lovely girlfriend got it for me for Christmas! It’s wonderful because it comes with a small dish to set the strainer in when you don’t need it anymore. There is also a nice long chain with a hook that you can use to hold the tea strainer in place.

    My tea tastes so much better now that I’m not cooking it in the pot of hot water.

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    9. Immersion Blender

    For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the box or of the item, so here is a picture of a sacral chakra soup I made with it! My girlfriend got me this too for Christmas. The blender has several speed settings and it also included a whisk that you can attach to the blender, it’s super nice! I’m eager to make other soups with this blender!

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    10. Puzzle

    My sister got me this puzzle for Christmas because she saw a puzzle I had completed with my girlfriend so she assumed I enjoyed puzzles. I do enjoy puzzles, but I have never completed one of this magnitude before!

    It’s fun to do the puzzle together though. We stay up late working on it and we listen to old classics like the Cheetah Girls and One Direction. It’s been a nice bonding activity. Hopefully, we will complete it before she returns to school!

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    What have been your favorites from the holidays?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Time to Try

    For the first time in four years, I had an anxiety attack.

    It completely caught me off-guard, despite the fact that I had been nervously calling my girlfriend, my sister, and my mom on the phone for an hour before it had happened. Also despite the fact that I’ve been practicing some negative daily habits for weeks as a result of a Vata-imbalance.

    For me, that entails following my whims: I fall asleep whenever I want to (AKA never a reasonable hour), I sleep in late, I create ideas but I don’t bring them into reality, I stress-eat, I distract myself with interminable episodes New Girl (which is a great show), and I lack a routine for diet or otherwise.

    Anyway, right before the anxiety attack, I was driving during one of the phone calls with my girlfriend, and my answers to her questions quickly became hysterical to the point where I couldn’t breathe and I had to pull over. It was horrible.

    The last time this happened to me, I was preparing for midterms as a first semester, first-year student at a large University. I was also recuperating from an awful breakup, I was homesick, and I was just…learning how to flourish when everything was incredibly new and overwhelming.

    I was afraid of failing my classes, nervous that I wouldn’t be able to make friends, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to succeed in college.

    While my circumstances are completely different now– I’m a graduate of that University, I overcame homesickness, and I have an amazing relationship that is so much better than I could have imagined– I am now learning how to flourish as an adult. It’s incredibly new to me and it’s overwhelming.

    I published a post recently about my fears, but they’re rather surface-level. My more deep-seated fears include being afraid of making a “wrong” decision, nervous to embark on something “too risky,” and worried that I can’t succeed in the real world.

    All of these fears have ultimately culminated in the stunting of my growth. My fears have become my reality because I haven’t been challenging them…instead, I’ve been holding myself back to prevent myself from my perception of disaster. Then I’ve been blaming everyone else for holding me back.

    After my anxiety attack, my sister pointed out that I have a difficult time making a decision because I have all these “ideas” but I hardly execute them. She also informed me that I doubt and second-guess myself consistently. How can I expect to move forward if my energy is so self-destructive?

    Prior to the post about my fears, I wrote about manifesting and persistence. While they are extremely vital methods toward success, they are insufficient if the way I treat myself is negative. So, more importantly, how can I channel positive, confident, loving energy toward myself to raise my vibration and ultimately attract other high-vibe opportunities that would enable me to achieve my goals?

    Well, this anxiety attack was a wake-up call that I’m not okay with holding myself back any longer. Now is the time to break this cycle and challenge my fears. Now is the time to take risks that may not always be successful, but that’s part of learning! Now is the time to try.

    xx Vic

  • beauty and fashion

    8 Fall Festive Outfits of the Day #OOTD

    Autumn is my favorite season, thus my wardrobe has been very autumn-esque since August! I always take poor quality photos of my outfits, but I haven’t shared any of them on my blog since 2014!! So today, before the holiday season takes over, I thought it’d be fun to share some of my favorites this season. One day I will take photos with better quality and with better lighting, but in the meantime, bear with me.

    Hocus Pocus Forever

    My girlfriend kindly surprised me with this Binx bag from Disney’s recent Hocus Pocus collection. I’m obsessed with this bag and I’ve been using it nonstop. It’s the perfect mix of eccentric and practical.

    The shirt is also from Disney’s Hocus Pocus collection! The front says: Don’t light the black flame candle, and the back is pictured below.

    My sister has glow-in-the-dark shirt Disney Halloween shirt. Disney had some awesome gear this year!

    Plaid Party!

    The outfit above features my pastel pumpkin-colored pants from Hollister! I purchased these about three years ago when my sister was working at Hollister and I was working at Abercrombie. I matched my pants with an orange stone necklace my late grandmother had given me. Peep my green Halloween socks with witches!

    The second plaid outfit above is newer. I purchased the pants from Target’s latest collection. They are comfy yet kind of stiff and loose…basically, the quality isn’t amazing but they will do for now. They look very cute though!

    My shirt is from Abercrombie from about a year ago. My bag is Binx obviously, but in this photo, you can see my witch hand sanitizer case more clearly! That hand sanitizer case was part of a set from Bath and Body Works, the other one being a vampire, which my sister has. They have magnets inside so they connect when they’re next to each other, it’s very cute. Also, I’m holding my Buffy comic book because Buffy is the best thing ever.

    Working Girl

    These next few outfits aren’t all super fall-esque, but they’re very cute!

    This was my first day of work outfit! It features old pants that need to be donated and my mom’s old shirt and sweater. The necklace is a jasper and turquoise necklace, which matches the details on my shirt.

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    My mom got me the pants above recently for work! They’re from Kohl’s and they’re quite funky since they’re a black and white checkered pattern and ankle-length. They’re stretchy, comfy, and high-waisted, and I felt fabulous in this look! The shirt is also from Kohl’s but it’s about four years old now.

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    The sweater above is my mom’s old sweater, and I really love it. The style is fun and perfect for fall. I wore it with my light grey jeans, which remind me of scarecrows because they’re frayed at the ankles, from TJ Maxx.

    This look is one of my favorites! I bought the earrings from the yoga studio I attended in the summer. They’re blue on the outside and orange in the center. I matched the earrings with the pendant that my step-grandma’s mom had, and this orange shirt my mom got me from the clearance section at Old Navy!

    The sweater is my mom’s and the pants are the same grey ones from TJ Maxx.

    Halloween!

    My Halloween look this year included my witch sweater from TJ Maxx and my Buffy cosplay coat from Hot Topic’s Buffy 20-year Anniversary collection last year! It has beautiful details that only Buffy fans would understand. I also wore Halloween bat earrings from Betsy Johnson, but I didn’t snap a pic of them.

    Those are all my fall-festive outfits! Did you like this series? Should I bring it back?

    Let me know in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    13 Days

    Finally, a moment to sit and write.

    This past week has been hectic because of my temporary full-time job, so I apologize for my absence. Whenever I return home from work, I want to numb my mind by watching TV, but I’ve been too tired to even do that.

    Anyway…I wanted to chat about my personal life because it has undergone a serious transformation. Namely, my relationship with my family has changed. This has been an ongoing transformation since I moved back home, I just hadn’t thought about writing about it because…I’ve had so many other things I wanted to say I suppose. Plus, sometimes I focus on negative things when I write rather than positive things, and what I want to talk about is extremely positive. It’s still a little surreal to me because I would have never thought, four years ago, that I’d be where I am now.

    One of the first great things that have been going on with me is that I haven’t been fighting with my mom at all. Both she and I have grown so much and we handle our volatile emotions so much better. We both utilize different methods to control our emotions such as a spiritual practice, writing, and Yoga. My mom and I actually share Yoga together now because she attends the class I teach on Friday mornings. It’s a really nice way to spend a little time together because, during the week, both her and I work a lot, so we don’t get to talk much. Yoga on Friday mornings is a beautiful way to check in with each other as well as start our day on the right foot. It’s really sweet we practice together too because she was the first one to suggest I do yoga teacher training, and here I am, now certified and teaching a class that she can attend. It’s so lovely.

    My girlfriend has been coming by the house weekly since September or so, which has been great. Aside from being able to see my girlfriend, my parents are able to see her and get to know her, which is helpful to make them feel more comfortable with my sexuality. My mom really likes her (she told me!) and we all chitchat and drink wine together. It’s so much fun! I never thought that’d happen!

    My aunt invited my girlfriend to Thanksgiving, so my girlfriend is coming. My aunt most likely knows my girlfriend is my girlfriend due to my social media, but the rest of my family probably doesn’t. My girlfriend will be introduced as my friend just to avoid drama at my aunt’s house. My relatives that know me will know though, which is all that matters to me.

    I’ll have to update y’all after Thanksgiving to share how it all went down. In the meantime, I will be trying to enjoy any bits of Halloween that I can! I haven’t watched any Halloween movies yet, which is tragic because there are only 13 days left. I probably will be watching Halloween movies until after Thanksgiving.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Pumpkin Spice, Everything (Will Be) Nice

    These last few days have been emotionally tumultuous for me, so I’ve been recharging in Starbucks sipping on iced pumpkin spiced lattes. They’re a delicious treat and I feel a bit better after consuming them. It’s also nice to be out of my house considering I did not leave my house at all in the last two days…which is probably not healthy but I don’t really have anywhere to go these days. Not leaving my house is definitely one of the many reasons I feel emotionally out of balance as a Vata person.

    In Ayuverda, which is the sister science to Yoga, I am predominantly a Vata person. I can explain this more in a different post, or you can look it up…but to explain briefly: Ayuverda is a method of characterizing everything in the universe, and there are three Doshas that can be used to describe it all in a very detailed manner. Everything has all three Doshas, but sometimes one is more prominent. Vata is only one of the Doshas, and in regards to how this Dosha appears in people, it includes being tall and slim, physically cold, creative, and idealistic. Some of the things that imbalance a Vata person are a lack of schedule, stress, and instability. I have been experiencing all three.

    While I have stability in the sense that I have a roof over my head, clean water, and food, everything else in my life feels unstable. It’s the dance that all twenty-somethings that graduate from college have to do, and I feel like if someone were to rate my performance thus far, it’d be a lackluster rating.

    The lack of a schedule, while everyone else is busy with school and/or work, is really getting to me now that my sister went back to school. For the first time since I was born, I’m living at home with only my parents around. It’s kind of weird honestly…so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room.

    There have been perks with that though because I’ve finally been making progress with my room. My mom bought me some new furniture to store items in and my room feels so much more peaceful. I have to tidy up my floor now and then do some more minor organizing, but I plan to get the biggest stuff finished this week. I will share pictures soon.

    Aside from cleaning my room, I’ve also been reading daily before I go to sleep instead of wasting time on social media. I have finished three books I had half-read: The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I plan to finish Don Quixote next, although it may take more time considering how large the book is.

    The only tasks on my schedule lately are job interviews, which is super stressful. All of my interviews have been phone interviews so I don’t have to go anywhere and I also haven’t been getting dressed for the day because I spend so much of my time at home. My interviews seem to be going well for the most part. I did have a terrible interview experience though…perhaps I’ll talk more about that in a different post.

    I know I have said this before, but maybe it really is time to look for part-time work? At this point, based off of my interviews, I won’t be working until October 1st at the earliest, but that’s assuming I get second-interviews and then a job offer before then. If that doesn’t happen, I may end up not working until December, January, or even later. Ideally, I’d like my part-time work to be yoga related…but considering how volatile my self-esteem is these days, it’s so hard to put myself out there face-to-face with someone. My girlfriend recommended I put teaching yoga on the back-burner for now because when the time is right for me to teach, I will be able to teach. I do have a yoga audition today though…but yeah maybe I’ll hold off on it for a while.

    It feels like I’m just “holding off” on everything. I’m postponing taking the GRE, applying to grad schools, and thus, attending grad school. I am also postponing getting a yoga job and it seems like the universe has decided for me that I am postponing working full-time for at least another month.

    People don’t talk truthfully enough about the frustration, depression, and self-doubt that comes with graduating from college and then trying to get a job. I feel like people only talk about those feelings in hindsight once they get a job, so their perspective on the situation is different at that point. They see their challenges through rose-colored glasses because they had overcome the job-hunting challenge.

    Well let me be honest: post-grad life is grueling.

    College is super stressful, but this is a whole different type of stress because you will be on your own and you will be trying to be an “adult.” Plus you will get asked by everyone you interact with the dreaded “so what are you doing now that you graduated?” and as the months go by and if you still don’t have an answer, you will seem and you will feel more pathetic. All you will do is worry because you won’t want to dread that question, you will want to answer it and you will want to be excited about your answer, but you will have no idea what/when/how you will have the answer.

    Every job application you send out will feel desperate and you will just hope that the employers can’t tell. You will feign enthusiasm in every interview you manage to get, but the second you leave you will be overcome with negativity and self-doubt. Every rejection you get will feel personal, because it kind of is, and you will doubt every decision you’ve ever made in college ie maybe you should have studied something else, maybe you’re not an ideal candidate for any job because of XYZ.

    It will feel like everyone is judging you, especially your parents/guardians, especially if you live with them because everyone is judging you. “Judging” is essentially what employers do. No one will judge you as much as you judge yourself though.

    Right now, on the mental and emotional spectrum of Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar (clinically depressed) to Don Quixote from Don Quixote (unaware of his senselessness but unwaveringly believes in himself, disregarding the ridicule from anyone else), I feel closer to Esther Greenwood. I would love to be more like Don Quixote.

    Hence why I got dressed for once to be seen in public, went to Starbucks, and got an iced pumpkin spice latte.

    Pumpkin spice, everything will hopefully be nice eventually.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Remembering

    Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the passing of my cousin.

    It had actually slipped my mind that this anniversary was approaching because my sister was preparing to move back to school so I was spending a majority of my time with her and my mom. What caused me to remember the anniversary was that I started thinking about my cousin more than I usually do.

    I always think about her…but this was different. She was at the forefront of my mind when I woke up and thoughts of her were affecting my mood more strongly than usual. It wasn’t until a couple days of this that I remembered the anniversary of her death was approaching.

    I’ve been practicing strengthening my intuition by simply using it more, so intuitively, I felt that she was reaching out to me. Perhaps she wanted some attention or perhaps I subconsciously wanted to actively remember her, or both. So, I decided to start talking to her.

    It may seem a little unusual, it’s a little unusual to talk about it honestly….but it feels right to me.

    I talk to her when I’m driving, which is usually to my girlfriend’s house because I don’t really drive anywhere else. The drive is about an hour, thus it’s a decent amount of time to talk to my cousin about what I’ve been up to, thoughts/feelings that I have, and I also ask her some questions. Sometimes she asks me questions.

    My cousin was like an older sister to me, so allowing myself to communicate with her is…comforting and familiar. I used to call her frequently and she was always there to provide the insight that only an older sister can offer. I don’t have an older sister, in fact, I am the older sister to my sister, so the relationship I had with my cousin was and still is really special.

    Another way that I’ve been remembering and honoring my cousin is by rewatching Freaks and Geeks, which is a show she had told me to watch during my sophomore year of college, and we had talked frequently about it. It’s a perfect show to watch as autumn approaches too.

    At the end of the day, the little things I’ve been doing to remember my cousin are more focused on who she was to me when she was alive on Earth rather than focusing on how devastating it is that she is gone and feeling solemn that she isn’t growing with our family anymore.

    To me, it’s more important to remember the life one had as well as acknowledging their spirit. It reminds me of some of the African spiritual practices I’ve read about in Jambalaya, which I haven’t finished yet but I highly recommend it. So many cultures have traditions for their ancestors…I want to make my own for my cousin as well as my other ancestors. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but I will let y’all know what I decide to do!

    Please provide me with inspiration! How do you remember and honor your ancestors?

    xx Vic

     

  • Yummy Recipes

    Lentil-Lovin’! – Spiced Moroccan Lentil Recipe Review

    A couple of years ago, my step-grandmother introduced me to the world of lentils. She had shown me a lentil soup recipe that I then cooked on my own until high school consumed my life and I temporarily stopped cooking. I forgot about lentils after that since it’s not a staple in my mom’s Puerto Rican- cooking, or in any other heritage that I am regularly exposed to. It wasn’t until my girlfriend, who is Indian, brought Indian cuisine into my everyday life that I remembered my love for lentils.

    Plus, since I want to make more vegetarian dishes, it’s a great ingredient for a variety of meals!

    I decided to make spiced lentils that I hoped would be similar to a delicious Indian lentil dish I had had. They were not very similar because this lentil dish is Moroccan-inspired, but they were still fantastic! I got this recipe from Minimalist Baker, which is my favorite recipe site as of late. I love this website because they make vegan/vegetarian meals, and many of them are very simple to make. They usually require only a couple of ingredients, most of which I have at home, and they aren’t time-consuming either. I definitely recommend checking them out!

    This recipe called for green lentils specifically…I’m unsure why honestly. I don’t know the difference between lentils. Perhaps it’s akin to differences in beans? I’m a lentil-novice still, so my apologies that I don’t know more.

    I got these lentils from ShopRite, and I thought that compared to other lentils, the green ones were more expensive. That was also because they only had organic green lentils. I don’t know why they didn’t have nonorganic green lentils, but my girlfriend recommended that next time I go to the Indian store to get lentils.

    Aside from lentils, you also need a whole red pepper, onion (I used yellow), tomato paste, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, and a crap-ton of spices.

    Then, all you have to do is cook the lentils until tender and blend the other ingredients to make a sauce. Once the lentils are cooked, drain the excess water and mix in the blended sauce. Bam, that’s it!

    The cool thing about this recipe is that you can add as much of the required spices as you want so you can make it as spicy, acidic, sweet, and salty as you want! I will forewarn y’all though to taste it as you go…and maybe to slowly add the fresh spices too.

    I personally feel like I added too much garlic and onion to mine. I thought I used the required amount, although I didn’t measure anything…but because you don’t cook the sauce, the bite of the garlic and onion remains pretty intense. If you have sensitive stomachs, and even if you don’t, perhaps cook the onion and garlic a little before you blend it, or cook the sauce after you blend it…or both! I wanted to try cooking it to see how it affected the flavors, but I didn’t get a chance. I expect to make this again so I’ll try it for next time.

    Anyway, here’s the mixture of the sauce with the lentils.

    Below is the dish with my girlfriend’s spicy Indian rice as well as some fresh parsley and cilantro on top. Another time I had this fish with plain jasmine rice and then another time with my girlfriend’s not-spicy Indian rice, and those ways I had it were better. A super flavorful rice competed too much with this spiced lentil dish.

    The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that I find lentils to be a little confusing to make. The only other time I’ve made them has been in soup, which takes awhile to cook so they end up being prepared properly. In this situation, however, my girlfriend felt that I had undercooked them. I ate all six servings myself and I had no idea. I’m going to watch a lentil cooking video next time to ensure that they are prepared properly.

    Do you like lentils? How do you like them prepared?

    I’m going to make a new lentil soup this week so stay tuned for that!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    June & July Favorites!

    I’m super excited about this post! I’ve never done a “favorites” post before and I think it’s a fun addition to my blog. My favorite items range from books, clothes, food, and beauty supplies, so there is something for everyone. Let’s get started!

    Favorite Sunscreen: CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion

    I got this product after reading several articles about how the most common sunscreen in stores has been damaging coral reefs and it’s also not good for your body. You can look this up online for the details, but the gist is that the chemicals found in sunscreen interfere with hormones and such in your body. This sunscreen is made with zinc, which is a natural element, thus it’s better for your body and for coral reefs! What I have noticed though is that unless you make sure to rub it in, you may have some white residue on your face. Just make sure to look in a mirror before you take photos or go out haha

    Favorite Lotion: Sleep Lotion from Bath and Body Works

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    love Bath and Body Works! I go on a shopping spree there with my mom and sister at least four times a year so we have scents for every season. The store recently had their Biannual Rubber Ducky Sale, so I snagged this for around $5-7 whereas it’s usually around $15! While I have tried many of their lotions and scents, I think this one is my favorite and I definitely will have to repurchase. The scent is so relaxing and warm, I love it. It’s also super moisturizing! Since I’ve been shaving my legs for the summer, my legs get really raw and irritated but this lotion soothes them and locks the moisture in for 24 hours. It’s the perfect solution!

    Favorite Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass

    I know I listed two books but in my defense, the books were combined into one book, so, I count them as one. This series is phenomenal and incredibly thought-provoking. I purchased the edition published by Penguin and they included all these amazing footnotes that provided a ton of insight on the characters as well as the author. This makes a great summer read because it’s simultaneously philosophical and whimsical! Follow me on GoodReads if you want to link up about books!! You can find me by going onto the main page of my website and in the right sidebar, click on one of the books that I am currently reading.

    Favorite Drink: Taco Bell’s Watermelon Freeze

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    This drink is iconic! It’s not too sweet in my opinion and the flavor is so tasty! The only suggestion I have for this drink is to make the sugar candies chocolate candies instead. It would be more reminiscent of Friendly’s Watermelon Roll (did anyone else grow up eating these slices of heaven???) and it would, therefore, be better overall. The chocolate would provide a beautiful contrast to the sweet and sourness of the slush. Perhaps when I get it again, I’ll add chocolate chips myself and report back!

    Favorite Chocolate: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Ginger

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    I am obsessed with ginger! It’s my favorite spice. I also have a deep love for dark chocolate, which I eat daily. Two of my favorite things combined together is pure heaven! I was first exposed to this delicious dessert when my girlfriend bought me dark chocolate ginger candies to make me feel better. I don’t know if I was suffering from allergies or if I was sad, but it was one of the best treats she’s given to me and also the worst because unfortunately, chocolate ginger candies are sooo hard to find! I’ve only seen them at ShopRite where they had half the size of this container yet at the same price, and at Trader Joe’s, which is the best option for this delectable treat. I may have to make them myself, honestly.

    Favorite Dessert: Trader Joe’s Gone Bananas!

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    I strongly advise against buying this because it will ruin you. I devour almost the whole box in one sitting, they are way too delicious. They are so good that now whenever we go to Trader Joe’s, my family buys at least four boxes. Obviously, we can make this ourselves and it’d be cheaper to do so. In fact, my sister and I did make a version of this last summer, however, we didn’t cut the bananas up into slices. Banana slices make frozen bananas less painful to eat because you are less likely to get brain freeze or feel pain in your teeth from biting into a frozen banana half. Next time I make this, I will definitely be cutting the bananas into slices!

    Favorite Outfit of the Day: Tangerines!!

    My sister and mom picked out this cute tangerine top from Anthropologie for me, and I love it! It’s the perfect shirt for summer because it can be worn casually or more dressy as I wore it in these pictures. I paired the shirt with fancy, woven shorts from Abercrombie I bought two years when I used to work there.

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    My orange earrings and bracelet (the engraving in the bracelet is a coqui) are from Puerto Rico when my mom went to visit my grandma. I think I got the goldstone bracelet during a Florida trip back when my grandparents were still alive. Lastly, the watch is a gift my mom got for me for my most recent birthday.

    Those are all of my favorites for these last two months! I’d like to continue this series if not every month, at least every other month. Perhaps I can integrate some things that I got that I don’t like too! I also want to do lookbooks/OOTD pics again. I take photos for them but I haven’t posted them since like…2014/2015?

    Have you tried any of the things that I’ve listed, or are you interested in trying something that I shared? What are some of your favorite items from the last two months? Let me know in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • Picture of a rearview mirror reflecting the road behind the car
    Short Stories

    Demanding Visibility

    The door slammed behind me, muffling his roar.  Maybe I could no longer hear him at that moment, but I would probably hear him later because it was certainly not the last time we were going to have this conversation, if you could even call it that.  Most conversations I have do not include faces red with fury, the slamming of hands on the walls and tables, spit from angrily enunciating words while shouting, and only one person vocalizing their thoughts while the other shrinks into their seat. Most conversations do not look like this, except for the conversations I have been having with him lately.

    “Where are you going?” my sister asked from the stairwell as I powered down the hall.

    “Out,” I replied tersely, grabbing my car keys and slamming the front door behind me.

    No amount of doors slammed could quell the rage that I had to suppress while he had verbally torn me apart.

    Tobacco and spearmint lingered on my tongue, and I touched my lips, smiling as I remembered why.  With my other hand, I twisted the key in the lock and opened the front door. I froze in fear when I saw a figure standing in the stairwell, but then I realized who it was and relaxed, although annoyance quickly replaced that feeling.

    “It’s past 11.  Where have you been?”

    “Out,” I stated.

    “An eleven PM curfew means you have to be here at eleven, not leave where you are at eleven,” she explained, irritated.

    “I lost track of time.”

    “Who were you with?”

    “My friends.”

    “Which friends?”

    Exasperated, I threw my hands up in the air.  “I already told you!”

    “Don’t raise your voice at me. Remind me.”

    “Marisa…the usual,” I explained, struggling to level my voice.

    “Where did you go?” she inquired.

    “Out.”

    “Out where?”

    “Dunkin, Starbucks, whatever was open.”

    “Those places close at ten.  What did you do for an hour?”

    I narrowed my eyes at her.  “I’m going to my room,” I replied, shrugging past her and heading up the stairs.

    “Answer my question!” she yelled after me.

    “We were outside.  I’ll make you an itinerary next time,” I said, slamming my bedroom door behind me.

    My bedroom door burst open and she stormed in, leering down at me as I lay in bed.

    “Good morning,” I sarcastically greeted her, sitting up.

    “What does this mean?!” she asked, desperation evident in her voice as she threw papers onto my lap.

    I briskly shuffled through them and then calmly met her watery stare.  “Where did you find these?”

    “Online.”

    “Well, I don’t know what they mean,” I replied, handing them back to her.

    “Is this who you are?” she asked shrilly.

    “No.  I don’t know.”

    “What do you mean you ‘don’t know?’” she shrieked.

    “I don’t know!” I yelled, tossing off my blanket and standing up.  “I told you everything I know!”

    She challenged me with her eyes for a few beats before turning and storming out of my room, slamming the bedroom door shut behind her.

    I slowly opened my bedroom door, and we tentatively emerged from behind it.  My heart pounded as she looked down at us from the stairs that led to her master bedroom.  She spoke sternly and carefully.  After a brief interrogation, she dismissed us with a threat to call the police if I bring the woman beside me home again, and she informed me that we were going to discuss this later.  As per usual, there probably wouldn’t be too much discussion.  Numbly, I nodded, and then we raced down the stairs, seeking out safety in my car.

    She leaned over the middle barrier in the car and tilted her head up toward me, smiling.  “Alright, well I have to head home, but text me when you get home.”

    I nodded and leaned the rest of the way to kiss her awaiting lips.  When she pulled away, she smiled at me, causing my heart to flutter.  She looked out the windshield and started talking animatedly about our weekend plans, but then she paused.

    “Hold on,” she said, her eyebrows furrowing as she focused on the rearview mirror.  “What’s that?”

    I looked at where she was pointing.  Behind the rearview mirror was a small, black microphone.  My heart raced as realization struck.

    “Can I pull it down?” she asked.  I silently nodded in acquiesce.

    She turned the microphone over in her hands, raising it closer to her eyes.  “I don’t know if this is a recording device, or if it’s just part of your car.”

    “I don’t know.  My dad regularly works on the car, so I don’t know.”

    She put it back behind the rearview mirror and looked at me.  “I’ll take a look at it more closely tomorrow when I see you.  Try to relax for now.”

    I tersely nodded.  She lifted her hand to my cheek, cupped it and pulled me toward her for a last goodbye kiss.  I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the one before.  “It’ll be okay,” she murmured.  “Text me.”

    Then she opened the door and climbed out of my car.

    I reluctantly got into the passenger side of my car.  He wanted to take a drive with me to get gas, which was thoughtful but I knew he had an ulterior motive.

    We rode in silence for ten minutes, and after he told the gas attendant to fill it up, he began his speech.

    “I don’t understand you anymore,” he confessed, looking over at me sadly.

    I met his eyes and replied, “I’m just not hiding anymore, but I’m the same.”

    He shook his head.  “No, you hid from us for years.”

    “There was never a reason to bring it up.”

    “You could’ve brought up that you were struggling.”

    “I needed to figure things out for myself.”

    The attendant returned to the driver’s side mirror, and my dad handed him cash.  We sat in silence while the worker counted the change and handed it to back to my dad.  My dad restarted the ignition and pulled out of the station, heading home.

    © 2016, 2018 Vic Romero

    In honor of Pride Month, which has passed but…I thought I’d share regardless. 

  • Yoga

    Living with Uncertainty

    Despite how heavy my foot was on the gas, it felt like we were driving in slow-motion. I was weaving around the cars in my way and tailgating them as my dad clutched his side and dry heaved into a plastic bag. I had never driven so recklessly and aggressively.

    I pulled to the front of the emergency room and he pulled himself out, hobbling toward the door. I quickly parked in the deck and with shaky hands, I put on my sweatshirt and sprinted to the ER after him. He was already inside, sitting in a wheelchair and checking himself in when I arrived. He had stopped shouting in pain and was relatively calm as he sat there.

    They told him a room would be available in a few minutes as they wheeled him to the side to wait. Suddenly, his calm expression broke into one of agony and his mouth opened wide to verbally release the torture his body was causing him. I rubbed his back and reminded him to breathe deeply, hoping it would pacify him. It did not. He continued to cry and shout in the waiting room while people checked in. Then he started vomiting into a plastic bag. I got him tissues to wipe his face and I asked the administrator when the room would be ready. I was impatient at this point.

    Fifteen minutes later, a nurse slowly meandered over and wheeled him to the room he would spend the next six hours in. Ironically, it was the same room he had spent nine hours in, the same time last year. That time was for a different emergency though.

    After several hours, multiple doses of pain medication, and many tests, the doctor diagnosed him with kidney stones. He was able to pass it in the hospital and be released the same day.

    Life is obviously uncertain, but it didn’t use to scare me as much as it does now. My cousin’s death has completely transformed the way I perceive the world and it has caused me to raise questions that I otherwise wouldn’t have asked or even considered. While I feel like I have more compassion and gratitude for life, I have also come to recognize as life as being very fragile. This has caused me to develop fears that I did not use to have. Some of the fears are silly while others make more sense but… I haven’t seemed to overcome them all yet.

    The terrifying experience I had with my dad on Monday as well as the volcanic tragedy in Guatemala, among many other tragedies that people experience, has caused me to reexamine the reality that life is fragile.

    I had shared this realization with the grief group I used to attend about two years ago now. Many of my peers had solemnly nodded their heads in agreement as I shared my concerns and worries about this fact. The therapist, however, raised the question: how do you deal with uncertainty?

    One method for coping that my peers came up with included acknowledging the challenges we had faced previously and that anything that comes next can be overcome too. Another idea was to focus on the present rather than worrying about what might never occur.

    Since I’ve been learning more about yoga philosophy for my yoga training, I’ve learned another effective method for challenging my fears is to be in a state of mind that is described in the Yoga Sutras, which is upeksha, or “indifference.” I learned about this idea in an article from The Yoga Journal written by Frank Jude Boccio titled, “Calm within.”

    Boccio deems it is more apt to regard upeksha as “equanimity” rather than “indifference.” He defines equanimity as “a state of even-minded openness that allows for a balanced, clear response to all situations, rather than a response born of reactivity or emotion.” He adds that it is a balanced state of mind and heart. It allows one to experience pleasure and pain without clinging to it or condemning it. In other words, equanimity is about experiencing life and different situations without judging it as good or bad and therefore, maintaining an emotional detachment from it.

    For example, my dad had kidney stones and needed to be hospitalized. It’s not good or bad, it just happened. He was able to get the care he needed to alleviate his pain through hospitalization, and he was working from home that day which enabled me to drive him there. So..while it may seem unfortunate that he had to be hospitalized for this condition, it was actually perfect timing and everything panned out well. In the moment, however, it was scary and awful but it needed to happen this way. If he was at work, he would’ve been taken to a hospital that was further away and it would, therefore, take the rest of my family longer to get to him.

    Equanimity is also about realizing that while you can’t be responsible for nor can you control what happens in life, you can control your reactions. I controlled my reaction by driving him to the hospital, and I let the doctors take control of the situation.

    The last aspect of equanimity as Boccio describes it is that you have to open your heart while simultaneously letting go of expectations and attachment to results. This aligns with what I’ve been reading in the Bhagavad Gita, which is Hindu scripture traditionally written in Sanskrit. It is part of several books of epic poetry.

    The god, Krishna, tells a warrior, Arjuna, that it is important to act for the action’s sake, and not for the results, whether that be success or failure. This equanimity is yoga. (The physical aspect of yoga that is the most popularized is only one limb of yoga philosophy. Yoga is actually a more comprehensive philosophy with eight limbs).

    I believe this type of mindset and state of being would be beneficial to me and it is something that I would like to practice in both my asana practice as well as in meditation. This way I can keep a level head when difficult situations emerge and I can also live with less fear than what I live with now.

    How do y’all feel about equanimity? How do you live with uncertainty?

    xx Vic

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