It’s June now, and I am doing much better mentally than I was at the beginning of the quarantine.
Yes, we are still in quarantine.
Being optimistic about life feels more plausible now that lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted…but anyway, I’m not here to update you on the status of the world. I want to share with you what I’ve been up to these last two months!
Quarantine has forced me to slow down, reflect, reevaluate, and initiate new action. While I would hope to never endure a quarantine again, I think I have taken advantage of this time in a few different areas of my life. Those areas include my mental well-being, my career goals, and my yoga teaching.
After several mental breakdowns two months ago that put a strain not only on my mental well-being but also on the relationships I have, I decided to make finding a therapist a priority. I had been considering getting a therapist a few months prior, but I kept making excuses, which was easy to do when I was busy running around living the life of a twenty-something-year-old woman. Quarantine made it difficult for me to continue to ignore my mental health though.
After some research, I decided to try BetterHelp because it was affordable without health insurance, it was easily accessible since the communication is digital (which is perfect during quarantine), and it offered a lot of flexibility. It was super easy to set up an account and get matched with a therapist- you answer a few questions and share any preferences you have for the type of counselor you want, and that’s really it!
Some things I really like about BetterHelp include:
- I can message my therapist at any time and as frequently as I want. This has been great for bad days when I need to just dump all of my feelings.
- There are group workshops weekly that you can sign up for on different topics such as managing worry, toxic friendships, trauma, etc.
- There is a weekly “live” session with your therapist and you can choose how you communicate. I’ve been opting for the video chat format but you can also choose a phone call or live-messaging.
- My therapist has been sending me BetterHelp’s worksheets to help me work through areas I need more support in, and I find the worksheets to be useful. One that I’ve particularly enjoyed is about decatastrophizing worries.
- I also really like my therapist, but if I didn’t connect with her for any reason, I can request a new therapist.
Please do some research before deciding to try virtual therapy. I’m not an expert, but what stood out to me as the biggest drawback to virtual therapy was that counselors at BetterHelp can’t diagnose any mental illnesses and they also can’t prescribe medication. Please do research to determine which type of therapy is right for you.
If you do want to try BetterHelp though, you can click here to get one week free. This is an affiliate link so if you do sign up via this link, I would also get one week free.
In addition to therapy, I have begun graduate school!
I honestly did not expect 2020 to be the year that I enroll in a program…I thought I was going to be traveling a ton this year. Fortunately, I did travel before the quarantine began at least. But let me tell you about the graduate program!
I decided to enroll in graduate school after losing both of my jobs and after having a difficult time getting a new job. The challenges of getting a new job during a pandemic are likely related to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, however, I also began to notice that many jobs I was applying to preferred candidates with a CPA, which I don’t have. Thus, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Accounting so I can be eligible to take the CPA exam when I finish!
Graduate school has significantly benefited my mental health while I’m continuing to search for work because it provides me with a little more purpose daily and I know I’m working toward a specific goal. It’s been a rewarding experience and I’m very proud of myself.
The last significant change I’ve made in my life over the last two months has been establishing an online yoga presence.
Since I was teaching at a community gym that provided me with clientele, I wasn’t focused on promoting myself or creating an online presence at all. Unfortunately, I lost my clientele during the pandemic because I don’t have anyone’s contact information and I wasn’t connected with anyone on social media at all.
So I’ve recently created an Instagram, a Facebook, and a YouTube account! I’ve been primarily making short yoga videos, and most of the videos are chair yoga videos. I’m still experimenting with the online yoga stuff and I don’t have fancy equipment, but it’s been a ton of fun putting myself out there in this way. My partner has been supportive of it, which I really appreciate. His support has been the fuel for a good portion of my motivation to even do it at all.
Thank you for reading and for being here. Please let me know in the comments below how the last two months have been for you. Please make sure to include one thing that you are proud of, no matter how small it may seem 🙂
Hello, blog friends! I know it’s been too long since I’ve last written.
I didn’t intend to take so much time off from writing. I’ve had the time to write, but I kept postponing sitting down and working on a piece. Before I knew it, weeks had slipped by and I had barely written a single word.
The reason I continued to postpone this valuable “me time” activity is primarily because I’ve been avoiding introspection. I haven’t been ready to make changes in my life, thus, I’ve avoided reflecting on my life altogether.
Over the last week, however, I’ve been suffering through the negative impact an absence of writing has on me. This manifests as excessively distracting myself with TV and irrational thinking. An example of that thinking is entertaining thoughts of getting back together with my ex.
While I love my ex, I know we can’t get back together. My poem, Flowers, helps remind me why I ended things and why I want things to remain “over.” Although I don’t want to be with her, I haven’t been ready to let her go. Thus, we’ve been maintaining a strained friendship, which until recently, has been overall pleasant and has benefited both of us. Now, it’s not serving either of us well.
It’s unsurprising that we can’t be friends because we haven’t taken sufficient time apart to be friends and we are still in love with each other. While I know this information, I find it to be incredibly difficult to do what is beneficial for the both of us, which is taking a lot of time away from each other.
I talked to my cousin about my predicament, and she responded with an insightful metaphor.
“It’s like you’re hanging onto the back of a car’s bumper, and your ex is driving. You can either let go now, which will hurt, but then it’ll be over. Or you can hold on for awhile and be dragged along, and let go later. Both options hurt, but one hurts less.” -my cousin, a writer
Ugh writers. They understand life.
I’ve definitely been holding on for a long time because I fear losing her. But creating space doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re never going to be able to be friends again. It also doesn’t guarantee that we will reconnect in the future.
There is a lot of uncertainty that comes with space that frightens me. Uncertainty in general frightens me, especially since my cousin passed away. Accepting uncertainty is something I’m just always going to have to work on. Writing and meditation helps tremendously, I simply need to practice them.
Other than this challenge, I’ve been enjoying my summer. Since the last time I’ve written, I partook in a wonderful yoga workshop, I’ve gone to the beach, attended an all-day concert, watched fireworks with my friends, and spent quality time with my sister. I’ve been enjoying the summer’s nice weather as much as I can before autumn’s briskness takes over.
How was your July? What are you looking forward to in August?
Perhaps it’s unusual to be cooking up soup in the summer, but I was tired of making just chicken or salmon and pairing it with other food groups. Soup, on the other hand, is a great way to get all of your nutrients in one pot!
I’m a little tired of soup now that I’ve eaten it for two or three weeks straight though…but I thought I’d share what I made because it was so delicious!
Today I am reviewing for you two soups: a vegan lentil and veggie soup from The Minimalist Baker and a Portuguese soup from Rachael Ray’s old show, 30-Minute Meals.
Let’s get started!
1. The Minimalist Baker’s 1-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup
The reason I decided to make this recipe was due to the whole bag of lentils I had from the last dish I made! Plus, the recipe was simple enough because it used spices I had and it also called for common soup ingredients such as celery, carrots, and potatoes. I actually had leftover celery from buying it to eat as a snack, and it was going to go bad. My grandma is a big fan of using leftovers and whatever is going to go bad in a delicious soup. It’s much better to repurpose it and eat it than to throw it away!
The lentils were the main ingredient, so here’s a picture of the green lentils I had so you can see what they look like. Apparently, you don’t need to soak them, you just need to rinse them. Without soaking, they take a while to cook. It’s not like an hour or anything, but it takes a little longer than pasta to cook. Lentils have way more nutritional value than pasta though, so I think it’s worth it!
All you need to do is sautee the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery for a little bit with some salt and pepper. Then you add the potatoes, veggie broth, and season it all a little more. Once the broth is boiling, you add the lentils and simmer until the lentils soften. Once the lentils soften, you can add greens. I added kale because that was what the recipe called for and I don’t ever cook with kale. One time I tried making kale chips, but I overseasoned them and burned them…it was a sad time.
Below is a picture of what it looks like when it’s finished! It smelled so good and my parents were fans. My mom had gotten a sinus infection from sleeping in her dusty room from the construction, so she really appreciated the comforting and soothing properties of a healthy soup.
This recipe was definitely a favorite! I can easily see myself making this a staple in my diet, especially when it gets chillier outside. It has protein, veggies, and healthy starch!
I think what really made me love this recipe was the suggestion to add rosemary and thyme to the broth. I’ve never cooked with fresh rosemary or thyme before, but I learned that the aromas and flavors are divine. I didn’t use all of the fresh herbs that I had bought so I have been using them in tea to alleviate menstrual cramps. I’ll add that recipe another time!
The only somewhat negative thing I have to say about this recipe isn’t really negative but I feel like it took longer to cook than the recipe stated. Granted, I may not have been following the boiling directions properly.
The issue was that I feel like the lentils took longer than 20 minutes to become tender. As I mentioned in my previous lentil recipe post, I had undercooked the lentils before, so when I cooked them this time, I waited until they were very soft. This took more than 20 minutes for me, but perhaps with soaking them, it would take less time. I haven’t tried soaking lentils yet.
Since I cooked the soup for longer than the recipe called for, a lot of the broth evaporated, as you can see in the picture above. I only had one box of broth though (I used Rachael Ray’s veggie broth), so the soup was more like a…stew. Which was perfectly fine to me, but next time I’ll be buying two boxes of broth to make this soup.
2. Rachael Ray’s Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup
I had a ton of leftover kale (pretty much 1lb of kale), so I found this soup recipe which called for kale! I also had leftover potatoes, which were needed for this recipe. The only ingredient I had to buy was chourico and chicken broth.
This recipe required less preparation than The Minimalist Baker one because I only had to chop up the potatoes and chorizo, whereas the other one I had to peel and cut the carrots, cut the celery, cut the potatoes, etc. In the video of this recipe, Rachael Ray literally throws everything into the pot, which I felt was very accurate. I recommend watching the video by the way because it’s such an old video of her, it’s great!
Doesn’t the picture above look fantastic?! It smelled and tasted as good as it looks too. Anyway, this recipe was simple. You saute the onions and potatoes, then once those ingredients are cooked a little, you add the garlic, bay leaves, and all the kale. I left about two handfuls of kale in the bag to use for omelets.
Once the kale wilts, which took longer than 2 minutes for me probably because the stove was too low, but once that did happen, I added the canned garbanzo beans, which I rinsed unlike what she does in the video, tomatoes, and broth. I didn’t have canned tomatoes so I just chopped up two fresh tomatoes. Once again, I used Rachael Ray’s broth, but I used her chicken one this time.
Once the potatoes are cooked, you are done!
I was the only one that ate this soup, so I can’t speak on how anyone else felt about it, but I loved it! I’ve never had soup with chorizo before but I loved it because it added heat that most soups I’ve eaten lack. It was also more filling than the previous soup because the protein wasn’t just lentils. This soup had chickpeas, which are super filling, and chorizo, thus it was a more well-rounded meal for me!
I will just say that the original recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I did not use so that may have allowed the cooking time to be about 30 minutes for me. Instead, I used the regular baking potatoes that I had bought for the vegan soup recipe, which were soft even when raw. I also did not peel the potatoes for this recipe because who has time for that??
I made the same mistake I made previously with the insufficient amount of broth in this recipe too, despite making it several days later and realizing my initial mistake! The reason I made this one wrong too was that the recipe specifically called for one quart of broth, so that’s what I bought. Again, always get another container of broth, unless you don’t mind stew-ish soups.
The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that it required you remove the casing from the chorizo. I didn’t do this and I don’t think Rachael did it in the video, but if casing bothers you, feel free to do it.
So, that’s it for me on soups! I am definitely taking a break from the soup world for a bit, but when I do want more soup, I can reheat the leftover Portuguese soup I stored in the freezer.
Do you enjoy soup in the summer? What is your favorite soup recipe? Tell me in the comments below!
I’m now a certified vinyasa yoga instructor! I’m so proud of myself and so grateful to have been able to earn this certification. It has been life-changing and eye-opening.
I’ve been wanting to write about my experience for forever, but the last two weeks have been unusually busy. Two weeks ago it was July 4th weekend and I was studying for my yoga final and spending some much-needed quality time with my girlfriend. Last week was the final week of my training and then we had a party to celebrate on Friday. Saturday I attended my step-grandma’s nephew’s wedding (weird? I know, but it was fun!) and then my parents left for a 10-day vacation. My weeks aren’t usually this eventful.
Now that I’ve graduated both from college and this training program, my days have slowed down a bit, thus I’ve resumed the arduous and depressing task of applying for jobs! Also, yesterday I spontaneously purchased a new member pass to a local yoga studio to become more acquainted with the yoga community. I also am hoping to teach at this yoga studio. I have some other studios in mind too though in case it doesn’t pan out.
Something needs to pan out though because I desperately need to work. The stress that comes with job applications has unfortunately returned, despite it being managed better due to Yoga as well as my wonderful girlfriend’s insight. I’m so pleased I got a month pass to attend an unlimited amount of yoga classes though because it will provide some much-needed structure until I figure out the job stuff. Plus I love yoga and I am trying different styles of yoga through this studio! It’s awesome.
Some things I’ve been thinking about lately, other than jobs, have been doctorate programs and whether to create a website just for yoga stuff.
In regards to the first thing…I still have to look at program curriculums but right now, I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in Women’s and Gender Studies. I feel nervous for being interested in that type of program though because it’s a relatively new field and aside from academia, I imagine job prospects to be bleak. That may not be the case but considering I have been having a difficult time getting a job with a degree in economics as well as WGS, I expect to deal with similar or worse challenges if I specialize in WGS only. On the other hand, because it’s a new field, I could be part of groundbreaking work such as helping to establish it as a notable field as well as being one of the first teachers in WGS to have studied WGS (currently, most WGS professors have diverse backgrounds of study ranging from Africana studies to economics to sociology).
The other thing I’ve been pondering about is the development of a professional website. This website that I’ve been using for four or five years now is quite personal, so I feel uncomfortable sharing it with people that I know and using it to advertise my business…it’s not a business website anyway, it’s my personal website. I should probably make a professional yoga website but websites are not cheap and as I’ve mentioned before, I need a job.
The lack of a job is making me nervous for next month because I don’t know what I will do. Will I be working a 9-5 an hour away from home? When will I have time to do yoga then? Will I get a job that will force me to relocate? How can I advertise for my yoga services if I can’t afford to make the website and if I have a job and can afford to make the website, how will I provide services if I’m working full-time?
I’m uncertain when I should invest money to make money and when I should save it I guess. I mean..I invested money to get the training so maybe I should save it now and make a free yoga website until I am able to upgrade? Any thoughts?
I keep revisiting my dream life scenario where I have my PhD so I am able to conduct research and teach, and then also teach yoga. To achieve this dream life though, I’ll definitely have to undergo some uncomfortable shifts of time-management and I’ll also have to do things I don’t enjoy. Or…as what Yoga philosophy argues…I may not expect to enjoy it but I should find contentment in what I’m doing regardless.
I really want to write posts about yoga, which may be more suitable for a yoga-focused website. One cool thing though is that I will be able to write for a yoga teacher’s website! I was introduced to her through the famous yoga Facebook group I always mention and she was looking for guest writers! Whenever my article is posted on her site, I’ll let y’all know!
I recently made a salad inspired by a recipe from the Yoga Journal, and it was great! I have mixed feelings about salad because at least when I make it for myself, I don’t feel like I have the greatest skill at combining ingredients that go well together. Therefore, salad recipes, albeit simple, are helpful to me. As per usual with the recipes I prepare, I didn’t have every ingredient required, so I had to improvise. The results were still great though!
I didn’t measure anything for this recipe so I just threw a couple of handfuls of arugula in a bowl and I added a quarter of an avocado, because I had eaten most of it the previous day. Then I added chopped walnuts, raw sunflower seeds, the rest of the parmesan that I had, and a chopped tomato. Lastly, I squeezed half a lemon, drizzled olive oil, added a bunch of black pepper, and a pinch or two of Kosher salt.
That was it! It was super simple and it had flavors that I usually don’t add to my salad unless I’m at a salad bar or if the salad is made for me.
Some of my go-to salad ingredients are canned beets, canned mandarin slices, craisins, and red peppers. Clearly, I like sweet salads.
What are your favorite ingredients for a salad?
I stared up at the ceiling fan as it whirled overhead. It was attempting to provide a breeze in the sweltering evening heat but to little avail. My oversized t-shirt clung to my back, sticky with perspiration. I raised my feet into the air, feeling the slight breeze tickle my soles. Then I rolled onto my right side and stared directly into the electric fan. The wind it created was aggressive and loud. My hair blew off of my face and I sighed blissfully.
Then my phone pinged.
I glanced at it, unamused, and snatched it off of the chipping, white side table. It was Ashley.
I heard what happened to you and Tom. I’m so sorry.
I frowned and turned off my phone. She’s not sorry, she is probably thrilled that he’s now available. She always liked him. I could tell by the way she looked at him and how she talked to him.
I rolled back onto my back and resumed staring into the ceiling fan, hoping to be hypnotized into a deep sleep.
Sleep. What a foreign concept to me at this point. I haven’t slept since we broke up a week ago. It’s been even longer since I’ve slept alone. Two years. It’s been two years…I don’t know how to sleep alone anymore.
I closed my eyes, hoping that if I pretended to be asleep, I’d eventually trick myself into falling asleep this time. Instead of looking at the back of my eyelids though, I was confronted by Tom’s face hovering over me, illuminated by the moon through the window. He was smiling mischievously, some locks of his golden hair falling into his eyes. Then I felt his warm, calloused fingers draw circles on my right arm. His breath was warm when he leaned in and whispered in my ear, “Tell me what you want.”
I smiled, relieved that he was back. He tenderly kissed my face, but when I tried to kiss him, he shook his head, his grin widening.
“Tell me first,” he said, kissing my neck. The sensation sent chills down my body, and simultaneously ignited my skin. “Tell me what you want.”
I slid my hand across my hot stomach and brushed the top of my pubic bone.
“I want you,” I gasped as my fingers dipped lower, probingly.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked, kissing his way down my chest.
My touch sent a wave of warmth over my body. “I want you to…” I panted.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked, looking into my eyes.
“I want you to—”
Then my body shook, and everything felt like it was on fire.
When my breathing slowed and I relaxed, I whispered, “I want you to be here.” I opened my eyes expectedly as if I had just performed a spell to summon him. All I saw though, was the whirling ceiling fan in my dark room. I was alone.
My face crumbled. The satisfaction that I created dissipated and tears streamed down my cheeks.
© 2018 Vic Romero – Performance Poetics Spring 2018
It got quieter as we walked further down the uneven, dirt path and away from the party. The kids’ shrill screaming of “Happy Birthday” into a microphone diminished until it was entirely replaced with the squaw of birds and the rustling of leaves on the trees as the wind gently blew.
We came upon the small, wooden dock hidden by the shroud of shrubs at the edge of the lake. She placed a thick, woolen blanked on it, which covered nearly the entire dock since the dock was small and the blanket was large. Then we lied down and basked in the warmth from the sun. She rested her torso on my legs, her weight pressing my legs into the solid dock beneath me. Her body heat kept me warm during cool breezes.
It felt romantic out here, being surrounded by nature and away from the disturbances of traffic and everyday life. The calm sloshing of water against the base of the dock relaxed us. The air was fresh and dry for once, unlike many of the stifling hot and humid summer days.
We overlooked the lake, admiring how the trees framed the dark blue body of water on one side. The leaves were a vibrant green from chlorophyll, and they crowded each other on the trees. The lake reflected some of the trees’ vibrancy in the dark waters.
The other side of the lake was lined with large houses. Backyards informed us that the houses may hold small children with an affinity for outdoor play, such as swing sets and forts.
My ears perked when I heard voices approach us. A family consisting of what appeared to include three generations of people, ranging from grandparents to children, rowed by us on the lake. The adults rowed unhurriedly and everyone laughed and talked animatedly. One of the adults caught my eyes for a brief moment as we watched them from the dock.
© 2017 Vic Romero
I just returned from my family vacation to Europe, and it was a wonderful time. We went to Barcelona, Paris, and London. It was for two weeks, so pretty much the entirety of August thus far. I was nervous about going on a vacation that was so long and being isolated to with my family the entire time, but it ended up going really well: I didn’t confront any conflict with my family and although traveling had its ups and downs, overall, it was a nice vacation and I got to explore and see different things.
I prepared a lot for any emotional challenges I might face during my travels. I brought lavender oil with me, my Kindle, my journal, different colored pens, PlayDough, chocolate, and all of the DBT packets from my therapy group this summer. I didn’t use all of these tools during my trip, but when I did need something, they were very helpful. I tended to use the lavender oil and my Kindle the most. I journaled twice with my colorful pens.
Anyway…so I’m back to working my super-flexible job and I’m starting to plan how to plan for the rest of the summer and for my second to last semester.
Second to last semester! It’s so incredibly crazy…I’m going to be graduating in May.
I haven’t been the greatest at posting these European blogs…or beginning to even write them. I was determined to write all of the blogs about my trip on my trip because of how much time we spent traveling. As per usual, I don’t follow through with my plans.
I wrote consistently for the first two days. Afterwards, I just wrote lists of things I didn’t want to forget because I slept every time we traveled. When I got home, I was too exhausted to bother with writing the blogs and a month later, I am just fucking lazy. I’ll finish writing the blogs eventually because it’s important to me, but until then…I’ll be in the USofA, rotting away.
Since I’ve returned to the states, my life has been incredibly drab. It’s not because the excitement and glamour of Europe has dulled my regular, old life, but rather, I’m in limbo right now. Hell, I’m always in limbo. I should rename my blog “Life in Limbo” or something lame like that. (Speaking of my blog, I’ve been meaning to redesign it again. Another thing to add to my To-Do list.)
The reason I feel like I’m in limbo is because I am very lost when it comes to what the fuck I’m doing with myself. I don’t have a strict schedule so my days are all over the place, and I’m not the greatest fan of that. I miss school for my hour-by-hour itineraries. Fortunately, I’m resuming school in a couple of weeks, so order shall be restored to my life! Until then, I’ll be in limbo.
Some things I’ve been doing while I’m in limbo include working! Yes, shockingly, I got a job!
I’m in London! I’m doing a Europe trip with the alumni association at my university, although I won’t be an alumn for another two years but whatever! I’m a world traveler now!
So here are the details of my seven hour flight to London…
It was a little embarrassing because I started crying when I left my parents. I’m unsure what came over me..maybe it was because they had waited in line with me to go through security. Maybe if I said “bye” at the car, it wouldn’t have been such a dragged out “goodbye” and therefore it would’ve been less sad.
￼Well this is the plane. It has three rows instead of two.
I think my alcohol tolerance got super low because I feel tipsy after drinking less than half the cup. And I’m eating with the wine! I guess it makes sense I don’t have the highest tolerance right now because I haven’t been drinking much for the last month. A little before finals, I kinda holed myself up and avoided the party scene. I’ve been tipsy here and there but I haven’t been hammered since..mid-April maybe? So I have to be extra careful at the pub crawl my first night in London.
Anyway, I hope I can get some sleep. I definitely need it.