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When and why would you do a self-discovery journey?

When we think about our daily life we really fast start feeling overwhelming with our calendars full of things-to-do, appointments, family commitments, including our significant other and our kids.  We think of ourselves as the wife, the mother, the co-worker, the boss, the teacher, the nurse, the daughter, the aunt, the sister, the friend… the list is endless.  But is that who we are? Are our different “titles” what defines us? 

The answer is no. We are just running day after day fulfilling all these commitments and obligations, most of them with a big smile, a feeling of satisfaction, a feeling of love and gratitude… but is not who we are, is what we do.

This is why a journey of self-discovery is so important.  It is not to put a stop to all the things we do, but to learn to do them mindfully.  To consciously act upon our to-do list with the certainty of knowing the core of who we are, with the ability to extend the love to ourselves, to learn to be kind and compassionate towards our feelings, to believe we are in the pursuit of our happiness and this happiness is tangible.

There is no better day than today to start working on transforming our lives for the better and by doing it from within us.   Start today and you will be thanking yourself for the rest of your life for the gift of loving you.

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schawb

This post has my personal opinion and you are invited to provide any comments at the end.

How I got the book?

I found out about this book after I read “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”, I was looking for other books to read written by  V.E. Schwab found out about the Trilogy “Shades of Magic” and it was like hitting the jackpot! I immediately went to my local bookshop and got the first two books.

The two main characters are Kell, one of the last Antari, who are rare people with the unique magical ability to cross through all the parallel Londons, crossing between the Red, Grey, and White (and once upon the Black) Londons.  He is also a smuggler who crosses items from world to world, which of course is illegal, and Delilah Bard, from Grey London, who is a wanted petty thief dreaming of adventure, and freedom.   Their destinies are intertwined and together they manage to save Kell’s Red London from a terrible plot to be overpowered by the King and Queen of White London.

Yes! It is that cool! I was submerged by the adventure, the uniqueness of the plot with the different worlds, the magic sipping through the different worlds, the impressive strength of Delilah as a survivor that has not lost the ability to dream and hope for adventure and freedom, and of Kell, his gentle manner, his loyalty and love for his world, and his need to believe that he is something more than just an Antari and a messengers between the parallel worlds.

My Personal Opinion:

This book captivated me from the very beginning. The immense impact of the Latin Music is clearly visible in

This book captivated me from the very beginning. I honestly did not know what the plot was and I started reading having no clue what to expect, and I was submerged in the plot from the start.  As my brain tried to make sense of the words, and tried to project the crossing between worlds, I was totally sold on the adventure.  Once Delilah’s character was introduced, I immediately took a huge liking of her strength, determination, fearless heart, and unyielding goal to survive, not just by getting by, but by dreaming of adventure, her lack of fear of the unknown captivated me.  

The author takes its time with its characters, presenting them strong in their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.   You immediately feel who characters can be trusted, and just like that, which characters you need to keep a closer eye, distrusting their words and actions.  Also there are many moments in the book in which big and important actions are taken, and the author allows you to be part of it, to feel that we are in Kell or Delilah shoes, you fear for them, you hope the best for them, you give a high five to the air when they get away from the danger, and you get consumed by the story when they are caught and in danger.

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is its content. The choosing of the songs and the artists that were interviewed and provided their view of the song and how it was created.  It is the perfect combination of Latin Music and HThe highlight of the book is its content. The plot, the worlds, the magic, the characters, it all just merged into a great adventure that you are part of. You wish you could have Delilah’s fearless determination and Kell’s resolved loyalty and kindness.   I can’t wait to start on book number 2# and two chapters into this book I have already bought the third book!.

The Negatives:

The book, although the content is incredibly interesting from all angles, the writing can, at times, let me wishing for more specifics, I had the same feeling when I read “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”,  although I enjoyed the plot, and the characters, and its development, the writing at times can be a bit rushed.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication Date: 01/19/2016
  • Category: Fiction,  Phantasy
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? Would you like a personal review to a book? Let me know! I am always looking for recommendations and suggestions to add to my reading list.

Enjoy reading!!!

3 Efficient Tips on How to deal with stress when we feel burned out…

We all feel like professional jugglers, however, we know deep inside we will not be joining the Circus anytime soon… we are professional jugglers that are yet to perfect the art of juggling, we just keep dropping our tasks on the floor.

We feel at times we are enclosed on a bubble (unbreakable bubble by the way) in which we are always been watch on how we manage our day to day responsibilities and now the schools are back, well panic sets in, and we start self-doubting what we are doing, and over-compensating with trying to do more, and realizing we are under-achieving by boxing punishing our self-esteem when in reality we are superhumans doing the best we can, which to be clear, is perfectly done.

So how do we go back? How do we take control of our thoughts that constantly compare us with everyone around us but fail to be kind to the person we see in the mirror? We take small action steps that prepare us for the day ahead, including:

  1. Do your planning in a realistic way:  We are all guilty of making our bullet list of things to do with 15 or more actions to accomplish.  It doesn’t matter if the 15 items are to be done in one day or one week or one month, our hearts and souls want to go running with a list that long.  Be kind.  Make your list shorter.  Prioritize.

Try to stick to 5 things at a time.  3 that are easy to do and 2 that will require more time.  This will allow you to cross-check 3 and move forward with those tedious ones.  Once you have cross-checked 3, you can add more, and so on.  Your 15 items can be accomplished within the time frame, but giving yourself the ability to focus on 5 items at a time will calm your stress down.

  1. Do a 5 to 10 minute Yoga Session:  This is a great way to let the burnout feeling fly away.  Yoga will make you concentrate on your movement, your body, your breathing, and at the same time will stretch your muscles, your back, shoulders, and neck, actually your entire body.   Yoga does not need any special equipment, and you can find a pose succession on Pinterest, or find a free workout on youtube, or your favorite workout app.    In the end, you feel the benefits of a 5-minute mediation in which you have engaged your body and will not make you feel like you just run a marathon on high heels.   5 to 10 minutes… that’s all you need.
  1. Listen to your favorite band when you were young:  There is something magical when I play Miguel Bose while making dinner after a hectic day taking care of the family and my work.  I relax. I sing out loud, I dance, I smile, I enjoyed it!. It remembers me when I was young, and at high school, with those long nights with my girlfriends drinking rum and coca-cola and talking about how our lives were going to be (none of us actually made that happen).  Miguel Bose, or Carlos Vives, or Paul Simon transport me to a moment in my life in which I was happy and carefree, and young. Ask Google to play that old favorite song, their sound will warm your heart and melt your stress away.

So there you go… three great (fun and easy) tips to help you lower your stress level when you feel you are about to explode.  

I practice them constantly and have to help me a lot when I feel that the anxiety of the never-ending things to do starts blocking my mind and speeding my heart, and after it is done, I can smile, and relax, and most importantly ENJOY the now.

6 Tips on how to support your kids in school…

Gray Nordic Travel Photo Postcard

It is usual for us parents to have high expectations for our kids at school. I have always said to my kids over and over that their main responsibility is to study and do their best at school. I, as a parent, expect my kids to help around the house and clean their rooms, and for the most part, they do, but schoolwork is important and is prioritized when planning my family schedule.

A few days ago my oldest son received the news that he could take an exam, provided by his school district, that if he passes this exam he will be eligible to get credits that will allow him to learn 9th Grade Math next year when he goes to 7th Grade.  He is already in Advanced Math and thriving in his class. So when I brought this opportunity to him, and I left it to him to take it or not, he immediately accepted the challenge.

After reviewing all the information, he said he wanted to take the test, and my only two conditions were that he needs to prepare himself for it, and whatever he does with the exam he does it with 100%. He would need to practice and read and practice some more, of course, I will help him and support him. I said that if he doesn’t pass the test, it’ll be ok as long as he gave 100% and gave all his effort. He, of course, agreed enthusiastically. 

So, that made me think… how can us parents support our kids with their studies?  Here are my tips for you. It is what we do as a family and has worked for us so far.

  1. Create a reading habit. Give your kids time to read every day.  The time gets adjusted as they get older. For example, my 9-year-old gets 20 to 25 minutes, my 12-year-old gets 25 – 30 minutes.  This habit will help them build the foundation to discipline themselves towards their school work.
  2. Provide them with a place to study.  It can be their room, your room, the dining table or the kitchen island. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it is a constant place they feel comfortable and familiar with. 
  3. Learn with them.  Yes, we want and need time to sit down, relax, and do our thing, but taking the time to learn with your kids is pivotal to their learning process.  We, for example, read the Children’s Encyclopedia with our kids. They pick the subject and we take turns with reading the paragraphs and before we know it their little brain just learned new information.
  4. Support them in what they like.  My sons have gone through all kinds of interests, from the Titanic to airplanes, to all kinds of sports, etc., so we take them to the Library and they can find books on the subjects, from dinosaurs to precious rocks, and from Catholicism to Buddhism. Whenever a subject catches their attention, we motivate them to learn more about it.
  5. Reward success and understand the failures. When your kids do great, be happy for them, make them feel their effort is valued, and when your kids have what’s considered to you failures, be compassionate and understanding. Ask the right questions such as “Do you understand your mistake?” and “Do you want to go over it to understand it better?” “How can I help you bring the grade up?” Asking questions like “Why did you fail?” and “Why you did not try your best?” Are counterproductive and will not bring their grades up. We all make mistakes, and getting back on track is what matters. You want your kids to be open and honest with their struggles so when a bad grade or conduct comes home, it is a window to connect with your child in a compassionate and loving way.
  6. Provide them a healthy breakfast and a healthy snack. A nutritious, low sugar and a “good” fat content snack or meal are important for your kids.  When they eat healthily and nutritious, it is scientifically proven that their brains become more attentive and their body/mind becomes significantly more energetic and alert and that makes a big difference on their day at school.  We have our own “breakfast ritual” with our power shakes every morning (Monday to Saturday), but breakfasts like avocado toast, toast with hummus, a plain yogurt with low sugar granola and all sorts of fruits and veggies are great options.  A healthy snack when your kids come back from school includes, hummus and celery/carrots sticks, or hummus toast, almonds, cashews or pistachios, low sugar energy bars, etc.  Providing a healthy snack and meal will provide a surge of energy to tackle any homework or sports activities.

These are my top 6 tips for helping your kids with their studies.  We do all 6 of those tips with our sons, and so far it has helped them tremendously. They are thriving at their academics and after school activities (soccer and running).  It also provides an avenue to make you feel like you are a part of their journey. Remember, their success is your success.

 

 

Summer Lessons and Back to School Daze

My two boys have been going to Panama (where I was born) since they were 1 year-old.  They will always go for 5 to 6 weeks depending on my parents (they stay with them while in Panama), and my plans for the summer.   Last summer, it was the first time in 13 years that my oldest son did not go to Panama. He was sad, but taking into consideration the international chaos that COVID 19 created, it was not a choice we made, it was just what needed to happen.

Then came this summer, and although things are “better”, we decided it was better for all that the kids skip another vacation trip to Panama.  They would not be able to visit my grandmother and aunts, play with their cousins, or go to the beach, or walk around the city, like they usually do.  My parents visited for a longer time during the summer in order to spend time with their grandkids and me, but after two months they returned to Panama.

This was a very special summer for us as parents.  We tried to provide the kids with activities that were readily available, at not that much cost, and that focus more on healthy habits.  Tennis lessons from the local tennis coach followed by tennis practices in the local tennis court with us.  Same with soccer and running which are their favorite activities.

Additionally, we provided educational activities as well.  By making a daily educational to-do list which included reading history books,  math and writing workbooks, and reading poetry and encyclopedias, every day they had tasks to finish, goals to reach.   

We also found out we all loved SURVIVOR (the first time we ever watched this show), and it was fun to catch an episode (or two) right before going to bed.  All four of us in one bed betting which tribe will win challenges and who would be eliminated.  We took turns picking up movies to watch, which included cartoons, action, sport documentaries, oldies and classics, and TV sitcoms. We all had 2 hours of TV to choose from and we will all watch it together.

School starts in two days, and we are excited.  The kids are ready to go back to school, and we are ready to have our hectic routine back.  My biggest worry is to start waking up at 4:30 am, instead of the late 6:00 am that I have come accustomed to since the kids got out of school.  But I do look forward to seeing them thrive, learn new things, be with their friends, go back to soccer and running practices, and go to bed at night and look at my husband and know that we are extremely tired… but extremely happy as well.

How was your summer? I hope it was fun, unique, diverse, happy, sane, and insane… and the force be with you as our kiddos return to school.

Book Review: Decoding “Despacito”: An Oral History of Latin Music by Leila Cobo

This post has my personal opinion and you are invited to provide any comments at the end.

How I got the book?

I heard about this book in the Podcast “All The Books” a Podcast from Book Riot which is a weekly book podcast of recommendations and discussions about the most interesting and exciting new book releases.  In this particular episode this book was presented and I got super curious about it.  I am from Panama and I love Latin music, from spanish rock all the way to Salsa and Reggaeton, so of course, when I heard about it, I immediately bought the book from Barnes and Nobles and went to pick it up.

I truly enjoyed the way this book is written as it breaks down 12 songs that profoundly impacted Latin Music, each song includes an introduction as well as interviews with the Artist, songwriters, Record Label Directors, Video directors, and other key personnel that had an input in the song. 

The songs are presented in the order they were launched.  Going from 1970 all the way to 2018 providing a clear view of the Latin Music movement, changes, innovations, fusions, and collaborations. From Selena to Carlos Vives to Daddy Yankee and Juan Luis Guerra, this book includes all Latin Music genres and goes deep in the impact of the songs in their time it was release, the efforts to make it happen, the creativity of the artists, and the good luck of being at the right place at the right time.

I am Latina and grew up listening to Latin Music and with the years I have built a solid collection of Latin Music, from Juan Luis Guerra to Ricky Martin, my heart and soul are just full of joy every time I put a record in our home.  So I quickly realized this book would become part of my book collection that I can revisit over and over and read it with the same excitement and nostalgia that I would fee when I put an old Miguel Bose record on.

My Personal Opinion:

This book captivated me from the very beginning. The immense impact of the Latin Music is clearly visible in this book.  Also we can clearly see how Music distribution has changed through the decades, and the importance of social media and music accessibility platforms like Spotify and Pandora has impacted how music is widely displayed around the world. It is clear that there are barriers when it comes to music and as the times goes forward different collaborations that includes different music genres from different countries yield to unique music styles that continue to brake barriers and unify music lovers everywhere.

In the book we see the story behind these 12 songs, what inspired them, how the melody was created, how the album or record where put together, the struggles and the many “no”  that gave a “yes” at a later stage.   We can see how music is develop and how it is a team effort in order to have a Mega Hit (along with genuine talent).

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is its content. The choosing of the songs and the artists that were interviewed and provided their view of the song and how it was created.  It is the perfect combination of Latin Music and History.

The Negatives:

The book, although the content is incredibly interesting from all angles, can be a bit of a journalistic and therefore at times can be a bit robotic in the writing. Although I understand the reasons behind it, since I do prefer Fiction and Poetry books, this type of writing can be a bit dry for me. 

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 302
  • Publisher: Vintage Book Orinal
  • Publication Date: March 2021
  • Category: Non Fiction, History, Musical
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? Would you like a personal review to a book? Let me know! I am always looking for recommendations and suggestions to add to my reading list.

Enjoy reading!!!

Book Review: The Air You Breath by Frances de Pontes Peebles

This post has my personal opinion and you are invited to provide any comments at the end.

How I got the book?

This book was chosen by one of my Book Clubs. It is my first book with a Book Club and I cannot be happier with the selection because I am almost sure I would not have chosen this book on my own free will.

The story line of this book completely caught my attention. The book narrates, in an autobiographical way, the protagonist love story with music as the never-ending love, and the love story of friendship between her and her best friend, to whom from early one she latched on dedicating her life to their survival both, in poverty, in success, in love, in music.

The story goes back and forth during the span of the protagonist’s life. The protagonist, now an old woman, gives us a tender and dramatic, as well as real picture of her upbringing (being an orphan living in a sugar plantation as a kitchen aid), to escaping the plantation in order to pursue freedom and music, with her now best friend Graca which is the daughter of the owners of the plantation, to surviving poverty in the streets of Brazil pursuing their dream of becoming music super stars, to the aftermath of losing it all all at once, and her redemption finding love, comfort, and music inspiration again.

Our protagonist, Dolores, and best fried, Graca, life story is always challenging, scary and uncertain, but propelled forward by their undying love to music, to created it, to sing it, to be famous and successful. Dolores coming from absolutely nothing, with no parents, no home, no family, no money, no possessions, and Graca, the daughter of the owner of the plantation, mean to marry a rich husband, having kids, and Our protagonist, Dolores, and best friend, Graca, life story is always challenging, scary and uncertain, but propelled forward by their undying love to music, to create it, to sing it, to be famous and successful. Dolores coming from absolutely nothing, with no parents, no home, no family, no money, no possessions, and Graca, the daughter of the owner of the plantation, mean to marry a rich husband, having kids, and living lavishly although plainly are complete opposites brought together by music, by a yearning to be loved, to be needed, to be remembered, to be famous, to be special. Their differences make them stronger together, but at the same time, makes the perfect component to one of the most explosive, destructive, tender, and loving relationships I have witnessed.

Dolores is also open about her sexuality, from early one she is transparent and lets us in in her love life as casually as it can, accepting and understanding her sexual preferences.

My Personal Opinion:

This book captivated me from the very beginning. The immense impact of her birth, being an orphan of a “whore” and raised by the main cook of the plantation where she lived, where she was raised not as a daughter, but as a cook aid. Early on we get that Dolores has no family, no friends, no schooling, no roots. It allows us to understand her dependency on Graca, who is the white daughter of the owners of the plantation, not only on their friendship, but rooting her life on her.

In the book, we are witness to Dolores and Graca’s life, in the plantation where their friendship is forced by loneliness and also by camadery and their love and passion for music. The book goes back and forth in time, from their childhood in the plantation, to their teenage years as two girls living poorly in Brazil’s Lapa town working many low paying jobs in pursue of music stardom, to their life in US after been discovered and finding fame, to her life after the early and shocking death of Graca.

I truly enjoyed the characters in the book, from Vinicius the guitarist who becomes her partner in music, and her most important relationship after Graca, to the band of musicians, and other personalities that touch and impact their lives in many ways. All the characters had flaws, but were well developed, and even though some of them had a short appearance in the story, their presence made an impact in their lives, their choices, their fame, and their failure.

This is the second novel of Frances de Pontes Peebles and I am definitely reading her first novel, “the Seamstress” and will read her future books as well. Her writing is absolutely wonderful, I can feel the emotions, I can see the places, I can know the characters, it is all real in her writing and there is so much love, so much sentiment, and so much realism too.

If you are looking for a book full of love, love for music, love for friendships, love for freedom, this is the book for you.

Favorite quotes:

“If remembering tells us who we are, then forgetting keeps us sane. If we recalled every song we’d ever heard, every touch we’d ever felt, every pain no matter how small, every sadness no matter how petty, every joy no matter how selfish, we could surely lose our minds.” 

― Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Air You Breathe

“It’s always easier to think that your intentions are just as important as the outcome, but this isn’t true. The outcome is everything. The outcome is what you live with.” 

― Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Air You Breathe


“In life there are countless firsts and even more lasts. The firsts are easy to recognize; when you’ve never experienced something before – a kiss, a new style of music, a place, a drink, a food – you know exactly when you are encountering it for the first time. But lasts? Lasts nearly always surprise us. It’s only after they’ve disappeared that we realize we’ll never again have that particular moment or person or experience.” 

― Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Air You Breathe

“When we are young, we give ourselves completely. We allow our first friends or first lovers or first songs inside us, to become a part of our unformed being, without ever thinking of the consequences, or of their permanence within us.” 

― Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Air You Breathe

“In the deepest, purest parts of our imaginations there is no male or female, no bad or good, no villain or hero, no you or I. There is only feeling, and the exhilaration of feeling.” 

― Frances de Pontes Peebles, The Air You Breathe

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is its story telling style. How the book makes us witness of the journey of Dolores aThe highlight of the book is its storytelling style. How the book makes us witness of the journey of Dolores and Graca for success, how their innocence, their love for music, their love for each other, their longing for fame, their longing to belong to someone, to something, to each other, transformed them, changed them, raised them, and devastated them.

Dolores, due to being an orphan, distrust everyone, including at times Graca and even herself, she distrust their good fortune and their fame. She is more comfortable during hardships as she believes that’s where she belongs, and that is when Graca will need her the most.

Frances de Pontes Peebles writing is beautiful, captivating, it is full of wisdom, but full of innocence at the same time. Her words slide into each other like a waterfall that is meant to drop to a beautiful lagoon. It is sweet, and bitter, it is hopeful and cruel.

The Negatives:

I cannot find a negative to this book. I loved the storyline, loved the characters, the ending just brought the whole story to a delicate and tender end. You feel that you, like Dolores, have reached a destination and are at peace with her and yourself.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; Reprint edition
  • Publication Date: July 2, 2019
  • Category: Fiction, Coming of Age, Historical
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? Would you like a personal review to a book? Let me know! I am always looking for recommendations and suggestions to add to my reading list.

Enjoy reading!!!

How to help yourself reach that unreachable goal

As good as it feels to reach a goal that we have set up for us, it can be very disturbing when we see goals that we have not yet reached. When we realize that we are not reaching the goal on time (or at all), the enthusiasm and inspiration slowly disappear, leaving us wondering if we are good enough to stick to our personal goals.  Be assured that we are good enough, but our methods are not.  And we need to take a hard look at what we are doing, we need to truthfully listen to our excuses and thoughts.

Which excuses or thoughts?  I have spoken before about self-sabotage and of negative thoughts which are both real enemies we face every day.   We need to learn to let go of negative behaviour and thoughts that make us feel as if we are cheating ourselves, even though we are working so hard and keeping up with new positive attitudes and habits.  Yes, we have made immense progress and that you need to recognize and be happy for it. 

In my experience the best activity that works for me is to journal about my day and my thoughts.  Journaling is my way to stay accountable. When I stop journaling I know deep inside I am running away from a reality I don’t want to face.  It can be that I stop working out, or that I am overeating, or that I am not keeping up with the house chores. Whenever I stray away from my goals, I stop journaling.  And to be honest, finding my way back can be hard especially if I am feeling overwhelmed with the day to day activities.

I can convince myself that I am working hard, that the kids need me, that my husband needs me, that I need to put more time to my house chores, or that I need a break from the never-ending agenda in order to breath and relax, but at the end I know that it is just a way of coping with the neglected goals that I can’t reach (like writing a blog post every week or sticking to the 10k running training).   

Taking time to reflect on why we stray from our goals, why we look the other way instead of facing the fact that the S.M.A.R.T. goal that we have (for the day, week, month, or year) has not been reached is a part of growing up, of facing reality, of maturing, and of self-improvement.  It takes guts to look back, backtrack, and start again, but oh boy! It does feel encouraging at the same time.

So do not despair if that goal is looking harder and harder to reach.  Take a look at your reality, at your day, at your hours, write in your journal about your true feelings, meditate in silence and listen to your mind speak to you, take it in, understand it, give it a pad in the back, and start mapping your way back to it.   We can do it.  We do have the power to do it.

Book Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

This blog has my personal opinion and you are invited to provide any comments at the end of the blog.

How I got the book?

I got this book while browsing the Kindle app when looking for a fun and light read on a late Friday night. I must confess I am not really good at following “series” but I was intrigued about the plot and the book was on sale too.

The first chapter of the book totally enchanted me. The main character’s ordeal to lift her curse its so realistic, you almost feel as you have been cursed too and you just regain your life and freedom after so many years. At this point I knew I was going for a fantastic ride full of magical moments, potions, enchantments, intrigue, and fantasy.

This is when the author Luanne G. Smith introduces us to the different kinds of witches, what the do, how they stay in obscurity, and the internal rivalry among them. It is fascinating trying to understand how the witches see and perceive each other, from showing respect to looking down on other kinds of witches.

When Elena, our heroine, brakes the curse she returns to the vineyard where she used to live, only to find that things have changed. The vineyard now belongs to a new owner, who has no knowledge of the importance of Vine Witches and their role in the vineyard, which is suffering from producing low quality wine compared with the way it was before. Elena is also determined to find out who cursed her and on doing some revenge, although she has a good idea of who cursed her, the end reveals shocking twist.

My Personal Opinion:

This book was all I could hope for and more. I found it witty, magical, honest, heart-warming, and at times heart-wrenching… I read this book fast, not missing a bit, and enjoying every chapter.  It’s been a while since the protagonist of a book plays a strong role, so assure of herself, so in tune with her plan and her role ahead.

I liked the plot, the interesting take on witches, their different “kinds”, and what they do and how they used their magic. I also enjoyed the different positions in which Elena is put into including being put in a magical jail and her attempt to escape. I liked that the book was fast paced, there was no time to get bored at all, with one adventure after another, one new character introduced, one new twist given.

There were times in which I wish the characters were further develop, that I was given more of the characters, their past, their feelings, their thoughts, at times I wish I knew them more.

This is the first of three books and I intent on reading the other two too!. This was Luanne G.Smith debut novel and for sure I will be looking forward to more of her books from now on!

Want to read a fun, magical, and adventure packed book with a strong female main character? This is your book!

Favorite quotes:

“We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

― Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch

“We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

― Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch


“Intuition knows the truth when heard, but the sound can leave a terrible ringing in the ears.” 

― Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch

“The dull progression of an ordinary life that chipped away at a man a day at a time so that he didn’t see the damage done until he found himself sitting alone in a house with nothing to show for it but the slow ticking of a clock on the wall.” 

― Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch

“Mortal men. What flaw was it in their ape brains that convinced them their schemes were paramount to everyone else’s?” 

― Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch

The Highlights of the Book:

The highlight of the book is its storyline. It’s original and beautifully written opening a window to the world of witches unknown until now.

Elena, the main character, is strong, so incredibly strong, and so optimistic, even when things go wrong right in front of her, her mind is strong and determined.

Great debut novel and two more are out and also having great reviews (I can’t wait to read them), however, the book has an end and so it is up to the reader to get the other books or not without affecting the end of the Vine Witch.

 Finally, the book is entertaining and short, although at times it left you wondering and wanting more, the fast pace of the story and its development will keep you reading until the end.

The Negatives:

At times it can let you wondering what else you should know. Some characters need development and are introduced so fast and gone faster that I don’t think I remember the majority of them.

Information as found in Amazon:

  • Print Length: 268pages
  • Publisher: 47North
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2019
  • Category: Fiction, Fantasy and Romance
  • Language: English

What are you reading right now? What book would you recomend me? I am always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.

Enjoy reading!!!

5 Tips on how to avoid Self-Sabotage!

The road to self-improvement is mostly marked by reaching goals, it can be small goals or big goals, daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly goals.  It can be a shared goal or a personal goal, from reading more books to losing weight there is always a goal to reach on our road to better ourselves.

However, when we see that we will not reach our goal or that it will require additional effort than we first thought, we unconsciously self-sabotage ourselves toin order to give us an excuse of why we are not reaching the “milestone”.  Self-sabotage is hard to detect because we have been doing it for years and it has become almost a habit of ours (or for better words a damaging habit).

How to detect Self-sabotage? Below are few tips that can help you recognized, confront, and change those actions that self-sabotage our goal to be better at whatever it is that we want to be better at (zero judgment here).

  1. Make a list of affirmations that you can reach at any time.  You can repeat them in the morning in front of your mirror or in bed while gaining the energy to get up  (or while taking a shower).  The affirmations should include your intentions for attaining your goals for the day and should help you visualize the goal and what you are planning to do in the day to get there.
    Examples of these affirmations are:
  • “Today my mind is open for quality meditation”
  • “Today I am strong and will run 3 miles as per my running schedule”
  • “I am important, time on me is important, and I will dedicate time for writing / journaling / meditation at lunch time”
  1. Do smart, attainable goals  We all want to accomplish something and the road to getting there is set by reaching smaller goals.  If you want to learn to quilt, the best way is to start is  by doing a potholder or a table runner, and leave the queen-size bed quilt when you have mastered several smaller projects.  The same goes with everything, if you want to learn to cook or bake start with a beginner’s recipe book and build your skills up.  If you want to run a marathon start and you are not a runner, the training will be overwhelming and you will self-sabotage yourself from the get-go. However, if you start training for a 5k and then a 10k, and then a half marathon, by the time you start your marathon training you will be comfortable with the time and the distances that you will need to run during your training.

Setting small goals towards your big goals will allow you to avoid to self-sabotage yourself into quitting.

  1. Surround yourself with a support system.  Having your spouse, kids, parents, siblings, and friends supporting you along while you conquer your goals is important.  If we want to read more books per month (or year) perhaps finding a person that wants to be a “reading buddy” for a book or two would be great, or if you want to reach weight loss having someone that will walk with you in the afternoons or will help you find easy and healthy recipes would be fantastic. 
  1. Be aware of negative or unsupportive people around you.  Yes, just as much as we want a support system, we need to get rid of the unsupportive ones.  If you are trying to have a solid month without drinking alcohol and your friends keep telling you to forget about it and go for a night out, then you will likely sabotage yourself sooner than later.  Or if you are trying to learn how to cook, and your spouse or roommate want to eat take out all the time, you will not accomplish your goals.  

Be aware of how negative comments can affect you, your mindset, and your goals, and when those comments or thoughts come from people close to you like coworkers, friends, or family we need to put boundaries for them not to affect your goals.

  1. Pay attention to your physical and mental stages while accomplishing the goals. If your goal is taking too much time away from family or your self-care routine, you may start feeling unbalanced and frustrated, easily allowing you to give up your goal.  If you need to slow down your pace, or need to do changes to the schedule, or need to extend the time you needed to reach your goal, do so, and do so without any hesitation. We are human and the most important is that you are not giving up, you will just trying to find a better way to get there.

The road to self-improvement is always ahead of us, setting goals to get better at new skills, or accomplish a personal agenda, or create a new positive habit should be a constant in our lives.  Setting goals and accomplishing them provide us comfort in our growth while taking responsibility for our actions

I hope these tips help you create a sense of awareness towards accomplishing the goals you have set up for yourself, and can also provide you with a clear reason of why you have been failing to accomplish that new skill, habit, or action that is in your agenda.

4 Tips effective tips to boost your mood when feeling depleted

  1. Get outdoors!

Very simple, but oh so effective.  Going outdoors does not necessarily mean that we need to gear up to make a 1 hr walk around the neighborhood (although if you can EXCELLENT!), it can also be just sitting on the bench outside watching cars to drive by or like in my case, just go to my little backyard and watch my 10-year-old kick soccer ball for 20 minutes, encouraging and laughing with him.   Also, it can be to attend to your growing herbs, plants, or flowers or simply putting the yoga mat outdoors and doing some simple stretches.  Go outdoors and relax with nature.

2.  Listening to your classic oldies. 

This always works for me, and in my house, they know that at the moment that they hear the Spanish singer Miguel Bose or the band Duncan Dhu or Sublime it means that I am recharging my soul and my mind.   I have nothing against listening to new hits (like the latest reggaeton song by Bad Bunny), but if you want to have a boost of energy put on that song that you would hear with your friends growing up in repeat!  Listening to Aerosmith “Crazy” is a direct battery recharge and at the same time brings me memories of happy times!

3.  Drink a cold beverage.  

Preferably not caffeinated, however, from natural juices to water, to sparkling flavored water (Bubly Strawberry Flavor is my to-go-to drink right now), ice tea, kombucha, or a fruity smoothy! A cold drink will make your body feel fueled and ready to tackle what is next!

4. Quick gratitude meditation:

Being grateful and mindful of the good things in our lives is also a great way to boost our mood and energy when we feel depleted.  As we get more tired we tend to focus on “the list of things we still need to do” and lose focus on what the list truly represents (family, home, kids, husband, food on our table, clothes to wear tomorrow), so taking a few minutes to be grateful through a guided meditation (3 to 5 minutes will be sufficient) is super effective!

I am confident that these 4 easy tips that can be easily followed will boost your mood when you feel like you are “going down” and feeling depleted. They are easy to make, inexpensive, and all you need is the right attitude to want to change your present mood state.