My mother has been a constant inspiration in my life. She is kind, compassionate, realistic, assertive, composed and self-assured. She is, by all I believe in, the wiser person I know. The use of “common sense” has always been her go-to-solution to all and every problem or situation and it is my goal to pass the “common sense” approach to my kids.
She has gone through the loss of her son, which is a pain that as I have learned, never goes away. She has worked hard “38 consecutive years” as she says it, climbing up the professional ladder without holding back, always with loyalty, professionalism, honesty, and integrity. She has been, is and will be my idol. My go-to-person when self-doubt, fear, pessimism, and doubt snicks in my heart.
Through the years, I have seen her suffer, adapt, change, dream, conquering happiness and peace, learning over and over to enjoy life, be loving and caring (and patient) to my dad, and be 100% available to my needs and wants.
After going through my own self-improvement program and in my pursuit to understand my life purpose, I have come to realize that she is not perfect, however, that realization just made me love her more since although she has her own challenging shortcomings, she has managed to be stronger than anyone I know. She has taught me life lessons that today I am sharing with you:
At any time of my day, during a good moment or a low moment, I remember my mom and imagine how she would react, or what would she chose, or how she would handle the situation I am in, and by following her example, I have been able to move forward and in the positive direction. I am grateful to her. I am grateful for her heart and her soul. I am grateful for her love. I am grateful for her lessons.
Mornings can be tough… The eternal juggling of managing people, pets, and oneself so early in the morning can be quite overwhelming. I remember getting out of the house and sitting in my car thinking… I’m ready to call it a day, and I still have to go to work!! With time, I started to pay more attention to our routine , and with practice my family and I were able to make it work. Of course it is still hectic, but not as chaotic as before. It has a flow that we have gotten used to as a family, and when I get into my car to go to work I can catch myself smiling, choosing a new podcast for the drive with a sense of accomplishment.
So what are my tips? I’ll share them with you and hopefully it will give you focus during those early hours of the morning.
Not every morning will be perfect , and we know it. A spilled glass of water, a grumpy/sick kid in the morning, even we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, but when we put the organization into it, even the bad mornings become manageable, and most importantly LESS STRESSED!
Sometimes I do think that one day when my kids have gone to college, I will look back and see all those morning with gratitude. Each one of your mornings are a segment of your life timeline and should be enjoyed to the max. Maybe one day it’ll be just me and my husband waking up to a cup of coffee and those moments will surely be cherished and remembered.
A few months ago I completed a self-improvement challenge and one of the new habits that I decided to adapt to my daily routine was having 1 to 3 daily goals. I would write down the goals in the morning and kept them on my mind as my day unfolded and reflect on them at bedtime.
The goals are to be simple and attainable. From working out to drinking more water, to listening to a new podcast, to limit time spent watching youtube, to have a conversation with my husband after we put the kids to sleep. The idea is to feel in control of your actions, of your decisions and to make things happen.
I invited my husband to join me for the daily goals and he happily accepted, so we both, while getting ready or making breakfast will take the time to out loud say our goals of the day. Then we invited the kiddos… and it has been a wonderful decision.
We all as individuals see and perceive things differently. I work as a marine engineer for the maritime industry and have been doing so for about 14 years, my husband has a contract to do home health so his industry is wellness and performance. Then we have our 12 and 9-year-old whos live is mainly school, soccer (younger one) and running (oldest one), and home. So, the 3 daily goals are as different as they are surprising.
For me, my daily goals can look like:
For my husband, they usually look like:
For my two kiddos, the goals are usually:
We always try to discuss how we did with the daily goals, what we accomplished and we did not. With the time I noted that we are all more open to trying new things, to set the bar higher as we accomplish these goals and also to be accountable when we don’t reach them. We are more self-assured and more confident and most importantly we are doing our best, personally and collectively to improve ourselves, to be better with ourselves and those around us.
Sometimes, even when you have a weekly meal planner, dinner improvisation happens… for example, last weekend my husband’s best friend came for the weekend to be with him for my husband’s birthday and after a full weekend of soccer games, late-night talks and dinners out, I found myself on Sunday afternoon without a meal plan and with no time to go to the supermarket, so Monday rolled over and I found myself in the improvisation mode. I have been there before and when it usually happens, I have a to-go-meal that never fails: The deconstructed dinner.
What are the ingredients? Go to the pantry and open your fridge to find out… that’s right, the intention is to use ingredients that you already have.
In the picture is a clear sample of what I am talking about. For example that Monday, I had a bag of frozen organic edamame, a can of each organic corn and chickpeas, a ripe avocado and a mixture of organic rice (black rice, quinoa, white rice, and bulgur).
I cook each “main” ingredient with different spices. For example, the edamame was cooked with paprika, salt, and pepper, the chickpeas were cooked with turmeric, cumin and cayenne pepper, and the corn with butter, salt, and paprika. Each ingredient bringing a different flavor to the plate. I usually serve it in a bowl, with rice in the middle and the other ingredients around it. A boiled or fried egg is a nice addition on top with a splash of hot sauce.
I have used virtually every ingredient found in my pantry, fridge or freezer during this unplanned meals, including kale, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, black beans (or any kind of beans), carrots, tofu, and chicken to mention a few. The intention is that you can use anything you have and make it healthy, quick, easy and delicious.
I grew up with a fantastic group of friends. Some of them are part of my life since I was 5 years old (really we met in kindergarten!). Others were added to the circle as we grew up, however, we, all together, go back since we were 12 years old.
We are now older, we would think smarter, definitely more experienced, we want to believe wiser. We have stuck together through 25 years of friendship where marriage, divorce, kids, distance, and loss has happened. But we are us, uniquely us, we encourage each other, we help each other, we give each other company, we complain about everyone and everything and we, sometimes, don’t see eye to eye (at all). I am a very fortunate and grateful person for having them in my life.
I have personally a great story about what friendship is all about, what my friends have taught me with their actions. I was 17 years old when I had a bad car accident. I broke my neck (C5) and back (L2 through L5), which meant I was so very fortunate to be able to tell the story, even more of fully recovering from it. The recovery took months and one constant through all those months were my friends. They took turns coming to visit me, they learned how to help me with changing clothes or with shower and bathroom duties, they helped eat when I was not able, learned to clean my wounds (I had the halo), and most importantly where constant emotional support.
We were young, just graduated from high school, we had boyfriends and we liked to party. We were wild in our own way. We were good kiddos that truly enjoyed going out and living life and so for the next few months, we held parties at my house so that I could be present, they slept in my house so that my parents could leave for the weekend to attend other commitments, they took me to therapy when needed and wherein the house the moment I would feel down and in pain. They were my rock.
I am so grateful for my friends for what the did during one of the most painful times in my life. I am grateful for their company, support, encouragement, compassion, and kindness. My love for them has only grown stronger as the last 25 years have passed and we remain as close as ever. Even though I chose to leave Panama and come to live in the US and therefore my life took a different route than theirs back home, we talk every day through Whatsapp and phone, always fully invested in each other lives. Always. That is what I call best friends forever (all 13 of them).
Treasure your friends, no matter where they are, no matter how different their lives look from you now, friendship is an infinite source of power and encouragement, but it needs to be nurtured, you need to pay attention to it, you need to be present and provide as much time as you can. Call them, talk to them, listen to them, tell them how much their friendship means to you. Always.
About three years ago we consciously started to reduce the use of plastic in our home. It has been a lengthy process, but in the pursuit to be more environmentally conscious and creating a sense of social consciousness in our kids we have come a long way. Here are the ways we have reduced the use of plastic in our home.
We have a soccer player in the family (my 9-year-old son) and for years soccer has maintained a very important place in our lives. As a family and individually we love the sport. My dad recommended this book, he brought the book from Panama for me to read it. He spoke highly of the book and its author and I was pleased to agree with him. It is my first book written by Argentine novelist Eduardo Sacheri and I have lined up already a few more books including The secrets in their eyes which was turned into the same-name film and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2010.
The story centers on four friends and their never-ending passion for soccer. After Alejandro “Mono” dies of cancer, the remaining three friends (Fernando, Russo and Mauricio) work towards securing that Alejandro’s daughter is economically taken care of. However after Alejandro invests all his money in a promising soccer player that slowly falls behind reaching the full potential, the friends get into a complicated, funny, and at times heart-breaking plan to make sure Alejandro’s investment returns the needed profit.
The book is as funny as it is touching, is a declaration of friendship and family that is rooted in love, devotion, and loyalty. It is the story of a friendship rooted in childhood that grows stronger as their lives take different roads maintaining in common their strong bond and the passion of soccer. If you love soccer and believe in the power of friendship, I recommend this book.
An affirmation can be defined as the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” For years I kept hearing about affirmation and the powerful transformations that can cause in our emotional state, however, I was very skeptical and did not trust the power that a sentence could have in my life.
One day, following the guidance of a self-help book, I tried and I was taken aback with the impact it made in my day. Since then I have constantly changed my affirmation to match my state of mind or my goals, and I have also divided them doing morning affirmations and bedtime affirmations.
I have been doing the below affirmation for 30 days and the results have been great with the way my day goes on. I am enthusiastic and positive, I am kind and open-hearted, I am fearless and self-assured.
Below I am sharing my affirmations, but there are tons of them in the internet, Pinterest or Instagram. Find the ones that call your name.
When I look back I have always being a loner… I like spending time by myself and with myself. Always had. At times friends and boyfriends would complain about me being reclused and moody, and I always admitted to it, never fought it or felt insulted. It was true, I could recluse myself into solitary to study, to soothe my mind, to nurture my soul. I just need time alone.
I have always been surprised how after 20 years of leaving my home country, my friends (my closest friends) are the ones I have back in Panama. Those amazing 13 women were, are and will be one of the best gifts life has given me, and thanks to WhatsApp we are constantly chatting, giving advice, reprimanding, complaining, encouraging and congratulating each other. Of course, I have made friends since coming to the U, but 20 years later there are just about 5 people that have been close enough to call them a friend.
When I turned 35, there was a major shift in me. I started reading self-improvement books, marriage books, communication books, mindfulness books and with this new information I was learning, I became aware that me being a loner was a trait of my personality and most importantly I learned to embrace it.
So what are the things that I enjoy doing all by myself? Here are a few of them:
Watching a movie: I work next to a movie theater and ever so often I try to treat myself for an early afternoon movie on Fridays. Maybe it happens once every two or three months but when there is a movie (especially a rom-com girly movie) I go in, popcorn in hand, and have a blast all by myself.
Having a meal in restaurants: I know it’s not easy to see people eating by themselves, but what if that person is choosing to be alone? In my case, there have been so many times in which I have been eating by myself, in a nice place, watching people walk by or just observing the restaurant. I remember when I was in college I would go to this cafe for lunch and sit by the window just watching people walk by, I enjoyed the meal, the view, and the loneliness.
Traveling: Walking into an airport is instant relaxation for me. I like going to the airport at least 2-hours before my flight and sit in a food court or Starbucks and watching people walk by. Also been by myself in a long flight (8 or more hours) is therapy to me. Watching movies, reading, writing, or just plainly thinking, enjoying the constraint of not been able to go anywhere for the next 10 hours. Princeless.
It is my experience, now at 39 years old, that taking the time to get to know yourself better is pivotal in our continuous self-improvement. We need to decipher ourselves and embrace our own thoughts. We are all different and when I am walking in a mall and I pass by a group of friends, I smile… my lonely trip is their group trip… and we are equally enjoying it.
Cooking Fried Rice has been a staple in my home for quite some time. The main ingredients (as per the recipe below) always remain the same, however, sometimes I add Kimchi (my husband is Korean) when we have it in the house. We usually keep it meatless but you can definitely add cubed ham or spam if you prefer it with meat.
Below is the recipe, is simple and takes about 30 from prep to completion.
We usually cook this for dinner on Fridays (who wants to cook after a full week ah?) or Sundays. It is easy, fast, delicious and minimum ingredients. Also this recipe works great with left over rice which is a plus when trying to recreate a meal with leftovers. I promise this is better than Take Out Fried Rice!
For the love of cooking…