Live and Travel Well

It’s just about the end of 2016. I’m always filled with joy during this time of the year, but simultaneously I’m a little bummed out. It’s great that a semester of hard work is finally over, the holiday season is in full effect, and although the weather is harsh, there’s a festive, happy feeling flowing through the air. It’s impossible not to smile during December in New York City. What makes me sad is that there’s so much I want to do, and time seems to be quickly slipping away from me the older I get. The end of the year is a constant reminder that we’re one year closer to getting gray, but most importantly it’s also a reminder that we’ve been blessed with living another year. Unfortunately life itself is the thing we take for granted the most. For a lot of people, 2016 was a tough year. But even with all its flaws, 2016 has personally and professionally been one of the most successful, productive years in my life. Not only have I been blessed with another year of living, but several doors of opportunity knocked, and I kicked them all open.
One of the biggest opportunities I got this year was simply being able to travel. I was granted with the determination to visit places locally around the city, and then I was granted with the time and money to leave the mainland for a couple of days for the first time. In this post, where I went and what I did isn’t important, it’s the act of going that’s important. As a human being, I think it’s essential that as long as we live and have the drive, it’s our job to explore the world surrounding us. There are so many places to go, people to meet, things to eat, and facts to learn. The fact that you are living, consciously able to read and understand what I’m saying to you right now in this exact moment in time is a gift. I think we should experience as much as we possibly can in what little time we have. That doesn’t mean you need a plane ticket, a car, a bike, or even legs for that matter. All you need is a brain and a heart. And maybe a cell phone in case you get lost. You could go with your loved ones, with your friend(s), or alone. You could go to a restaurant in town that you’ve never been to, or you could go to a museum that’s halfway around the world. As long as you have the opportunity, I challenge you to go somewhere.

an old, narrow, cobblestone street with pastel buildings and a U.S. mailbox

Puerto Rico

an airplane view of an island

St. Thomas

Holiday Traditions

Image by: Flo Byderman

Image by: Flo Byderman

The semester is officially over and Christmas is quickly approaching. Winter has officially begun so it is a time to fight through the frigid temperatures and to fellowship with friends and family. Whether it be putting cookies and milk out for Santa, decorating the Christmas tree, or giving gifts; Christmas is a time of togetherness and joyous times. For me, this time gives me the opportunity to find a new hobby or to explore new adventures that will be embarked during my break from the hectic schedules of college. But as always, I plan to bake so as I encounter this holiday season that is about to take place, I am filled with the endless ideas of all the traditional desserts that are often served around this time of year. The holidays honestly are interpreted differently to each individual person but I find that there is this common ground that it is about celebrating love with those you truly care about…those who are special and have endured some of the toughest times with you.

A traditional Christmas dessert is the Yule log cake, also known as the bûche de Noël or Swiss roll, which is an sophisticated creation that consists of a beautiful construction of a filled sponge cake that is delicately rolled and frosted with chocolate buttercream. It is usually designed to look reminiscent of a tree bark. The Yule log cake can be thoroughly decorated with an array of edible decorations such as holly crafted out of marzipan or mushroom shaped meringues. The history of this widely celebrated dessert of the Yule log cake dates back to the European medieval era. In that particular time, the Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would come together to welcome the solstice of winter in the cold December months by feasting in celebration for a lingering amount of days. The cake being shaped to look like a wooden log was in dedication of the meaningful use of wood in these historic times. Wood was viewed as an offering that would be burned and the ashes were valued to protect the inhabitants in terms of guarding them from evil and being used for medicinal purposes.

Image by: Bethel Bakery

Image by: Bethel Bakery

While many bakers have popularized the production of this holiday-themed confection in the 19th century and a variety of bakeries created their own representations of the classic look of the cake. But, nowadays, the Yule log cake has become somewhat obsolete as a Christmas dessert tradition; it has become almost completely replaced by the likes of apple pie and other seasonal baked goods.

So enjoy the holidays with your respective celebrations and comment below on some of your favorite holiday tradition that you partake in.

 

Diary of A Former Nomad: My Story, Part 3 & 4

Happy holidays everyone! As the year comes to an end so too does my story. For those who have been following me and reading each part of my story I hope that it has given you some hope, inspiration, or even gotten you through a day that you thought you couldn’t. Sharing this story was not an easy decision but I know that because of it I have become stronger. I know that I needed to let go of this baggage that I have been carrying around for years in order to be better for the coming years. I hope that you all have a great holiday season and the new year brings you happiness and success!

Here are the final chapters of my story. If you haven’t read yet read the first and second part click the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I returned home to my small battered village, a battered child. My emotions, self esteem and confidence were at an all time low. I returned to parents who seemed somewhat genuine and had flourished during my absence. The house was filled with much more but the stench of pain and sorrows still remained engraved into the walls. My mother was different. She was colder and less nurturing. My father was as before, standoffish and his eyes still had no light. I still remembered arriving home early that morning and being amazed of how monumental the house felt. I had my own room. It was pink and bright and everything I could have hoped for in a room. I had pets too. My life finally seemed to be what I could have imagined it to be. But soon enough the welcome home mat had been removed and it was back to the ways things used to be. My parents fought and pushed me in the middle to choose a side. I told my mother I chose her and my father I chose him. I couldn’t choose and as small as I was, I remembered thinking I shouldn’t have to. I had given up so much for them and yet they couldn’t give up fighting for me. Maybe it was now that I was older and could understand more that the fights seemed worse. Looking back now, I’ve shed more tears with my parents than laughs. They have been the reason for my birth and the death of many of my beliefs, hopes and dreams. As much as they have given me, they have taken away so much more.

 

I lost my innocence the day I saw my mother try to hang herself in our living room from the rafters.

I lost hope for my father the day he slapped me for standing up for my mother then emptied out the cupboards and left us hungry for weeks.

 

I lost faith in God after many more fights and nights of crying myself to sleep after I realized he had made my life this way.

 

I had lost so much but had gained something I never thought I would. I had friends now due to my father’s new and well-known name. People say money can’t buy happiness but in my case, it sure did. After the beatings and the blows I got money, a lot of money. The money did nothing but numb me even more but one good thing came from that money. I never knew her name, but she was about 5 years old. She had no money to buy a Popsicle and without hesitation I bought it for her. I bought it and a smile shined from one end to another on her face. Sometimes I remember this day and think of how much joy I found in that little girl and my ability to help her and my regret for not giving her more. I wonder if she wished she was me and had the ability to buy more and have more. I hope she didn’t. I had nothing or should I say nothing I wanted.

 

Before I knew it, it was time to leave again and a broken family was going to be broken once more. My father couldn’t leave with us and I question if my fight to wait for him meant anything to him both then and now.

When he did get his papers, we all packed up and I wished and prayed in that moment that my new life would be three things: permanent, happy and enough. Enough for my parents, hoping they would be content with whatever we had because we had each other, that we could finally be a family. A family who loved each other and appreciated one another. That I would be more to them than a bargaining tool, I would be someone they were proud of. I would be worth their love and appreciation without having to be someone else but their daughter.

 

I got on that plane and left again. I left behind hardships that children should not have to endure. I hoped to leave behind sorrow and all the pains. I would be living in a new place and no one would know how bad my dad beat my mom and punished us. No one would know of how damaged I was. I would be able to dream, grow and flourish into the person that the creator of the heavens and I knew I would become.

Part 4

This October makes 11 years since I made that wish. I can’t say that it’s been granted. My story has not been an easy one and I don’t think it’ll get easier but it has become one that I could manage. Life is fluid, it doesn’t stay still. It moves, grows, and evolves and by doing so we find ourselves, our purpose, our reason. What has happened in my life doesn’t define me but it’s given me many roads to determine my own purpose and my own reason. I can’t say that I wouldn’t change the things that have happen but I also can’t say that I would change how my life is now. I’ve had to chance to live freer than most people do their entire lives and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. My life, all 22 years has been trying to find the right place and maybe we never do. Maybe we find the best parts of all the better parts of life. Maybe it’s all one big trial and at some point in our lives whether we are aware or not we find that place. I’ll keep searching for mine.

 

Until then, I hope this story, my story; opens yours eyes to seeing that life even in its worst parts it just that. It’s just a bad day, a bad part, a memory. Life is just a trial subscription to many opportunities, many lives, and loves. So live and be open to the possibilities that no matter what happens someday and somehow it gets better.

Tis’ the Holiday Season

Tis’ the Holiday Season. Living in NYC you get to experience the Holiday Season with decorations and snow. Whether it’s going to see the windows on 5th avenue, the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center or going ice skating, there’s always something to do in the city during the Holiday Season.
But i’m here to inform you on something else to do during this season in the city that is FUN and FREE. That is, site seeing the Christmas Lights at Dyker Heights. This previous Saturday I had the opportunity to site see the Christmas Lights at Dyker Heights. It was a different experience. As someone who lives in an apartment building, I am not accustomed to being surrounded by houses decorated from head to toe with lights.
It was beautiful to see the gorgeous lighting on each house but also surprising to hear the amount of money invested in these decorations. Could you believe that people spend $20,000 or more to decorate their homes. But I guess it makes it better is that these homes are worth 10 million dollars or more!
Below are some photos taken when I went along with a link with more details.
https://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/dyker-heights-christmas-lights

Macy’s Holiday Window Display

believe-marqueemacys

As the end of the semester quickly approaches, I pondered with myself how to end this semester of photoblogging with a bang. In light of the holiday season, I decided Herald Square’s Macy’s window display was the best way to close out this memorable year. Their “Believe” campaign started for the Make-a-Wish foundation to give ill children hope with a Christmas miracle in the shape of presents and granted wishes. Over time the “Believe” campaign became more mainstream in the attempt to get all children to believe in the greater good. Especially for Macy’s, Santa has become a symbol of humanity between all races and religions, vying to show kids that regardless of our differences we all deserve to shown respect, kindness, and love in memory of the sincere and selfless Saint Nicholas that we have all come to know and love.

This year’s window display showed the meaning of the Christmas spirit through words of holiday wisdom; it makes people believe again, not only in Santa but in humanity. It starts off with a display labeled “Santa”, kids gravitated toward this display, questioning their parents if their name was on the list. It was heartwarming to see the children converse with each other about Santa, while reassuring each other that every single one of their names were certainly on the list. The second display was titled “Celebrate” which included an interactive pinball machine; not only the kids were drawn to the game, even adults waited in line to have a chance to play. The third display was called “Together” showing that we are all connected and should enjoy the moments we have with friends and family as we fellowship. The fourth, “Giving”, showed an important attribute of the holiday season, the exchange of gifts to show your appreciation for each other. The fifth window titled “Love”, depicts Mr. and Mrs. Clause dancing to a Christmas tune. This display was also interactive since it played music when you touch the glass. The sixth and final display was labeled “Magic” which depicted a half underwater and half above ground utopian scene in which the reindeer came to these magical grounds to frolic and graze; this window exceptionally spread the joy of the wispy and wondrous.

This tradition started in the 1870’s by RH Macy, himself, at the original Macy’s on 14th street. Over one hundred years later we still enjoy this magical creation. It takes two hundred-fifty designers/carpenters/Santa’s little elves to build this masterpiece. It also takes twenty-one days and nights to complete, ultimately gaining over ten thousand viewers during the holiday season.

I would love to thank everyone who read and enjoy my posts; I learn more about New York as you do, as well.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

celebrate-display

Together Display

Together Display

love-display love-marquee celebrate-marquee

Giving Display

Giving Display

Virtues from Motherhood: Shaking guilt

For all of Ava’s life it’s just been her and me. Ava’s dad has never really been involved in her life consistently and it’s never seemed to bother him that he’s missed every single milestone in her life and has little to no bond with her. That alone baffled me, how could you not be apart of a life you created?!

Confusion aside I was hurt and felt guilty, mostly guilty, for bringing Ava into the world with only half her parents to raise her. I never wanted her to be that kid from a broken home and I had hope that he would wake up and realize despite our inability to be together that he should step up and be a father. Sadly, not surprisingly, he chose not to and was completely absent from her life for five years, seeing her once a year and calling her maybe half a dozen times at best. On father’s day or parent’s day at school I always felt such guilt under my proud mom smile. I couldn’t help but notice her looking around at other kids who had both parents there all the time and though she didn’t look too bothered I knew it had crossed her mind. I knew eventually she’d ask why he wasn’t there or why he never answered the phone and I secretly hoped it’d be when she was much older.

Unfortunately my luck ran out when she was 5 and she asked me why her daddy never celebrated her birthday with her (for the record he was present at her first birthday but she doesn’t remember that). I was overwhelmed with panic and sadness and told her that her daddy was busy working but she was too quick for me and asked why her friend Riley’s daddy could work and be at her party. I held back tears when I told her I really didn’t know and that I would always make sure she had the best birthdays in the world.

Now I wasn’t lying I really didn’t know why he couldn’t call or send a card, I was just as confused as she was and at every holiday, school event or special occasion tears would well up in my eyes as the guilt hit me once again. I felt so bad and I didn’t ever want to show her that so I made sure I was at every event, every holiday show, every class party cheering her on twice as hard.

For a while I didn’t share that guilt with anyone I just kept it tucked away and let it gnaw at me silently. I found however that when I did share it with my friends, my family that they were angry or shocked that I felt that way. I was told that what I was doing for Ava was extraordinary that getting my degree and working was all going to give her the best life possible and that I was setting a good example for her, she was being raised by a strong woman. As nice as those things were to hear I still wasn’t convinced until my own mother told me a man being there physically means nothing if he can’t be there emotionally or mentally. I realized she was right, he couldn’t pick up the phone or mail a card, what difference would him standing in front of her blankly do?

I still struggle with this, sometimes I’m sad that she’s got maybe a dozen pictures with her dad in her 7 years of life, other times I’m angry that he’s just going on with his life and doesn’t seem to wonder what she’ll think of him but lately more and more I’m proud, proud of my daughter for being so smart and bright, proud of her for always seeing the bright side and proud of myself for showing her that there is a bright side, you just have to keep looking up.

Academic Self-Discovery: Patricia Bright

a tall woman with long black hair, dressed in black, on a cobblestone street

For me, it is always nice to hear the stories behind how a person has gotten into the career they are in today. It makes me remember that academic-self discovery is also about trial and error. One of my favorite YouTube vloggers is Patricia Bright. Patricia is a UK vlogger whith a YouTube channel that focuses on fashion, beauty and adventure. Yet, what I admire most about her channel is that she also posts videos on her life experinces. She gives advice and shares stories on what she has learned growing up in order to inspire, be an example or teach others. Stories on topics such as college, family, confidence, what she would tell her younger self, her career and more.

On a video titled “My Career & Job Salary Mean Bosses, Being Fired & More”, Patricia talks about all her work experinces- the good and bad- and what she has gained from these experinces. She talks about how her first job was in retail, selling wedding and prom dresses for most of her time at University. However, in her last two years of University she no longer enjoyed working there and decided to quit to do hair. Although doing people’s hair was something she loved and called herself “A livingroom hairstylist”, it was something that she did just to “make a living”. Right out of University, Patricia decided to do an internship in investment banking within technology. Though she did not have a degree technology, she did have one in accounting. This internship had a dinner event for the students applying, so a friend of hers told her to go to network. Patricia went prepared, ready to engage, appeared enthusiastic and had several financial qestions. It is because of her eagerness that the recruiter came to her and talked with her a little more than they did with the other students there.

In this moment in telling this story, Patricia advises her viewers who are looking to do an internship to also network. To go to events that the internship is having and to go there “keen”. Basically, to go there with questions and comments that make you stand out, let people know that you did your research and that you are qualified for the position. Patrica then talks about how her internship was extremely competitive and that she had to take an entrance exam in which she failed because she did not study as much material as she should’ve had. I like that she mentions this because most times I fear the idea of failure yet failing something does not mean it is the end. Due to how memorable she was at the dinner, Patricia got her second chance. The recruiter of the internship told her to come back and take the exam over and this time she passed.

In doing this internship she felt as if she did not fit in. Though she worked really well there, she was the youngest on her team, “was so quiet and awkward”, and was always told that she had to “get out of her shell”. Getting out of her shell was difficult for her because she did not feel confident in herself. Leaving that job she became a consultant. This she said was the hardest job she has ever done because of the long hours spent on doing proposals and how she felt she had no time to actually live her life. However, it is because of her experiences at these jobs that she had people calling her to work at different banks and firms and she ended up getting a call from a bank in Tokyo. At this point in her life she became very confident in herself and her knowledge. Working there, she was always able to bring something to the table and felt that her opinions were valued.

Patricia concludes her video by saying “Everyone starts from somewhere and confidence comes with time.” Despite the job experinces that made her realize they were not for her, she did learn and grow from each. Within time she became more confident in herself and in her work. Some of the key things she feels applies to success in any career is “alot of hardwork, sleepless nights, late nights, [and] applying and teaching [yourself] a lot of things.”

Dia: Beacon

Beacon, New York is one of my favorite places in the country. It’s a little town that quietly lives within the array of mountains that surround the Hudson River. It’s filled with nice artistic pieces, good-tasting food and great people. The Dia: Beacon art museum is a gallery that is home to some of the best contemporary art that dates back to  the 1960s and 1970s. None of the art here is traditional, they all physically use space and light as  subjects of creativity. The architecture of the building and lighting of the rooms are just as important as the artworks themselves, it’s what makes the work unique. For any readers who want to take a trip to Beacon and visit this museum, just take the Metro-North train from Grand Central Terminal up to Beacon, New York. It’s an hour and a half train ride. A round-trip ticket is just over $30, a Dia ticket is $15 ($12 for students), and the experience is priceless.

cars parked on a town street

A street view from Beacon, NY.

silver circles and squares on a hardwood floor

“The Equal Area Series” by Walter De Maria

 

a glowing light stick in an empty room corner

 

 

Glowing light sculpture made of circles in an empty room corner

The two light sculptures are untitled works from an artist named Dan Flavin.

Never Alone

Image by: Katherine

Image by: Katherine

Life itself is so thoroughly engulfed with trials and tribulations that can be extremely difficult to overcome. I feel that at times everyone acts as if participating in the college experience in order to better their academic education will automatically provide them with happiness. Many people seek refuge in their respective religions to bring them peace, and having the knowledge of having a greater power somehow allows them to know that they are not alone. But at times, life seems to throw many curve-balls and can cause us to doubt every single thing that we once were so sure that we believed. This semester has truly been a difficult one for me, it felt as if life had literally taken a hold of me and drowned me into the darkest pit of sadness that you can ever imagine.

I have always been an extrovert and an introvert all at once…sometimes I would socialize and other times I just felt it to be tedious to even maintain a meaningless conversation. But the college experience as well as the struggles in my personal life have completely changed me into someone that I hardly recognize anymore. I want to be better…a better version of myself. One who is truly happy…one who still finds the silver lining in negative situations despite the horrific storms that life has thrown my way. Being a former homeschooler for my entire academic life, I was, unfortunately, the victim of the harsh criticisms and stereotypes that were typically thought about homeschoolers. This only led me to be more reserved and to stay more to myself. As I slowly near the end of my senior year, I feel that I have become more of an introvert as I no longer talk as much. It is as if I have forgotten all the proper social cues or maybe I never truly learned them. I have faced such loss this year and I do not know how to recover. No one prepares you for the fact that attending college does not protect you from the realities of this world. it cannot shield you from the struggles that you will face. There will be times albeit any given time in your life when you want to give up when life begins to take a toll. And that is completely normal, for life itself can be extremely unfair and was never promised to be perfect.

Image by: Sabrina Vasquez

Image by: Sabrina Vasquez

The holidays make this pain even greater as it is a time that is supposed to be spent in this cheerful spirit with friends and family. Still, there may be other difficulties, perhaps there is someone who passed away and will not be with you for the holidays or you have endured so many tribulations that you simply aren’t cheerful. The truth is, we are never alone…whether you believe in a higher power or not. There are so many lives that are surrounding us every single day…people who truly love us regardless of whether they say it or not. Love is not just a feeling; it is an infinite action that is emoted infinitely. Love has no limitations; it is the truest thing on earth when evoked unconditionally. Love is portrayed in acts of kindness and showing the care you have for that particular being albeit a person, pet, hobby, etc. Most importantly, love is selfless which means it is doing what is best not for yourself but for them because in setting them happy makes you happy. Love is often doubted but it is always there even when it goes completely unnoticed. Love is innocent and pure; it cannot fully be described in words for if it was it would have helped to avoid some of the struggles that our nation has faced. Unfortunately, love cannot be taught or learned, love just is. And when you are truly loved then you are never alone.

Comment below on some tough experiences that you have personally faced that have made you feel alone.

Diary of A Former Nomad: My Story, Part 2

Last week I took a huge step in posting my story and I must say that it felt quite liberating. I had spent so much of my time hiding from who I was and all the struggles that I went through that I never took the time to realize that all the pain made me who I am. Each hurdle that I adjusted to and overcame mad me into a stronger, kinder, and patient person I am today. I know many of us see every obstacle as just that but sometimes we all need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Not every day will be filled with frustration. So take your time and realize that theres always a rainbow at the end of every storm no matter how long that storm may seem. So as promised here is the second part to my story: A Trial Subscription to Life. If you missed the first part click the link below to read it. #YouAreNotAlone

Diary of A Former Nomad: My Story, Part 1 

It was warm and sunny day the skies were bluer, the air was crisp and was laced with the scent of salt. The sun seemed brighter– actually all the colors did. An island in the lower region of the Caribbean Sea is where I’d call home for the next two months or so I’d presume. My aunt and I went to live with another one of my mother’s sisters. My aunt was escaping a cold husband and I was being sent away from parents who told me otherwise.

 

I remember very clearly the day I found out the vacation I was told I was going on was a lie. School was starting and I kept wondering when I would be going back home. I was about five or six years old. The day will forever be imprinted on me. I received a uniform and books and was told I would be going to school. No one ever told me I wouldn’t be going home. And to this day no one has ever told me the truth behind this event. It would be years later that I’d figured out the truth that my parent’s separation was the reason I was uprooted. Everyone adjusted to the harsh way of life and no one said a word.

 

After this, the days blurred together–everything blurred together. Days became weeks and weeks became months and before I knew it, a few years had passed. The memories I had of my parents faded. And the person I once was grew colder yet more optimistic daily. I saw my aunts’ husband abuse her with words and knives and left her running for her life. I saw myself dwindle in size and character.

I felt unwelcomed and unwanted. I felt a deep pain within like I was a burden to these people. I had been dropped on their doorstep with a ‘help me’ sign attached. I felt guilt for eating too much, I felt stupid in school because I didn’t know much, and I felt trapped everywhere I went. There was no one on my side. I was bullied for doing the right or wrong. Even in school I was an outcast. I was the poor little beggar girl; I never had money to buy anything. Being maybe 7 and seeing everyone with candy and not having any is literally like being a kid in a candy store and being told that you couldn’t have any. Occasionally asking to try one got me labeled as the beggar. And suddenly I became the outcast. I played by myself. I had few friends but they too never wanted to be seen with me. My cousin who was the only person I knew there would leave me as soon as we got to the gates. I was left behind and left out. Through it all, I somehow never let that powerful sadness consume me, I tried every day. I tried and tried. I ran from bullies, both friend and foe. I tried to remember my life before. I tried to remember my parents, how they felt, how they smelled, even how they talked but it had been too long and I had been gone too long.

 

The years had passed and the vibrant island became washed out and smaller than ever. I was drifting and in the midst of it I felt change in the air and soon enough I was on a plane back to a distant home to start over yet again. Another subscription had expired and it cost me my childhood. I was cold and hurt and lost. I was betrayed and corrupted. But misery loves company and more of this was to come.

Stay tuned for Parts 3 & 4 of my story: A Trial Subscription to Life.