When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Meditating by the sea

One of the greatest challenges, I find, is holding on to hope when things go awry. Moreover, it’s difficult to be patient and understand that while things don’t always make sense as they’re happening, they tend to make sense when we look back.

Last week, I interviewed for my dream job. In short, the position consisted of writing about celebrities, interviewing sources and attending a total of three events per week. While I won’t deny that the description of a hectic schedule briefly took me back to my position at the advertising agency, I felt different this time around, a good kind of different. I’m nearly finalizing my novel, so the timing seemed right. Plus, I saw unlimited possibilities. It could mark the beginning of a journalism career and possibly lead to broadcast journalism. Needless to say, this interview helped me verify what kind of career I want to have.

I walked into that interview determined to give it my all, and I walked out convinced that I had indeed given it my all. I showcased my writing portfolio, an elegant black book containing the pieces I’ve written for LatinTRENDS magazine. I updated my “5 Reasons You Should Hire Me” brochure (utilizing my new brand name) to match the brand’s mission, “5 Reasons I’m The Right Woman For The [Job].” And, lastly, to top it all off, I created two sample posts in the voice of the online publication I was interviewed for. I added images, sources and hyperlinks the same color as the ones used by said publication. When I say I went hardI mean it.

Last night, I received the email, an email I’d expected after the dreams I had the night before.

In my dreams, I almost drowned. Both times the water was pristine. I woke up and googled the meaning of drowning in a dream and discovered that drowning represents obstacles, challenges and tests. If you’re drowning in pristine water, then that’s symbolic of God, faith and spirituality as a whole. I interpreted my dream to mean that I wasn’t going to get the position, that more challenges lie ahead, but that I shouldn’t lose faith. It was a clear reminder that while this is one tough journey, I’m not alone.

I won’t deny that my heart sank when I read the rejection email, because I was, after all, interviewed for my dream job. Still, I trust that what seems right for me now may not be the right thing for me after all. (It’s happened to me before with personal matters.) I trust that there is something better out there for me. I trust that this will help make me an even better, stronger writer. I trust that each step, each bump in the road and in each low in this [career] roller coaster, is God’s steering. I will end up where I’m supposed to be. And so will you. So, if things aren’t going your way, trust that it’s because what lies ahead is even greater than what you’ve envisioned.

Don’t lose hope. Trust the journey. And whatever you do, keep dreaming!

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Women Need To Stop Blaming Other Women

Women

In high school, I had a friend who showed up to her boyfriend’s school on a biweekly basis to confront the women “provoking” her boyfriend. I’m still not sure exactly what she said to those women. All I know is that a few years later, I would come to find out what it feels like to be one of “those” women.

After going through an extremely difficult breakup, I turned to a friend who had recently broken up with his girlfriend. Sometimes he texted me for advice. (It was mind-boggling how little he understood women.) Other times, I texted him for advice. One day, unaware that he was back with his ex-girlfriend, I shot him a text.

His girlfriend, whom I’d met and was fond of, texted me back calling me every name in the book. Little did she know that at one point, her boyfriend was the one who came on to me, and I talked some sense into him.

I wonder if she understands that I wasn’t the problem, but that her boyfriend’s behavior was. It was, after all, a mixture of her boyfriend’s behavior and her own insecurities that led to her making the inaccurate assumption that I was after her man. I wonder if she’s aware that I was just one woman, and that the issue will likely resurface, only with a different woman. Will she confront that woman as well? And the one after that?

A similar concept comes to mind when I hear people (predominantly women) say that a woman doesn’t respect herself solely because said woman chooses to wear revealing clothes. Moreover, I’m perplexed when women say it’s expected for a woman to be disrespected based on her attire, as though one person should be held accountable for the actions of others.

Is it so puzzling to consider that the aforementioned woman actually loves her body (a rarity amongst women) and wears what she wears because it’s what she loves to wear? Is it so insane to consider that just as there are women who like to dress conservatively, there are those who don’t? Are we so accustomed to the cliché depiction of the insecure woman that we no longer recognize confidence? To this point, are we so narrow in our views of what it means to be confident that we’ve lost the ability to view women as individuals, assuming all should fit a particular mold in order to be considered confident?

Isn’t it time we start holding men accountable for their own actions? Isn’t this part of the reason feminism exists today? Men walk around shirtless all the time, and comparatively speaking, women seldom make inappropriate comments. If we do, we are reproached for “not valuing ourselves.” Yet, when a man does the same, the woman is to blame? Really? If we are to cover up the parts of our bodies we are most fond of so as to not “provoke” men, should we also cover up our feet so as to not “provoke” those with foot fetishes? What other parts of our bodies will we then go on to cover?

Truth is, the perception men have of women is skewed, but the perception women have of each other, I dare say, is even worse. What would happen if each time a man called a woman a slut, another woman stepped in and said, “You don’t know her story. Don’t judge her.”? Clearly, this is not what happens on a regular basis, because most of the time women belittle each other in order to feel better about themselves.

There is no greater critic of women than women, and this needs to change.

When I see Katy Perry showing off cleavage in a music video, Beyoncé shaking her bootylicious bottom, Shakira gyrating her hips, Jennifer Lopez showing off her toned abs and female fitness trainers drawing attention to their thick thighs, I am aware that these women are sexy, yet I don’t feel threatened by them, or any other women who flaunt what they have. On the contrary, I applaud them for doing what isn’t easy to do, and that is remaining true to themselves. After all, sexiness and intelligence need not be exclusive.

Women need to stop blaming other women for their own securities. Women need to stop making assumptions about other women, judging other women and attacking other women. Have we not enough odds stacked against us as is? Imagine how much we could accomplish if we opened up our minds and our hearts, and supported one another.

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If You’re Thinking About Writing A Novel

Writing A Novel

If you’re thinking about writing a novel, there are a few things you should know…

Writing a novel is emotionally taxing. Your senses are heightened, and your perspective changes. Every exchange – from meeting new people to engaging in a disagreement – becomes potential writing material. As you write, you’ll end up connecting with the characters you create (since we tend to write about what we’ve experienced). You may go back in time and dwell on unpleasant experiences, but don’t worry. It’ll pass. What better way to bring characters to life than to feel what they feel? The best writing is writing with emotion.

No amount of time is enough time. Rushing the process serves no purpose. You’ll just end up regretting and deleting the chapter you wrote on a whim (or you’ll end up writing an incredible chapter). Sometimes you’ll have to step back for a day or two in order to gain a clear sense of where you’d like to take the story. Oh, and there will be days you fully dedicate to your novel, only to feel like: Wow! Twelve hours and this is all I completed?

Completing the first draft marks the beginning of the journey. You know this when you start writing, but it’s easy to overlook this point when your manuscript is almost done. There’s still a lot of work left before you hold your book. While you write, do some research, too. Start considering agents. The 2014 Writer’s Market is a great tool for this.

Writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster sprinkled with lapses of doubt. There will be days when you don’t feel like writing, probably because you doubt your work. Ignore the voice that likes to linger disguised as common sense and write on!

What do you perceive as the most challenging aspect of writing a novel?

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Dear Men

Dear Men

Dear men,

There are a few misconceptions I’d like to clear up. They are misconceptions I’ve heard growing up (and the other day inside a cab). They are misconceptions that make my stomach churn because they are full of ignorance. They are misconceptions many, if not all, women identify with. They are misconceptions that need to be addressed.

1. Not every woman who sleeps with a guy shortly after meeting him has lost her self-respect. Just as you have the “right” to explore your sexuality, we do, too. Don’t judge the woman who’s giving the guy she just met a chance. She may have followed every “rule” in the past (get to know him, wait this long to have sex, meet the family), only to have her heart broken. Following a specific path doesn’t guarantee anything. Therefore, the best thing a woman can do is be true to herself.

2. We don’t fight because we’re moody. Stop blaming the hormones. One: PMS is not a month-long event. Two: You tend to be moody, too – except without a valid reason. Three: If we’re upset, there’s a reason.

3. If we’re mad at you, it’s for a reason. If you lack sympathy, reconsider getting into a relationship. How would you feel if you were to book reservations for an anniversary dinner and she were to forget? Wouldn’t you be upset if she constantly forgot the same thing (demonstrating inattentiveness and possibly how little she cares about you)? How would you feel if she hid something from you?

4. Telling her she looks beautiful will not make her cocky. Every women wants to feel wanted. Sure she’ll get plenty of compliments when she walks out the door, but I assure you, it’s your compliment she treasures most. Don’t be too proud to let your lady know she still turns you on…even after so many years! Don’t get so comfortable you forget to show her how much she means to you.

5. Women don’t always need to be right. In fact, it’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about understanding each other and learning from previous mistakes. After all, we’re not perfect…and neither are you.

What’s one misconception men have about women that you’d like to clear up?

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Dreams Shape Our Lives

Dreams

I’ve been contemplating the ways in which our dreams shape our lives. Whenever I reread chapters of my almost completed (can’t wait!) novel, I’m taken aback; I can’t believe those words came from me. I’m certain God is writing this book with me, just as I believe He has a say in our talents. I could’ve been anything else in the world…and yet I’m a writer. For as many times as I’ve complained about not having it all figured out, I now realize that to know what you love and to know your dream is as close to figuring things out as it gets. And to possess a talent, a passion that makes a difference in the lives of others is just…a blessing.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed at Toyota, and decided against taking a sales position there because amongst other things, it dawned on me as I was being interviewed that I wanted desperately to return to my career. While I’m no longer opposed to the idea of working at an advertising agency (because I’ve learned not all are alike in their structure), or working in public relations (I’m still fond of it and appreciative of what it’s done for my brand), I’ve realized that the one thing I’m absolutely sure I want to do on a constant basis, maybe because I know with certainty I won’t get tired of it, or because it has always been my passion…is to write. (Makes sense given my brand name. Ha!)

Sometimes I think it’s no coincidence the world is round, since it seems that that’s exactly how life works. We often take turns here and there only to end up where we began (if it’s where we belong) but with a different perspective. I’ve acquired a clearer sense of what I want. I still want to travel and get paid to write about it (whatever that looks like), but I also want to work at a major magazine. You know what would be amazing? If the universe conspired and somehow united all of my passions. Something tells me it’s only a matter of time

Has your journey helped you realize what you truly want?

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Social Media Has Screwed Up Dating

Dating Social Media

If you know me well, you know I like social media, especially Twitter. November of last year, I was, according to some, “very brave” for traveling to London on my own, but truth is, to me, it doesn’t count as traveling alone if there’s someone waiting on the other side. I’d never been to London, nor had I ever physically met anyone from London, yet I had friends in London thanks to Twitter. Because of my public relations and advertising background, I’ve connected with many professionals on social media. That’s how I met Leanne Barton and Jazz Chappell, two PR girls from London.

The other day, my Mac Book Pro completely froze for the first time. I almost panicked, until I remembered I’d been constantly saving the latest version of my novel on my USB. Phew! I pulled out my phone and started googling solutions. For the most part, that’s how I solve technical problems, but not this time. All posts pertaining to a frozen Mac only addressed the issue of frozen apps. So, I did what a critical thinker does. I turned to Twitter and sent out this tweet: Any of you know how to reboot a Mac? Yes? No? Maybe? Within minutes, my friends (and heroes!) Lisa DiWinkeleer and Meagan Fraser chimed in and saved the day. (If your Mac ever freezes, just hold the power button for a long, long time.)

Days before the Mac dilemma, I faced another kind of dilemma. I was at a major crossroads pertaining to my career. I turned to my friend Kayla Hollatz (who just rebranded!) for advice. Why? The girl’s a full-time creative with an array of interests. In short, she gets me.

Moreover, Twitter is how I met one of my closest friends, Danni (who moved to California to follow her dreams); it’s how I ended up having a heart-to-heart email conversation with Rebecca Potzner from Cincinnati (the girl’s proud of her city); and it’s one of the reasons my relationship with my fashion-obsessed sister Gidelvia has evolved (We discuss career moves more than we did before Twitter.). I’m grateful for social media, as there are many other examples I can’t fit into a single post.

Yet, I can’t help but look around and acknowledge that while social media can be great for networking and building friendships, it’s not always great for socializing and dating. The other day, I said to my friend, Sex and the City makes it seem incredibly easy to meet a guy you’re interested in. My friend smirked and said, “Well, it used to be easier before social media.” She said that even meeting someone on the train is harder now, because we’re all distracted by tweets, texts, and games. Running into someone was as simple as bumping into them outside, but now we’re more likely to walk around facing down, at a screen. 

If you think back, I bet you can pinpoint a time when you were hanging out with a friend and s/he was profoundly distracted by someone’s mundane post on Facebook, a scandalous tweet, or an inappropriate Instagram post. Other times, people are so distracted posting on social media that they forget to live in the moment. They’re with you physically, but their thoughts are elsewhere. Truth is, if you think carefully, even you may be guilty of this. Still, I think it’s important to take a break. Enjoy now. Post later. After all, the most mesmerizing moments are impossible to capture.

Has social media positively or negatively affected your dating life?

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About My Novel

Novel

I started working on my novel in January, and I’ve yet to complete it. I set an insane goal to finish the first draft by the end of June, but despite dedicating extensive time to my novel, there simply was no rushing the process. At one point, I went back and deleted two chapters because they didn’t feel write.

There are times when I’ll spend an entire day writing my novel, and that day will easily turn into two or three, sometimes even more. But there are other times when I need to step back, reexamine what I’ve already written, and then return to my work.

It is for this reason that when people ask me, “What is your novel about?” I stay mum. Sure, I love the idea of building suspense. It makes me even more excited about my work, but what it really boils down to is this: I know the story I want to tell, but I don’t know how my characters will change along the way. Hence, I don’t know exactly what my novel will look like. Keeping it a mystery gives me the freedom to tweak things without the risk of anyone saying, “Hey. That’s not what you said you were going to do.”

There’s a lot involved with writing a novel. For one, I’m always reading, not that I wasn’t before. But now, I read differently. I’m looking closely at the construction of sentences, at the tense used, and the author’s tonality. (It’s amazing how two authors can aim to accomplish something similar, and yet you are more drawn to one than you are to the other.) In addition to reading more, introspection is a given. I’m more in tune with my own emotions, with the conversations that unfold around me, and with other people’s problems. I am no psychologist, but then again, to be a writer, you kind of have to be.

While I didn’t complete my novel by its deadline, I’m glad I set a deadline. I’m closer to completing it because of that deadline. However, I have always preferred quality over quantity, so I’d rather take my time writing a novel I’m confident about – even if takes a few more months to complete than I anticipated – than rushing to complete something I’m skeptical about.

As elated as envisioning my first book signing makes me, I’m aware that the best things in life truly are worth waiting for. In the long run, finishing the novel only marks the beginning of an often grueling process. The more confident I am about what I produce, the better I’ll be at pitching it. However long that takes, I’m extremely grateful to have you join me on this journey.

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Which Artist Would You Like To Date?

Dating

Is it important for you that the person you’re dating is aware of your work? I mean more so than the bland “I support you.”

One of the complexities of dating is that there is no clearcut formula for what will result in a “good match.” I don’t fully agree with the idea that opposites attract. Sure, there may be attraction at first, but I doubt the connection will remain intact. After all, we are drawn to that with which we can relate. That’s the reason we listen to the music we listen to, and read the books we read. Something about each particular art form draws us in. So, then, what about a person – besides physical appearance – keeps you on your toes? For me, it has a lot to do with personality and what that person likes to do.

Which of the following artists do you think would be the most fun to date? Why?

a) An author

b) A musician

c) A painter

d) A photographer

Some people answered with a mixture of two. Others knew exactly the type of artist they’d like to date. As a writer, I think it’d be fun to exchange ideas, to give and receive feedback from another writer. But it would also be fun to witness the creative process of a musician, or how a photographer goes about deciding on how to capture an image. Regardless of what the art form is, I am drawn to artists, mostly because I’ve never dated one. There’s a part of me that would love to pick someone else’s brain, although I know I don’t necessarily have to date the person to do just that.

If you could date someone based on their profession, which profession would you pick? Why?

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The Most Exciting Aspect Of Being Single

Single Woman

You’ve probably heard it a few times, but how often do people truly mean it when they say: I love being single? I’d argue not often enough.

I’ve always believed that it’s best to give yourself a break after a relationship. Why? We’re humans. We don’t just leave our baggage behind. We tend to carry it with us (at least at first). By this, I mean that more often than not, we leave a relationship behind, but the feelings still abide. This doesn’t necessarily mean you still have feelings for the person you were with, but you likely have feelings regarding that relationship. You may be feeling sad, angry, resentful, hopeless, relieved, or a combination of all. It’s impossible to tell right away. Moreover, it’s impossible to grasp everything you’ve learned at once. Therefore, if you consider these things, it makes sense to give yourself some time.

While some people dread that time alone, I’ve rejoiced in it. I truly, deeply, and profoundly LOVE being single. There, I said it. I was in a serious relationship for about five years (not sure it technically adds up to that much, since it was the most unstable thing I’ve ever been a part of). Still, that relationship taught me more things than I can sum up in a single post. Heck, I’m not even sure I can quite sum up in any amount of words what I’ve learned. But after some time, because I gave myself some time, some of the emotions I felt at first peeled away, and now, I’m left with a sense of gratitude (for having been in a relationship for almost five years, and not what could’ve easily been ten), relief (I no longer have to stress someone else’s timeline of what my life should look like), peace (I’ve delved into more of the things I love), and the most exciting aspect – the possibility of a new beginning.

During my time alone, I’ve gotten to know myself in ways I didn’t know myself before. I am empowered by my solitude. So much so, that I believe you should learn to thoroughly enjoy your own company before you invite anyone to join you.

I used to refer to relationships as books – believing that the ugly ending of one should be dismissed as though it never happened, sort of how we forget a book we dislike – until my mother and life corrected me. A relationship’s end doesn’t mark the closing of a book; it marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. And we all know how exciting it is to turn that page!

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When The Things That Once Fulfilled You Don’t Fulfill You Anymore

Dancing

I used to wonder how people’s taste (in partner, in clothing, in everything) changed as they aged. At one point, I couldn’t imagine myself not enjoying the things I enjoyed at the moment. I couldn’t fathom the thought that one day I’d feel “too old” for something. But lately, I’ve been catching a glimpse of how we (or at least most of us) evolve. It’s not a sudden jolt that wakes you up and makes you say, “Ah. I’m too old for this.” It’s more of a realization that whatever it is you once enjoyed just isn’t fulfilling you the way it once did.

When I would hear friends claim that they no longer enjoyed clubbing, I used to think they had decided to make themselves appear old and boring. Were they trying to seem more interesting by hinting towards something more profound? I wasn’t sure. They never expanded much on the topic besides saying, “That just isn’t my scene anymore.”

I’ve recently acquired a clearer sense of what my friends meant by that. I love partying, especially when it’s with close friends and/or family. It’s a great way to unwind, leave all troubles behind, and truly live in the moment. But I dislike the culture that resides within clubs. I dislike that men approach women as though we’re objects, instead of humans. This weekend, my cabbie revealed that he once overheard a male passenger’s phone conversation, and it went something like this: “I’m heading to [insert club name], and I’m trying to see if I can snack on something tonight, because I’ve been dry for two weeks. I’m just trying to get a chick to go home with me.” Now, granted, sleazy men are everywhere, but it’s obvious they’re abundant in clubs.

To this point, yes, I still love to party, but no, not as much as I once did. I feel the most content when I am doing something that enriches me. When I envision myself traveling, sure I want to experience the nightlife, but it’s the thought of exploring distant places, meeting new, intelligent people, and learning about their culture that truly excites me. Some might say I’m getting old. I feel I’m getting wiser.

Which kinds of experiences do you find fulfilling?

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