May 26 2007

10 years ago today I was being surprised by my family as I walked down to take my seat at graduation. They stood – blow horns and all – spelling out my name in the stadium crowd each with a letter on their shirt. I got extra tickets for the ceremony for “my brother’s girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend” who turned out to be another amazing surprise – my favorite cousins all the way from Mexico.

The week leading up to graduation my friends and I set out to go out every night. Each place was picked for the significance (drink special) it had on a specific week day. We completed the task knowing we would never return to these college bars.

Since my house was next to campus, all our families and friends gathered there the morning of graduation, drinking champagne and taking pictures. Then everything happened so quickly. I tripped on stage getting my diploma, went sight seeing all around town with my family, ate endless amounts of foods, sang along at a piano bar – went out one last time and woke up on my air mattress needing to pack up and move out. I fit as much stuff as I could into my friend’s family’s van, then we drove to meet my family for one last meal together at our favorite burrito spot – and we were off. The next day I was on a plane to Europe.

My life has been non stop ever since – in 10 years I’ve traveled to more than 24 countries, worked for one of the most prestigious hotel groups in the world, lived alone in a beautiful downtown studio in San Francisco, backpacked the world for almost a year, managed a night club, became an aunt, paid off all my student loans becoming completely debt free, gave back and paid it forward, ran a couple of marathons, got engaged to the love of my life and stayed close to my family throughout.

That was fun! Thankful for the past 10 years.

graduationweek (353)

graduationweek-779.jpg

graduationweek (899)

graduationweek-819.jpggraduationweek (864)graduationweek

Lunares

My nieces tiny hands love to make their way around my face, neck and décolletage so she can try to pull my moles off. Sometime she tricks me into lifting her up, thinking she wants hugs – to then be quickly attacked. This is a habit her brother has caught on to quickly. I had never been more aware of how many moles I had until those two were born. They don’t have moles, so they’re fascinated by mine. One in particular on my clavical; my niece is relentless with. Mole is such an ugly word, in Spanish they’re called “lunares.”

One of the many words I find far more beautiful in Spanish than in English.

I have memories of singing a famous Mexican love song with my grandparents as a child about a “lunar” next to a lovers lips. I sang parts of this song to my niece when she was a baby, and when I sing it now she smiles with a recognizing look, but refuses to sing along to even the very easy part of the chorus.

So thankful for my niece and nephew turning the dots on my body into a reminder of love love love.

52 Books

I’ve always been a reader. I have memories as a child of loving a book about a pie that rolled out the window while it was cooling, and just kept rolling and rolling. I read it before I could actually read – from memory of it being read to me so many times. I then read it to anyone who would listen, over and over.

I assume the same of any reader, but to me growing up,  reading was a way to pass the time. While my family worked at my grandparents commercial laundromat I read about an elf in stripes. As a bored teenager I read dozens of Babysitters Club books and set out to start my own babysitting club.

I never measured my reading, and after High School and College without assigned books I would go months without reading, and then pick up a book here and there. in 2012 I decided to start a measured goal of reading 12 books a year, one book a month. I reached my goal in 2012, 2013 and 2015 (most years reading more than the 12).

I noticed through the years I got much faster at reading – a mixture of that, and rushing to avoid a late library fee that found me reading 4 books in January of 2016. I began to wonder if I could keep this up for an entire year. 52 books? I set out to try. I didn’t reach 52, but I came close. I am beyond proud, I read 4 times as much as any year before and learned so much. It was a year of so much growing, and traveling through all the stories I read.

Here is what I read in 2016 (Each book is linked for your convenience) :

1. The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

2. Life Is So Good by George Dawson

3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

4. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

5. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou

6. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

7. Millenials@Work by Chip Espinoza

8. Born Free by Joy Adamson

9. A Song Flung Up to Heaven by Maya Angelou

10. Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloe Kardashian

11. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

12. Just Kids by Patti Smith

13. Cravings by Chrissy Teigen

14. What Are You Hungry For? by Deepak Chopra

15. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

16. How to Estimate With Rsmeans by Saleh A. Mubarak

17. Spinster by Kate Bolick

18. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

19. Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik

20. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

21. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

22. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

23. The Body Book by Cameron Diaz

24. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor

25. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

26. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose by The Oprah Magazine

27. The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People by David Niven

28. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

29. The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz

30. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Elizabeth Gilbert

31. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

32. Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

33. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

34. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

35. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz

36. Dr. Kellyann’s Bone Broth Diet by Kellyann Petrucci

37. Balancing in Heels by Kristin Cavallari

38. The Signature  of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

39. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

40. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

41. Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi

42. The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

43. The 13th Disciple by Deepak Chopra

44. Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi

45. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

46. Marley and Me by John Grogan

47. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (My second time reading this)

48. The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder

49. The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

50. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

51. Commonwealth by Ann Patchet

Books I started in 2016 but haven’t finished:

  1. The Alchemist by Paul Coelho (My second time reading this)
  2. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  3. How Not To Die by Michael Greger
  4. I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown

Audio Books I listened to:

  1. I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan
  2. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon
  3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman

To more traveling through reading in 2017!

Love is.

morningThe sound of a tiny sleepy yell of “Tia?!” – searching the room until discovering us in a mess of pillows next to the bed. Laying together in our PJs watching cartoons and laughing out loud when “baby brother” makes drool infused noises to get our attention.

Happy Valentine’s Day tiny beans.

Christmas.

christmas

My favorite memories from Christmas as a child are:

  • Always being given the turkey leg because I was the youngest.
  • Putting the baby Jesus in the nativity scene at midnight.
  • The grandma and grandpa barbies my grandparents got me. The giant box had a grandma Barbie, a grandpa Ken, a girl and a boy, I think the girl would be “Kelly.” Back then at least, “Skipper” was a teenage barbie, but “Kelly” was the younger one. It also came with McDonald’s mini happy meals and birthday hats. I loved McDonald’s back then as well, so this was the most epic Christmas gift I could receive.
  • Random people at Christmas. I didn’t realize this until I got older, but I remember people’s friends (of my Mom’s, or my Aunt’s  ETC.) coming to Christmas dinner last minute. My Grandma or my Mom looking through their gifts before everyone arrived to see what they could re-gift to this last minute guest. Now that I’m older I realize whatever the reason this last minute guest was with us probably meant a sad or unpleasant family situation. My family never wanted anyone to go without at least having a gift to open. The effort I saw as a child to put something together for others means everything to me now.
  • My grandmother’s decorations. Besides speaking several languages, having birthed 7 children, being a great cook, a world traveler and being and staying truly in love with my grandfather since they were teenagers, my grandmother was an incredible artist. She could paint, draw, sew, knit, you name it. She made things for us until the moment she died, beautiful dolls, quilts, clothing – but my favorite were her decorations. Not store bought, hand made with such intricate details. My absolute favorite was a toilet seat cover with Santa on the top, and when you open the lid to use the toilet, Santa is on the inside part but with his hands over his eyes.
  • My grandpa’s mini foods. I still love anything mini, I remember one Christmas specifically my grandpa making mini sopes, one of my favorite food’s in miniature. They were so cute, and so delicious.
  • Making the holiday menu. I didn’t help much with cooking as a child, but I was always on menu duties. My grandpa or my mom would write out what the holiday menu was going to be on a note pad and I would create  one for each person, on nice paper, with fancy colorful pens. They were then carefully placed on each person’s table setting.
  • Three Kings Day! I’ve never been into Santa, but the much less talked about or celebrated 3 Kings have always been my thing. I loved keeping our Christmas tree up until after January 6th, cleaning my shoes and waking up to one last gift for the holidays. Then the best part, eating the “Rosca de Reyes” and waiting to see who got a plastic baby in their slice. In 2012 my grandmother saved me a piece of “Rosca” in her freezer so I could eat it the next time I visited. I got to eat it when I visited for the 80th birthday that same year.

M & I have a tradition of doing non tangible gifts for Christmas, experiences or events. This year we gave each other a trip to New York City. We’ve both been there, but never during Christmas time when the whole city is decked out in Christmas lights!

0819af09-07ed-4fce-aea8-fbd419651950

One of my favorite nights we walked through Bryant Park to people watch. The Song ‘Christmas’ (Baby Please Come Home) was playing loudly, there was a giant tree, lights and people everywhere. We watched the ice skaters and spotted several little children learning to ice skate by holding and pushing to giant penguins for support. It was such a cute, simple, Christmas time moment.

 

At 230 Fifth – a rooftop bar with front row view of the Empire State Building, we tried to stay warm with their hot spiked drinks. One which inspired our much better version of their  Vodka Peppermint Hot Chocolate, with M’s homemade honey, vanilla & cinnamon whipped cream – which was a huge hit with my family on Christmas eve.

The end.

THANK YOU

Of course without a doubt my biggest blessing is love. My loved ones are what drive my entire life. Of course I am beyond thankful for my health.  I don’t take it for granted every day my body allows me to walk around and explore. For those things I am eternally grateful.

It’s all the other every day details I want to focus on today:

  • when everyone at work compliments my outfit and I’m like “I know right”
  • when my uncle what’s app’s me with a never before seen picture of my mom when she was 18
  • lunch specials
  • when the perfect song comes on during a long run
  • when my 4 month old nephew smiles at me – he stares right at me, uninterested by anything or anyone else and just smiles right at me
  • when I have leftovers to eat for lunch and they taste better than the night before
  • when my 2 year old niece holds my hand all on her own, not when I ask to so we can cross the street, but when we’re just playing or walking and she reaches up to my hand casually, gets me every time
  • when I park at the roof of my apartment building and I’m just in time to watch to watch the sunset
  • when someone leaves a gift for me on my desk at work
  • leaving work early and hitting all the green lights
  • making spring rolls with my family and eating as many as possible, I personally call mine spring burritos because I always add too many toppings!
  • breakfast in bed
  • when my aunt, who doesn’t know how to use Facebook, and uses my uncle’s account because she locked herself out of hers – tries to message me by commenting on my pictures. I once posted a picture and quote from the Shining and she wrote in all caps “QUIEN ES DANNY???” (who is Danny)
  • when we’re both on board with ordering pizza delivery
  • when you quote Mean Girls in real life or in social media and people STILL get it and think it’s funny, it will never get old, ever, and it will always make me smile
  • when I say something funny at work and everyone laughs, this is my fuel
  • when I get good service, especially at a restaurant, it makes my meal perfect
  • when I ask someone at work how they are, and they don’t answer because they’re too self involved but I end up telling myself I didn’t want to know anyway – THEN someone else walks by and asks what I’m laughing at

70f9972f-ce32-4c4a-8a58-fd2878ed7698