Tag Archives: advice

Is Food an Anchor, or a mode of Transportation?

As I mentioned in a previous post, Millennials are the most global generation in history thus far. Many of us live far away from where we were born, many of us have an insatiable hunger to get to know the world that surrounds us; and for the times we can’t physically travel to a location, there is something we can use in order to take an instantaneous journey: food.

As I’m sure travelers from all generations will agree, food can be perennial to a location or a particular culture, it really doesn’t matter where one takes that bite; you can instantly be transported to wherever you associate the meal to be from originally. There is nothing quite like food to get your senses to transport your mind to another culture, or place. Especially if taken the time to enjoy and flavor Every. Single. Bite.

Close your eyes and have a slice of the best pizza in town. Let your imagination transport you to the streets of Naples. Overlook the navy blue water at the Mare Lungo while you are there. Have a bite of crepe with a touch of sugar and a cafe au lait; and imagine yourself in a street side cafe in Paris, just about to go for a walk in the Champs-Élysées.

Just as it can transport you, food can also be a delicious reminder of your roots. An anchor in the best sense of the word.

My anchor keeps me from straying too far from my home. An anchor that with every bite, reminds me of a simpler and more carefree time where I would jump out of bed to run to the breakfast table to have a meal with my family.

My anchor is the arepa, what Venezuelans call home; and with every bite, no matter my location, I suddenly find myself back in Caracas, having breakfast, overlooking the hills of the Avila mountain, and feeling that warm caribbean breeze.

What food transports you to a different place? Would love to know! Comment below, or contact me!

Cheers,

Traveling at 15, a better version of the Quinceañera?

Every place has a different rite of passage, whether its a simple thing like your first drink, your first date, prom, or a more elaborate moment like a debutante’s ball, or a Quinceañera party.  Many of us go through different rites of passage, and they all have different effects, different weights on our soul, mind, and heart; but for many of us, there is none quite as powerful as our first trip abroad.

“People don’t take trips, trips take people” – Anonymous

If we are open to it, even a short term trip can change our perspective. Change who we are; push our limits and drive us to discover new horizons. It’s no wonder many people feel the need to travel to “find themselves.”

It is tradition in many Latin American countries to have a Quinceañera or “Fiesta de Quince Años,” when a girl turns fifteen. Historically speaking, turning fifteen meant a girl became a young woman. She was not a child anymore, and she could be presented to society; which in many cases meant she was ready for marriage. Of course, even though the meaning has changed over time, the celebration remains. For over half a century, there is another form of celebration that takes place not in the shape of a party, but of an excursion.

The tradition (if we can call it that) has been embraced quickly enough that most girls in the position to take the trip, choose to travel with new and old friends and neglect the party altogether.

Many consider summer to be a time for freedom and discovery (myself included). There’s no better time to open your mind, and experience a different culture. The travel companies which organize these tours focus on having the girls (and most recently boys too) truly experience the countries visited. Not only through museums and monuments, but through history, food, and their ways of enjoying life.

In fact, this was a personal experience as well. Both my mom and I chose to not have the party when we turned fifteen; and instead, went on a trip for a month around different European cities, with other like minded girls.

There was a lot of time spent sitting on buses, hearing our tour guide explain the history of the place we were visiting. Some of the times we would even listen. Others we just dreamily looked out the window and hoped for an exciting adventure to come our way. We visited over 10 countries, most of which was traveled on the tour bus. Some of us had our first kiss with a Scottish guy in a club in Florence while dancing to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” song (some of us never even knew his name). Others experienced moments of solitude in a foreign land where no one spoke our language. We made friends. Got into fights. Lost weight as a result of walking around emblematic European cities (despite the fact of eating our weight in chocolate, bread, and pizza). And made unexpected connections with people of completely different cultures.

For most girls taking the trip, it’s the first experience traveling abroad without a family member to guide their actions. Even though the travel companies (like Protocolo) provide chaperones, it is a new found freedom which encourages a new outlook in life. Many of us came back with higher expectations for our lives. Desire for deeper meaning, and to one day go back and widen the experience even further.

For generations, this trips have been shaping the vision of many young women who, over the course of a summer, become more independent, open-minded, cultured, and excited for life. No longer do they see the world through the lens of their hometown or through their family’s protection. As Mark Twain said best, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness…”

Any interesting experiences you’d like to share? Would love to hear about it! Comment, contact me, or share!

Cheers!

Some travel resources:

HotwireKayakLast MinuteOrbitzPricelineTravelocitySeatGuru

What Is It We Are Supposed To Do?

On my last post I talked about working less. Working intelligently. About making sure that our life is not centered around the idea that we have to feel busy to be fulfilled. That we need time to create. Time to be. Time to connect with the people in our lives. That being busy should not be a badge of honor. That being busy is not synonym to success.

That is all true. Something that nags at all of us at some point in our lives is not necessarily that we are busy doing something; but when we are going to be busy, what shall we be doing?

I have friends that found their passion, their life’s purpose when they were young and they have been fortunate not to change their minds. That is not my case. That is not most people’s case. 

A lot of us constantly question our choices. Decide a career or major isn’t for us. Then we ask, but which one is it? Then comes some type of fear. We fear choosing the wrong one. So we create a quiet turmoil in our heads. We go through the motions every day but we wonder. Is this really for me? Is that for me? What if I don’t like that if I leave this?

The truth is we can’t think our way to our purpose. We have to try things. We have to do. Do our way into our purpose. And for many of us who have many interests, we also have to come to peace with the idea that perhaps there isn’t just ONE THING we are supposed to do. We need to let go of that.

Our 20s is a time for self-discovery and reflection; but also for action. I realized recently that no matter how many books I read, or how many people I talk to. I cannot reflect my way into what it is that I really will love doing. I have to do. Identify something that seems interesting and work at it. Perhaps some passion will develop and it will lead to something else. Perhaps I will just learn what it is I don’t want. 

Identify those things and go do them. Then you will slowly find your way.

Resolution: Aiming To Do Less

As we come into a New Year, many of us (yes, myself included), are mapping out our goals for 2018. Getting ready to make this year bigger and better. For a lot of people – especially in the country that has been my home for the last few years – this means to enter, or continue in the “culture of Hustling” as Morris Berman refers to it. These days, millions of people glorify sleeplessness and the constant state of being busy.

As a girl in my mid-twenties (scary times), I agree that “grinding” or “hustling’ to create a life and career you love is something valuable and sometimes necessary. 

But don’t just hustle for the sake of it. Don’t stay busy just to brag about having no free time. We are not here to work to work to work to die.

One piece of advice that I think Arianna Huffington would agree with: when you wake up in the morning, don’t immediately look at your phone or computer. Put yourself in a state of creation and not reaction.

I have lived in a couple of different countries outside of the US. Those countries being Switzerland, Italy and Venezuela. When living in Europe, I noticed there is a shift in my priorities. Only a shift. I was more focused on my happiness than my monetary success while living in Europe; especially in Italy. I am talking everyday happiness. Where I enjoy the present moment. The slice of pizza, the morning cappuccino. 

There is definitely value on the hustle; but I believe it should be used as a springboard to success, not a constant for success. Not success itself.

Because hustle, hustle, hustle, eventually gets you burn out. Good hustle is that which feels like an adventure to enjoy. I guess the takeaway is; if you are building something, in which “hustling” is required, work intelligently. Get help where you need it, delegate. Get some rest and reset your mind constantly.There is no real glory in a busy life with no real rewards outside of the work.

Olive Oil, and the Paradox of Choice

Picture yourself in a grand supermarket. Filled with options; in what seems like hundreds of aisles. Dozens of different options of olive oil imported from Southern Italy. Virgin, extra-virgin, with truffle, light, cold-pressed, stone milled, organic… It really is spectacular. And just like the options in olive oil there are dozens of different types of bread, crackers, chocolate bars, cereals. Sounds great right? You almost want to take a picture…and maybe you do.

Now what? You are in a supermarket, you probably didn’t come here with the purpose of a sightseeing trip. You are there to buy your groceries and leave. Buy what you need. Shouldn’t take too much thought. Suddenly you find yourself overwhelmed with possibilities. Which olive oil do you choose? Which loaf of bread? Do you just grab one without a second thought? Do you look at the price? Calories? Amount of sodium? Do you just stare in quiet desperation while your brain slowly explodes? These are all possibilities.

Even though this could be a totally realistic post about the experience of going to a hyper-supermarket; I am only illustrating the Paradox of Choice. Which exists in many aspects of our lives. From going grocery shopping, to picking a movie on Netflix, to the even scarier life decision of picking a career.

We think having a infinite amount of choices is great. And yes, it is, for a short while. Until we get to the point in our life where we can’t make a decision. Or we avoid making one with the expectation something better might come along. Keeping our options open. Forever…

The reality is that the more options we are given, the less satisfied we are going to feel with whatever we choose. And no, this isn’t just me saying this; there are several studies that back this claim. This could mean that after a choice is made, you could spend years second-guessing yourself. Did you make the right choice? As I mentioned before, many of us simply resort to not making any type of choice at all. We keep our options open by avoiding any type of commitment. This can be true in both our careers and our personal lives.

Should I go into marketing? Or should I be a writer? Or maybe an actress? Maybe I could be a speaker. The list goes on…

The truth is, as Mark Manson puts it: pursuing a breadth of experience denies us the opportunity to experience the rewards of depth of experience. The truth is, commitment to a choice can give you even more freedom than you imagine because you are no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Making a choice hones your attention and focus, as you are directed to be more efficient at what actually makes you healthy and happy. And achieve even more success.

The rejection of alternatives can feel quite liberating, you just have to understand the benefits and step away from the all the marketing hype and the shiny objects that will distract you for a short while. Go to a farmer’s market perhaps. Choose an olive oil out of the 6 options you are given, not out of the 50+. I guarantee your dinner will be more successful.

Darling… It’s not just about the Food

Photo by: Steph Hansman

Photo by: Steph Hansman

I like to think we are all students of life. Some students take a more active role than others I would say. Sometimes you don’t even know if you are doing it right. 

Are other people doing this thing called life better than me?! I don’t know, you might wonder. I have definitely wondered. 

Others just kind of absentmindedly go through. Doing the bare minimum just to get through the day. Just to pass the class. 

I mean you could really always make analogies about academic life and dating life. I picked academic today. 

Anyway, today I read something that struck a cord: Health is not only about what you eat, but also about what you say. 

Dang. 

I mean, how many times do people criticize and berate themselves while they are eating a healthy diet (or trying to). They insult their physical appearance because they don’t look the way they want to look – and therefore they do not feel good. 

Photo by: Elizabeth Otaola

Photo by: Elizabeth Otaola

How does anyone expect to feel good and healthy if they are always feeding themselves negative thoughts? 

Yeah they say health is 70% diet and 20% exercise. That won’t matter at all if your head is not in the right place. 

#justsaying 

This obviously goes beyond dieting but that was the most straightforward way to explain it to my fellow students. 

Hey! Btw, if you are also wondering how you are doing with life. Good for you! At least you are trying. But no comparisons people! Seriously. Everyone is going through a different path. 

Alright, I will end this post with this photograph so it’s not too cheesy 😉 

Artist: Sake

Artist: Sake

Cheers!

Wake up at 5:30 am. Commute. Repeat.

Photography by: Elizabeth OtaolaFor the last couple of weeks NYC has turned into one of the most stressful cities I have ever lived in. For the fist time in over a year I have come to understand why day in and day out hundreds of people feel exhausted enough to nap during the commute in the subway.

I decided that everyday I would do something different that would change my life in the long run; and I am not talking about my schooling or my freelance job. I decided to find my creative voice and do something about it for 100 days. I also decided to require to a 3 month long fitness routine that would require me to do some sort of exercise 6 times a week. Between school, work, and my much beloved sleep, I would normally decide that I did not have the time. I was also moving out of my apartment… so packing, transporting, selling, added a lot of stress. This time however, I decided not to make excuses for myself. I am no longer going to “postpone” it to when the timing is better.

I had to get into the mindset that the time to start is now. So I started.

I have had to prioritize. Wake up early. Neglect my night clubbing life entirely (which btw I am happier without). I’ve had to wake up at 5.30 am to get things done; and I have been consistent.

Why?

Mostly because I’ve stopped making excuses for myself. I have also recognized that a lot of my non-committal nature (be it to creative projects, fitness, etc.) was due to fear.IMG_4907 Fear of failure, judgement… My non-committal nature wasn’t because of laziness – and this is not a ME problem, may of us struggle with this.

The fact that I was able to identify the problem was what allowed me the freedom to follow up with an idea.

I don’t have to deal with moving out of my apartment anymore. That’s done; but being able to stick to my vlogging, plus school, plus work, all together, was my test. A test that I passed. If I can do it then, I can do it now.

It really wasn’t NYC’s fault that my life was so stressful, but it certainly didn’t make it easy for me 😉

Cheers!