What exactly is purpose anyways?

I cannot remember the last time I took a moment to blog. Okay…maybe I can because all blog posts are saved on this site. But, that’s besides the point.

Every year brings a new adventure, a new journey, and usually a new state…literally. I won’t begin to fill in what the last few years have been, but I will share what moved me to even think about logging in again to write: LIFE PURPOSE.

Life purpose has become such a scary, abstract idea. What is my purpose in life? That’s huge, right? But, is it really? When I really break that down and nix out the external societal expectations, it often starts to become so clear.

I’ve been thinking A LOT about purpose lately. What gets me out of bed every morning? What is important to me? How do I give back to this broken world? At the end of my life, how will people remember me?

The road to “success” is always paved with hurdles, boulders, lakes to cross with no damn boat, and plenty of unexpected twists and turns. However, I used to always be confident in knowing what (I thought) was at the end. It all used to be so clear. Now, I’m not so sure…and that’s scary as shit! You would think that by the time you’re in your 30’s life would all make sense. But if anything, as you continue to learn about yourself and who you are, it just becomes that much more difficult.

In thinking about my purpose, I have done a lot of self-reflection. I think about the happy times, the many moments of disappointments, and the people that have have entered and exited. Sometimes I feel successful, while other times I feel like a complete failure. I used to measure my purpose and success on material things: jobs I’ve held, things I’ve accumulated, tangible accomplishments, etc. But lately I’ve been stuck on the question: “What if my purpose is to be a catalyst in the lives of others?”

A lot of my life revolves around my career as a Student Affairs professional, mainly because, let’s face it, more than 40 hours of my week is spent at work. Being in a people-focused role, I have come across a lot of people in my life and have built a number of relationships with students (undergrad and grad), colleagues, and everyone in between.

Have you ever come into contact with a student (undergrad or grad) and said to yourself, “I’m going to work for you some day”, and meant it? Have you ever had the privilege of working with someone and known that they are literally going to change the world? I have! And I’m blessed to have crossed paths with them. But just when I think to myself I wish I could also contribute more to this world in the way I see them do, I receive affirmation in the form of a written letter, text, note, or FB message that contributes to the continued formation of that lingering question of my own purpose. Some of these messages have appeared years later.

It fills my soul to know that somewhere along the way I aided in someone’s journey. This is not a narcissistic mirror reflection of myself. Rather, it’s getting to know myself all over again. It’s being comfortable in recognizing my strengths, what I do best, and moving forward in what I excel at. It’s re-examining my future goals. It’s supporting others in their respective journeys. It’s continuing to build relationships and encouraging others. It’s knowing that sometimes, that one conversation that may have seemed minimal to you meant the world to someone else. It’s knowing that even the smallest gesture of kindness goes a long way. It means that someone out there knows that they have one additional person in their corner. Its showing others what it means to pay it forward and give back in hopes that they pass it along and give back to others. It’s knowing that we all leave impact on this world in different ways.

And that, my friends, is purpose.

purpose

How do you plan to use your gift today?

Critical Literacy in Working-Class Schools

“School success is tied to systematic inequalities that persist from generation to generation.”

Working-Class Perspectives

In her recent post Kathy Newman discusses the lengths to which schools go to improve students’ high-stakes test scores and reminds us that parents’ income is the best predictor of students’ performance on standardized tests.  Nevertheless, when working-class public school students perform poorly on high-stakes tests we say to the teachers, “It’s your fault.  Teach better!”  What we get is teachers who teach worse:  lessons become scripted and rote.  And we say to students, “It’s your fault.  Try harder!”  What we get are students who become even more alienated and less motivated.

Of course, lurking behind the whole issue of high-stakes testing is our faith in the concept of the concept of meritocracy.  Only when meritocracy is rigorously defined and the assumptions underlying it are stated explicitly, does it become problematic.

Meritocracy starts with the assumption that, by and large, all American children start kindergarten or first grade on a…

View original post 1,267 more words

Why are you making it so hard to go on vacation?

I came across this blog, reposted on Twitter http://thesabloggers.org/why-is-it-so-hard-to-just-go-on-vacation/?utm_source=feedly. It struck a chord with me, as I’ve found myself having a lot of conversation around this idea of vacation and guild with colleagues and friends (as it pertains specifically to the field of Student Affairs). So I felt compelled to write my own thoughts.

There seems to be an unwritten rule and culture within Student Affairs that working until you drop makes you a good SA professional. People often take pride in having no life outside of thier job. “I worked 55 hours today” they may say with a smile. “Oh yah, well I had two student meetings back to back that lasted until midnight and then I had to come back in office at 8am to finish the logistics for this weekend’s events” is the response from another. Sound familiar? I’ve heard it time and time again, and used to find myself doing the same thing until one day I took a step back and said “Waaaait a minute. Something is wrong with this picture.”

So now there’s the new me, happy to not check emails once I leave the office (even when my email alerts seem to be going bizerk on my phone), ecstatic to get off around 5’ish on a good day, and happy not to think about the office once I’m gone for the day. But yet this type of behavior is often looked down upon. Why is that? How has this “work until you drop” culture been instilled in the field as the thing that defines you as a “good SA professional?” Now, I’m in no way saying all work places, employees, or supervisors support abide by this or work in this fashion. But, in my experience so far, I have found this culture more often than not.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this field, and I will stay until I get the job done. But at the end of the day, when I go on vacation, I GO ON VACATION!…and I’d like to not be made to feel guilty for doing so. 🙂

margarita-1

The Road to Curing Dark Eye Circles Starts With Sweet Almond Oil

So if you’re like me, you’ve been battling dark under-eye circles since…well forever. For me they’re heriditary. On nights where I don’t get enough sleep I often resemble a racoon that wore too much mascara. That’s what I like to think anyways.

I’ve tried everything: expensive eye creams, concealer, getting more sleep…but I never noticed anything dramatically different. Upon a Facebook posting asking the question , “What eye cream do you use for dark eye circles?”, my cousin told me about Sweet Almond Oil as a natural way to combat them. Hmmmm, I had never heard of this before, so I started looking it up. I found quite a bit of [online] literature and information referencing it’s use.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/300227-sweet-almond-oil-for-dark-circles/

Well, I figured as much as I’ve spent on a tube of L’ancome I could “invest” in a $20 bottle of Sweet Almond Oil at Whole Foods. Couldn’t hurt to try.

(Note: there is a difference between sweet almond oil and regular almond oil. Make sure you’re using the correct one.)

Image

Routine: I use it every night before bed after I wash my face. To use, take a drop of the oil (it doesn’t take much) and gently rub it under your eye in a back and forth motion using your ring finger. It doesn’t totally absorb right away, so if it’s slightly oily, that’s okay. But, it also shouldn’t be dripping down your face.

Note: For the first two days I used the oil both under my eye and under the brow bone. I started developing milia immediately under my brow bone, so I stopped putting oil there.

I failed to take a before picture at the start of the process. I didn’t think about it until four days later. But I do have pics showing the gradual progression over the course of two months. The results are pretty amazing!!

After only four days of use I began to notice a slight difference….or maybe that was wishful thinking. There appeared to be a softening of the skin under my eyes. They didn’t appear as deep set as they normally do, and I looked a tad less tired.

Image

Four Days

After 2 weeks, I noticed a slight lightening of the hyper pigmentation. I also started to notice a decrease in fine lines. My eyes no longer looked so sunken in.

Image

After 2 weeks

This photo was taken about one month into my use of sweet almond oil. I think I was tired, making my dark circles more prominent than normal. However, notice the reduction of fine lines, and the skin under my eye is a lot smoother.

Image

After one month

AND FINALLY……

Two months later! And no, there is no filter!! 🙂

Image

Two months

No eye cream or oil is ever going to make dark eye circles completely disappear. But, the sweet almond oil DEFINITELY made a significant difference. Not only has it subsided the hyper pigmentation, but it has decreased the appearance of fine lines. I still choose to use a concealer at times, but it’s nowhere near the same challenge of cover-up as it was before.

For $20, it was worth it! Now, go out and buy some! 🙂

When You Don’t Like Your Reflection, Change It!

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person staring back at you? It’s in those moments that an internal shift begins. You can continue as this unrecognizable person, or you can make a choice to find yourself again. It’s not an easy decision to make, let me tell you. A few months ago that was me.

It seemed my life was spinning, and I was struggling to regain control. I was discouraged and disappointed in myself for various reasons. I noticed that I was attracting energy and people that reflected what I was putting out into the world. I blamed others for their actions, when, in reality I was allowing people to treat me according to how I felt about myself. I put more time into thinking about what other people thought about me rather than focusing on how I felt about myself. Now, at the time, I would have never believed any of this. But you know what they say: Hindsight is 20/20.

That moment I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I was seeing was the moment I decided to take a stance. Enough was enough. But sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you can start climbing towards the top. I begin to take responsibility for my life and my actions. No more blaming others for their actions towards me, no more misplaced frustrations, no more blaming the world. This negativity was attracting negative people (whose lives were in as much upheaval as my own), causing me to engage in negative actions, placing doubt on my self-esteem and self-worth, trying to hold on to unreciprical relationships (all encompassing)…all so I did not have to think about or focus on what was really going on. I mean, who wants to really do that? I had to realize my place and responsibility in the spinning tornado that was my life. It was time to take control.

I am finding myself in a new place of happiness. It wasn’t an easy place to get to. Within this, I have noticed that my postitive energy is attracting positive things. I am meeting great people, establishing new, healthy relationships (all encompassing), and not allowing the negativity of the world to have a place in my life. I’m taking more control of my thoughts. I’m not giving time to the over analyzation of ill actions or things that I have no control over. I’m appreciating my time and using it towards positive thinking. I’m reading books to help shape my thought. I’m not putting time into relationships that are not recipricol, but I’m also not holding a grudge. I am learning I cannot control other people’s actions, but I can control my reactions. I am confident in myself and my abilities. I’m finding new hobbies and ways to use my time. I appreciate the moments I have alone to myself. I smile at the small things and stay in a space of gratitude.

No, my life is in no way perfect. It’s a daily effort to be positive, but it feels SO much better.

Life is beautiful, and I love what I’m seeing in the mirror. 🙂

The First Step to Self-Improvement is Changing Your Self-Talk

I am an intensely spiritual person deeply embedded in my faith. I believe everything happens for a reason, life is a journey to a larger purpose, fate is outside of my hands and is up to a higher power, and people come in and out of our lives – some being seasonal, others here to stay. Well, I also believe in a lot of other things too, but for the sake of this post I’ll keep the list short.

Have you ever had those moments where it seems like you’re receiving the same message over and over from various sources? It could be different people that have no connection to each other, a message you come across on a Yogi Tea bag, or even a book recommendation that aligns with a larger thought that you’ve been processing in your mind. Well, that was just the experience I had over the weekend.

The start to my day began with a lengthy conversation with someone I’ve known for a while and hold dear to my heart, I was pointedly told about my tendency to lead my life by assumptions: about what people think, how they may feel, and the actions I then take according to the new reality I have set for myself. I found it quite interesting. Instead of completely shutting down the idea and being on the defense, I decided to reflect on it.

The day concluded with a long overdue conversation with my twin. (No, I don’t actually have one, but we might as well be.) We talked about life, self-realization, growth and change, recognizing one’s behavioral challenges, and finding the tools to overcome them, improve, and change. Within this came two recommended books by Don Miguel Ruiz: The Four Agreements & The Mastery of Love. I looked them up and loved what they were about, so I ordered them from Amazon:

The Four Agreements reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. When we are ready to change these agreements, there are four deceptively simple, yet powerful agreements that we can adopt as guiding principles:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

“The Mastery of Love illuminates the fear-based beliefs and assumptions that undermine love and lead to suffering and drama in our relationships. Using insightful stories to bring his message to life, Ruiz shows us how to heal our emotional wounds, recover the freedom and joy that are our birthright, and restore the spirit of playfulness that is vital to loving relationships.”

http://www.miguelruiz.com/index.php?p=books 

Image

The next day I got to work and found a devotional book a co-worker had left on my desk. I was going to put it away and read it at a later time, but something told me to open it up to the message of the day. Imagine my surprise:

Image

Coincidence? I think not!

Sometimes, things line up for us to recieve a larger message, and it’s up to us to pay attention and be receptive to what the universe is trying to tell us.

As for me, I’m looking forward to spending this upcoming weekend reading and reflecting, heading down the path of continuously becoming a better me, trying to plant better seeds of positivity, releasing myself of fear, and creating healthy self-talk & better self-fulfilling prophecies. 🙂

 

When Life Hands You Strawberries, Make a Mimosa Brunch; But, Don’t Forget the Beets!!

My weekend was full of fun, sun, and cooking! I’m enjoying finding new recipes and ways to eat clean, stay clear of non-natural sugars (i.e.: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, etc.), and rediscovering the joys of a Farmer’s Market.

Image

I made another trip to Little Italy’s farmer’s market in downtown San Diego. I must say, I’m THOROUGHLY enjoying access to fresh, organic produce.

Image

I am getting in the habit of buying my groceries on a weekly basis. Though a challenge, it helps me plan my meals week by week, as fresh produce does not last long and must be used rather quickly. It also keeps me on track with my goal of clean eating.

After coming across some GORGEOUS fresh, and sweet strawberries, I decided to try a gluten free pancake recipe a friend of mine posted. Her and her sister keep a food blog. Here’s the link: http://www.sissiesinthekitchen.com/2013/02/the-most-important-meal.html

I used egg whites, as I do not buy eggs. After trial and error, I learned that if you substitute egg whites for eggs, you have to double the content. Example: this recipe calls for 2 eggs. 2 eggs = 1/2 cup of egg whites. So I used 1 cup of egg whites.

image-1

Do not expect this recipe to give you the pancake consistency you’re used to. They are a little more spongy in texture, and they were pretty flat. But they were DELICIOUS!! I cut up fresh strawberries and used 100% pure maple syrup (no sugar added). Next time I think I will try using whole eggs to see if there’s a consistency difference.

image-2

Gluten-Free Pancakes

And, what better way to enjoy a gluten free pancake breakfast than with mimosas?! I must say, the champagne you use in a mimosa is important. I typically buy an inexpensive one, but I decided to try this brand. So delicious!! Less dry, and slightly sweeter. A good compliment to the orange juice.

image-3

Ballatore Gran Spumante Sparkling Wine

With brunch being covered, and taking advantage of the fact I had a friend over and actually someone to cook for, I decided to retry the white-balsamic glazed beet recipe I had made the weekend before. It’s very simple. The recipe comes from this site:
http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/roasted_beets_with_balsamic_glaze/

Farmer's Market Finds

Farmer’s Market Finds!!

At the farmer’s market, I discovered white balsamic vinegar. Though it’s not new, I had never heard of it before. It’s lighter and a bit sweeter than dark balsamic vinegar. I used it for the beets.

 

When roasted, beets have a nice, glazed look fresh out of the oven!

image-4  Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

I also learned to cook with the beet greens so as not to waste them. They have a texture similar to kale. I chop them up along with fresh cut garlic. Sauté on medium-high heat in a little olive oil, add a few tablespoons of water, and cover with a lid. Let them steam until the leaves are the consistency you want (I prefer mine a little more on the firmer side so they aren’t soggy). It takes about 10 minutes.

image-6

Together with the white balsamic-glazed beets, beet greens, and chicken breasts grilled on the Foreman, dinner was SERVED!

image-7

I’m learning that eating clean and healthy is not as hard as it sounds. I used to think of it as a chore, but it’s really all about planning and prepping. Make a list every weekend of the fruits and veggies that you’ll be using for your meals during the week. Use the world wide web to access the hundreds of recipes that exist! The only thing holding you back is an excuse. 😉