Thursday, August 21, 2014

I was not Prepared to Go Back to School

By now, everyone knows that I have been on the journey of going back to school to refocus and advance my career for my 40s, while at the same time preparing myself to teach at the University level in my 50s.

Being that my education was non traditional -meaning, I didn't attend or graduate from a State School- or attained traditional degree, things weren't that easy this time around.

Who knew that a 15 year break would be amazing for my career, but not so much for my academics?

Wrongly assuming that my new path would be easy to navigate because of my career experience and previous school grades, I wasn't prepared for all the red tape involved in returning to school.

Let me get this out of the way: If I didn't like school or hadn't done well this past semester, I would have already given up.

Thing is, I love school, I love learning, I love being in an environment where debating and discussing varying opinions is celebrated. I love implementing what I learn in my career and personal life. I love knowing that I am one step ahead of the crowd...and that I am only ten years from teaching at the university level (my ultimate goal, and ideal the last job I will have before I retire).

Unfortunately, things are not that easy. 

Not only that, but academic processes have changed considerably in the 15 years since I have been out of school. Heck, from what I have heard from other adult students, things have changed considerable in the last five years.

But, there is a silver lining in all this: My story has inspired many women to go back to school. Many.

The hick-ups of this summer, from my transcripts getting lost by the school I am ultimately transferring to; to my application having the wrong educational focus, I have lived through all of it. Through. It. All.

Yes, I have had headaches, sleepless nights, rants of frustration on Facebook, and even shed a few tears...but it's all worth it...

I have found a tribe that supports me and holds my hand as I navigate this new world. That, in itself, being another benefit of returning to school.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe: Mexican-Style Pico de Gallo

I've been craving Mexican food as of late. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have been with my hubby for over five years and Italian food outnumbers anything else we eat.  That, or the fact that Mexican food, prepared right, is actually quite healthy and flavorful.  

Either way, I have been preparing my own Salsa Mexicana (as I grew-up calling it), or Pico de Gallo. My version is prepared the way my family taught me, which is focused on mixing the ingredients at the right time to let the flavors marinate.

This version, which I claim to being the original way to prepare salsa Mexicana (Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca or Salsa Bandera), should be enjoyed within minutes the same day it's prepared; which is when the flavors are at their peak.


Ingredients to prepare pico de gallo or salsa Mexicana or salsa fresca or salsa bandera

  • 2 Roma tomatoes or one large tomato
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper or 1 serrano pepper (serrano is the spicier of the two)
  • 2 Mexican limes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • Mexican or sea salt (to taste)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Cut the white onion into small squares and put into a round/bowl-like dish.
  • Juice the limes over the onion and toss to coat the onion with the lime juice. (the reason you start with the onion, is that by the time you chop everything else, the onion has a milder flavor because of the few minutes of it marinating with the lime juice)
  • Chop the jalapeno or serrano pepper and fold into the onion and lime juice mixture.
  • Chop the tomatoes and gently fold into the onion and pepper mixture.
  • Chop the cilantro as fine as possible and add to the tomato, onion and pepper mixture.
  • Add salt and a pinch of sugar together with the cilantro.
  • Fold all ingredients as gently as possibly without smashing the tomatoes.
  • Set aside for a few minutes either at room temperature or covered in the refrigerator.
  • The salsa should be enjoyed within minutes of it being prepared, at most 30 minutes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bra's Across America: Vanity Fair Lingerie LiftTOUR comes to Los Angeles

I recently attended the Bra's Across America: Vanity Fair LiftTOUR at Kohl's thanks to a fellow blogger giving me a heads-up about this event.
The Vanity Fair nationwide LiftTOUR is not just a pretty bus decorated as a lounge for women to relax and mingle. One part vanity (how apropos) and one part giving back, the tour was created to both fit women for their next bra purchase, and give back to women, via its partnership with Dress for Success.
The way this partnership works is that for every woman fit for her new bra during the tour, Vanity Fair donates a brand-new bra to Dress for Success.  This bra is then given to one of the thousands of women helped through the many programs and initiatives that Dress for Success has to help women reenter the work force.
This partnership is a part of Vanity Fair's recent Women who Do initiative - an uplifting campaign thats dedicated to praising and celebrating the every day triumphs of women everywhere. The end goal is to inspire us to celebrate our collective power and perseverance as women.
While at this event, not only did I have the opportunity to meet and mingle with other women that were engaged in philanthropy, I was fitted for a new bra and also picked a bra to donate to Dress for Success.
Of course, I picked a bra that was identical in size to me and wrote a message for the recipient that I hope will inspire her to follow her dreams:
You are important...Don't give up! You can do it!!
Going through the process, I felt connected with women that are also going through major transformations in their life.
With this small action, even though I received a bra gratis, someone else entirely more deserving than me will also receive a beautiful new bra to complete her new career look and embark on her new life...hopefully a bit more motivated after reading my message.
I encourage you to visit for tour dates and locations for you to receive your free bra fitting, a coupon for a discount on a new bra, but most importantly: to inspire another woman by writing your very own message and take part in this powerful initiative that will surely touch many.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

We are all Human

You can’t snap out of depression, but you can definitely try different tools to get yourself out of extreme unhappiness before you crawl down that dark hole.  

Yesterday I did just that.

I may seem trivial, and possibly even simplistic, but doing things that make me happy and even avoiding talking about “it” sometimes does the trick. But being that I now work from home and my staff is pretty much Princess Maya, talking about “it” doesn’t really happen. Mostly because there’s no one to talk to at home during working hours. I did call my hubby a couple of times during the day “I don’t know why. I mean, I do…but I m just so sad. Tell me something happy. Maybe even funny.” I joked with him.

I knew that much: not talking about “it” helps me walk up from the hole before I go “there,” but sometimes I need to do just that. Talk about “it.”

“Does anyone else feel extreme nostalgia?” I asked in a couple of Blogger Groups. “I feel sad. Very.” Some women, because mostly women are members of these groups, sympathized, some even related to my deep dark feelings of nothingness. While others made the time to reach out and help me figure out what was making me so “sad.”

I want to clarify: I’m feeling sadness. Extreme and emotional sadness. But I am not depressed - yet. 

But it could happen and I want to stop myself before I get to that “place.”

“Maybe it’s your thyroid?” A friend asked. 

Yes, maybe my thyroid instability compounds to these feelings. It’s happened before. A slight change of medication usually does the trick. But this time it’s more than that. 

“What is wrong with the world?” I asked another friend. “Why is everything so twisted, so wrong?”

We talked about “it.” Life, I guess. The raw emotional baggage that drags throughout our lives. Even through our seemingly happy and privileged lives.

I glanced at my engagement ring, which has occupied a prominent place on my left hand for almost five years. I looked at the nooks, crannies, sparkles and middle diamond. I then looked at my freshly manicured fingers, my waxed arms, and stared at my “get-out-of-jail” watch. In one arm alone I had plenty of reasons to be happy. To be proud of my hard work and prouder of my thoughtful husband. 

I sipped from my coffee mug. Imported. Italian. Nibbled on my breakfast bread. Freshly sliced. Organic. Artisan. Whatever.

I know I have every reason to be happy. To be proud. To be satisfied with my life.

But deep inside, I feel guilty. This guilt is wearing on me and making me sad. Sad all around over the injustices being served to people non deserving of them. Human rights violations.

Actually, I take that back, human rights  are that, human. No one deservers to be treated less than.

But I regress. Life, our country, the great nation that once was, is making me feel guilty for being able to afford that designer lipstick, artisan coffee, and rewards for any and all hard work I’ve committed myself to doing…and have done.

Guilty, because as I nibble on the latest chef-created morsel of sheer yumminess, someone else, someone just as deserving, is fighting for their rights as a human being.

Guilty because I have had the opportunity to meet with doctors and therapists, that prescribe me medication that I can afford and given me the tools that I can use, to help me get out of this funk.

Guilty because everyone else, no one else, should have to go through depression, injustices, and their needs not being met.

Because everyone deserves to be happy, in a good place, and in a bad place if they need it. When they need it. 

Because we are all human...and we all deserve to be happy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Onwards and Upwards

It's not often that I talk about my bout with depression and how I lived with someone that was severely depressed and almost killed herself.

I also don't talk much about the loss of my best friend after an accidental prescription mishap.

AND, I don't really let myself get down, be down, or express my sadness when something quite public happens that reminds me of all I have gone through.

But this week is different. The sudden loss of someone loved by many and admired by many more brought to the surface all my losses and my depression.

My usual nature of putting it all behind me, even smiling through the pain, is not working. I have avoided going out seeing people, or spending time on social media...but I can't be hidden for much longer.

Life goes on.

There's work to do. People to take care of. Me.

Today I put lipstick on, cut my hair, and smile at strangers.

Today I pretend, once again, that life goes on.

Today I push myself into thinking myself that pain is only a memory, and that laughing is the best prescription to fight sadness.

Wish me luck.

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