Inspiration & Expert Advice on What Matters Most

Archive for the ‘Contributors’ Category

In Our Thirties: Book Cover Unveiled

In Blogging, Career, Contributors, News, Quotes on August 18, 2019 at 03:12

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it”.

-Goethe

On my thirtieth birthday, I set out to explore what this decade of life means and how best to celebrate it. I knew I was not the only one thinking about life differently at this age. I invited friends from all around the world to share their own experiences on life in our thirties. I set up a blog. I researched. I found expert contributors who could shed some light on the questions so many of us faced. I never imagined receiving such an overwhelmingly positive response. Though a book was not on anybody’s list, it emerged as part of this inspiring collective breakthrough.

After years of work, the book is finally here: In Our Thirties: Insights and Expert Advice for This Decade and Beyond. Out this Fall 2019 and my heart is racing while I am typing this.

Today, I am thrilled to share the book cover with you:

Please make it yours. As a contributor, as a reader, as a follower, this book is yours. Therefore, please feel free to share it with your family and friends through your feeds and stories, make it your profile picture, why not? Also, please continue to share your stories about life in your thirties with us, inspiration never ends.

If you are a journalist, blogger, or PR expert, please let me know if you would like to feature In Our Thirties. I am definitely available for interviews and willing to share excerpts. We have plenty of content available to post.

I can’t thank you enough for your encouragement and support.

Stay tuned for the launch this Fall 2019.

Always grateful,

Laura

P.S.: Please remember to follow us here on WordPress, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and invite your family and friends to join you so you can get invited to our book launch, receive giveaway alerts, and get inspiration and expert advice on what matters most in your thirties and beyond!

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Breaking News: Book Cover Reveal Tomorrow!

In Blogging, Career, coaching, Contributors, News on August 17, 2019 at 11:45

Hi!

How have you been?

How is your summer going?

For those of you who have kids, I bet you are getting them ready to go back to school! I wish you a great school year ahead!

Somewhere in the world, it’s my birthday already (Kiribati, here I go!)

As a thank you for your heartfelt support I would love to celebrate sharing with you the book cover of our upcoming book In Our Thirties coming out this Fall 2019! As I say when I coach vision-to-action board workshops, it’s time to put a picture on it. It’s time for a cover reveal!

Please check your emails and our social media profiles on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter tomorrow so you can be the first ones to see it and let me know your thoughts!

See you tomorrow!

Have a great day!

Your fan,

Laura

P.S.: Please remember to follow us here on WordPress and all social networks and invite your family and friends to join you so you can get invited to our book launch, receive giveaway alerts, and get inspiration and expert advice on what matters most in your thirties and beyond!

Photo by Leah Kelley

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Give The Gift of Education

In Contributors, Family, Giving Back=Paying It Forward, Lifestyle, motherhood, News, travel on June 10, 2019 at 15:34

By Gea Schmid

Hi!

I’m Gea Schmid. I live in a rural community in Northern Nicaragua with my husband and 2-year-old daughter. We are a one-hour drive from the closest urban town with grocery stores and adequate schools. Our community is in great need of quality education for all ages. This Learning Center will benefit the local Nicaraguans who desire English classes, foreign visitors/residents who want to learn Spanish and families who want to provide an adequate education for their young children.

Due to the current political crisis in Nicaragua, one of the housing developments in our community, called Azul, has seen a dramatic decline in activity. What was a lively and promising development is now a neglected space with a quickly-decaying yoga platform. This vacant building has great potential to be transformed into a Learning Center offering superior education to empower and educate our community in need. 

I am organizing this campaign to raise money to fund a Learning Center for the community. The initial funds raised will be used to convert the building from a yoga platform into a proper classroom setting. The majority of the funds will be used to pay the qualified teachers we hire to work in the center. By employing a well-educated staff we can improve the quality of life in our community. I will withdrawal the funds as needed for the various expenses itemized below.

During the first year of operation, I will lead monthly advisory board meetings to monitor the interest and progress of the Learning Center. The goal for the future is to be a sustainable center in the community for years to come. We just need a little help getting things off the ground! Please consider donating here.

I am donating my time and efforts to spearhead and ready the space, hire staff and direct operations. We have already received the approval from Azul who has kindly donated the space rent-free to us for one year. Now we need external funding so that classes can start on August 5th, 2019.

 

Our first step is to fumigate the space for termites, ants and bats. Then, we will have a local carpenter add temporary walls, screens and a front door. After a deep cleaning, it can then be transformed into a classroom with tables, chairs bookshelves and curriculum materials. In the mean time, we will be interviewing applicants for the available positions and enrolling students.

Below you will find a list with the estimated initial start up costs and operating costs for one year.

Who else in your network could help? Please share this fundraiser with your family, friends and colleagues, thank you for your time, and check back here to see our progress! 

Structure Set-UP
Wood, Screen, Front Door, Labor, Cleaning & Fumigation $1250.00


Furniture for Classroom
Children Size Tables 4 X $25 $100
Children Chairs 16 X $10$160
Book Shelves 4 X $50 $200
File Folders/Hanging Folders 1 X $15$15
Folding Adult Chairs 25 x $17$425
Folding Adult Tables 4 x $60$240
Drawer Organizer 1 x $44$44
Storage containers 2 x $30$60
Filing cabinet 1 x $92$92
White board 1 x $40$40
Total$1376


Facility Supplies 
Mop, bucket, broom, cleaning supplies, cleaning towels, trash cans, stools etc$175.00


Ongoing Expenses 12 months 
Water, electricity, facility supplies$1680.00


Employee salaries for 12 months 
Facilities Cleaner, English & Spanish Teacher, Tutor and Teachers Aid$6336.00


Head Teacher salary for 12 months (preschool/kindergarten/curriculum operations)$6000.00


Total$16817.00

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De Financista a Maquillista

In Beauty, Blogging, Career, Contributors, En Español, Entrepreneurs, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, News on April 16, 2018 at 11:00

Por Fharas Sandoval

Fharas

Ya sabía que perder el sueño por varios días seguidos era o una MUY buena señal o una MUY mala señal. ¡Mi cabeza no paraba! Conocía, como a las pecas de mis rostros (que son muchas), el binomio riesgo-rentabilidad. El primero me seducía (¡traviesa al fin!) y la rentabilidad… para alguien que creía haberlo perdido todo, poco importaba.

Para ese momento, dos amigas con las que tenía negocios menores, me sugirieron probar suerte con aquellas “habilidades” que ambas habían notado en mi, a lo que accedí sólo por mantenerme ocupada y no porque creyera que ese fuera a ser mi destino, imagínate tú… Fharas maquillando o, peor aún, depilando!

La formación que recibí fue básicamente ser organizada, disciplinada, fuerte y constante; que debía estudiar y hacerme de una profesión. Que debía casarme y formar un hogar; conseguir y mantener un trabajo digno que me ayudara a tener una vida “decente” y criar mis hijos. Todo en ese orden (ojalá pudieran ver mi cara de burla mientras escribo, todavía no me lo creo). La educación profesional (en la universidad) estuvo orientada hacia la calidad y el servicio al cliente. Rápidamente mis profesores de grado notaron en mí ciertas fortalezas, y tuvieron gracias a Dios, el detalle de señalarme que tenía esas cualidades y que si las trabajaba podía escalar profesionalmente. Lo que entendí y aproveché sin problemas (¿quién quiere ser promedio cuando puede ser sobresaliente?). Siendo brutalmente sincera, donde yo llegaba y no había oportunidades las fabricaba, y donde no podía fabricarlas no me quedaba. Así de agresiva fui en todos los empleos. Y claro está, esa actitud no era bien vista por mis colegas y en ocasiones abiertamente rechazada por mis superiores. Lo que a la verdad me valía !@#*. Tuve muchos roces y malos entendidos con mis compañeros de trabajo, de lo que aprendí que ser buena es bueno y ser “la mejor” es malo.

Me eduqué y me re-eduqué. Me abrí paso profesionalmente, siendo madre soltera, ambiciosa y comprometida en una sociedad que te crucifica por ser una de las tres, yo era las tres. No puedo negar que recibí muy buenas oportunidades; logré hacerme una alta ejecutiva en un grupo empresarial de renombre y pasé a ser “Doña Fharas” (@#%!). Mi vida giraba en torno a reuniones de staff, compromisos sociales de trabajo y modelos financieros del tamaño del universo que debía memorizar y mantener en positivo. Tampoco era extraño recibir una llamada a deshoras con la pregunta “¿cómo está el ROI?

De pronto una mañana abrí los ojos y estaba en casa. Con pareja, con hijos, con una mascota y SIN trabajo. ¡Una profesional como yo! Y mi único pensamiento, ante las escasas probabilidades de reinserción laboral en aquella situación (había perdido el trabajo y quedado embarazada casi al otro día), era que bajo ninguna circunstancia ese iba a ser el final. En varias ocasiones me ofrecieron trabajo, algunos los acepté, pero la vida insistía en devolverme al “calor del hogar”, que para mí era más bien una especie de hoguera infernal que me quemaba despiadadamente.

Aprendí a valorar el tiempo de la familia, aprendí a amar el tiempo para mí. Puse en práctica cosas que sabía muy bien hacer pero que odiaba, como cocinar y pertenecer a club de padres del colegio de mis hijos y hasta eso empecé a valorar. Y mientras esto pasaba, mi verdadero yo envuelto en un impetuoso aire de “emprendedora” secuestraba una habitación en mi apartamento y lo convertía en un conato  de estudio de depilación y maquillaje. Como buena financista recorté gastos y los invertí en “el proyecto”. Anoté todo en varias libretas de papel, abrí redes sociales, volví a la escuela esta vez para educarme en el área, contacté personas importantes de la industria y de buenas a primeras estaba otra vez abriéndome paso, fabricando oportunidades y dónde no podía fabricarlas usé la creatividad (que tampoco sabía que tenía), puse todo el empeño y amor en el nuevo reto y triunfé. Quiero que sepan que en este proceso el apoyo de mis familiares y amigos fue prácticamente NINGUNO (sacando a mi suegra y a mi amiga Pamela). Nadie de mis allegados venía por mis servicios, ¡si lo hacían querían que fuera gratis! A penas me recomendaban… Algo que me parecía insólito, pero igual no me detuvo. Demasiado ambiciosa para distraerme. El  enfoque es clave para un emprendedor. Hoy puedo decir que mi clientela y seguidores son 100% orgánicos, ¡gracias sólo a Fharas!

A poco más de tres años de haberme lanzado en la industria de la belleza y sin traumas, he logrado mantener 41 clientes fijos (de los cuáles el 30% son extranjeros), un promedio de 5.3 nuevos clientes por mes y una reputación de excelencia y calidad en los servicios provistos de un 86%. Créanme, ¡estos números son excelentes! Para haber empezado desde cero y sobrevivido al intento, esto me basta para NO detenerme y seguir (¡la ambición no tiene límites!) Y sé que en el juego de la vida la apuesta siempre es a mí.¿Apuestas?

Besos,

Fha

Sobre Fharas: …Financiera de profesión, maquilladora por vocación, emprendedora por necesidad…

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Meet Ineabelle from Artsy Hive

In Career, Contributors, Entrepreneurs, Family, Lifestyle, Relationships, Spirituality on December 15, 2017 at 08:44

By Ineabelle Soto

Photo Oct 26 5 00 25 PM

Back in Puerto Rico, I studied in a specialized, middle and high, school of arts. After graduating from college with a bachelor degree in advertising, I worked for 10 years in the advertising field and stopped when I gave birth to my daughter. But I felt the urge to go back to my creative side. I took a brief cake design course and started baking from home (@dulcelabakery). Even though it was something fun to do and business was good (and surprisingly growing), my husband and I felt that we needed to do something bigger than that.

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When looking for that “big thing to do”, my husband and I started developing what’s today Artsy Hive. With our background in the arts, we started exploring the possibility of opening a business related to that. That’s when we thought of an experience we had in a pottery painting place we went with our daughter and thought of the things we would do differently. Pottery painting is an old concept and we felt that the options out there stayed in that old fashion era. When deciding to go for this concept, we wanted people of all ages to get inspired from the moment they stepped in, we wanted clients to feel comfortable in a space that is not only for kids, but for the entire family and all ages. Therefore, while designing the environment, we went for a clean, modern yet cozy shop.

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We designed a place that we, as parents, wanted to come back not only with our family, but also with our adult friends.

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It took us a year and a half to open our doors. With many good and bad days, stress and huge decisions to make. My biggest satisfaction and the second best feeling I have every day (the first one is when my daughter is back from school) is to open Artsy Hive‘s door, turn on the lights and put the music on. I always take a moment to see what we’ve accomplished. The beauty of the space. I feel in love every single day I come in. If we worked so hard to open, we must work harder to keep it that way, one day at a time.

Artsy Hive has taught me that I am brave. It is not easy to step out of the comfort zone. To wake up every day worried about how this project will change our lives forever and yet keep going forward. I learned it is not a decision to be brave, I learned it’s in you. 

I am a woman, daughter, granddaughter, wife, mother, friend, entrepreneur, creator, immigrant, active community member, among many other dimensions. I decided not to wear different hats. I won’t stop being a mother to be a wife, I won’t stop being a friend to be a woman. The best way to go in life is to apply every single facet in your everyday. While working at Artsy Hive, and in life in general, you must have empathy. All those facets we have as women we have to use them all in the best way we can. If there is a mom struggling to control her toddler, I would never step back and watch. I will always offer my help and understanding. That’s how I manage my multiple facets, using empathy, being humble and just being human. That’s also how I make connections with our clients. It’s a win-win.

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Now that Artsy Hive is open, my hobby is to find things we can do with my daughter, spend our ‘free’ time with her. Although, I still have a passion to create things with my hands. When I am only me, Ineabelle, I’m at home and I lay down. I can’t nap, I don’t know why,  I like to just lay down. Netflix and chill, literally. I rest. As simple as that.

Many things have happened and are still happening during the journey of my 30s. I believe that it’s been a decade full of findings. My daughter was born when I was almost 30. Not only my purpose in life changed because of  her, but also my mind shifted.

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I now think that this is the real age to make bold decisions and still have the stamina, energy and passion to do it (contrary to when I was in college). I thought that having a baby would stop me from doing something that felt right to be done. Fear, doubts, concerns, you name it, I feel it all, but still manage to do everything with them. I did it with fear, I did it with doubts and concerns. This is my mindset. I believe that in your 30s, you are mature enough to visualize yourself in a position and manage to plan the best way to achieve it. Only maturity can make you do that. I call it “the planned risks”.

My tips for another thirty-something doing it all like me?

  1. Work for what’s right and for what feels right.
  2. Find your Passion. Everything you do, do it with Passion.
  3. I invite everyone to start a relationship with HIM. In my 30s, I received the call and decided to obey. That decision, changed my entire life for the best. I’m not a religious person, I just have a relationship with our creator.
  4. You are awesome, you are amazing, you are a super woman and you are not alone. I’m here.

Ineabelle

www.theartsyhive.com

211 NE 95th St. Miami Shores, FL 33138

305-456-1059

P.S.: Artsy Hive is the beautiful location for our Vision Board Workshop on January 6th, 2018. One week left to take advantage of Early Bird price! Register NOW here! Thanks for joining us and thanks Ineabelle for having us!

 

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Ayer 30, Hoy 40

In Career, Contributors, En Español, Entrepreneurs, Family, Lifestyle, Relationships on October 4, 2017 at 08:18

Amy40

Por Isis Santana

De nuevo es 3 de octubre, esta vez, de 2017, día especial para mí por diferentes y muy importantes motivos: Hoy celebro el día de mi profesión, la odontología, a la que he dedicado formalmente 17 años de mi vida, de manera ininterrumpida, con muchos altibajos y sacrificios, pero ejercida con mucha pasión y mucha alegría de recibir la recompensa de un esfuerzo continuo.

Un 3 de octubre me convertí en mamá por primera vez…cuando ya tenía mi plan de vida perfecta y mentalmente organizado, proyectado a los siguientes 7 u 8 años de vida, Dios me informó que tenía una mejor idea para mí y me demostró su amor infinito regalándome uno de sus mejores ángeles como hijo. Hoy, mi primer hijo, quien estrena sentimientos que aún desconozco, cumple 16 años y recordar sus primeros años me llena el alma de una sensibilidad que no sé describir.

Hoy, 3 de octubre de 2017, es mi último día dentro de la agitada y edificante década de los “30”, una década que inició con enormes expectativas y afanes aún más grandes.

Varias cosas se conjugaron para que esta etapa que hoy termina fuera tan especial: La responsabilidad de criar nuestros dos niños de manera digna, la energía natural que emana cuando las mujeres sentimos la necesidad de ser entes productivos e independientes (pecando muchas veces de robar el tiempo de los hijos para trabajar, tanto, hasta enfermar inclusive), una energía que la da los años y que te permiten ser atrevida ante tomas de decisiones que te plantean en la cara: “o lo haces o te estancas”, o te ponen a calcular: “¿Qué es lo que puedo perder?, ¿Si no sale bien, qué hago?…al final, calculaba mis riegos y lo único que podía perder era algo de dinero o que por falta de tiempo no pudiera cumplir con tal o cual cosa…y esas dos variables siempre tienen solución…entonces, simplemente me lanzaba. Para ser honesta extraño ese motor que me empujaba a hacer más, pero nos toca avanzar.

Han sido 10 años de aprendizaje y autoconocimiento. Pensaba que al llegar a mis “40” me iba a mantener como la misma persona. Me resultaba muy gracioso que muchas mujeres a esta edad se llenaban la boca de decir que eran “otra persona”, que ya no les preocupaba tanto lo que creyeran o dijeran de ella, que habían aprendido a decir “NO”, que aceptaban su cuerpo, que ahora quieren “hacer lo que les gusta”, que son “más claras y directas”, etc. Me parecía un discurso de crisis de mediana edad…y aquí estoy repitiéndolo orgullosa.

Estos años me hicieron entender que las expectativas son realmente dañinas, que sólo traen decepción y lejanía. En un matrimonio, cuando esperas que el otro haga, diga o reaccione de una forma en particular (según lo que tú consideras que “debe ser”) y no sucede de esa forma, entonces viene una ola de reclamos necios que sencillamente van interponiendo un brazo de distancia entre los dos. Entendí que somos diferentes y hago un gran esfuerzo por dejarlo ser. Entendí que tampoco quiero sobre mi espalda el peso de altas expectativas sobre mí. Quiero sentir la libertad de ser quien realmente soy, no la que piensas que soy, ni la que quieres que yo sea…yo, soy yo…no más, no menos.

Aprendí que estamos en constante crecimiento y transformación, no solo por los años, sino también porque creces con tus hijos y sus cambios.

Aprendí que los cambios son constantes y muchas veces ocurren de manera inesperada, y que nos toca estar dispuestas a adaptarnos a lo que la vida nos presente. Hoy quisiera dedicar mi tiempo a otro arte, la fotografía y ya no tanto a la odontología. Llevo AÑOS tratando de identificar qué es eso nuevo a lo que me quiero dedicar y por considerar las opiniones de otros antes que las mías, no había hecho el cambio definitivamente. He probado a educarme en varias de mis pasiones, este es el momento de  la fotografía y el que más ha llenado el espacio que buscaba ser satisfecho. Cuando miro atrás, al último año y medio, siento en el corazón que el universo ha conspirado para que me dedique a ella y lo disfrute ahora que puedo ir soltando el acelerador.

Sin dudas mis grandes aciertos van enfocados a la maternidad, aunque con el tiempo he llegado a identificar errores que he cometido en la crianza de mis hijos, definitivamente no pesan nada cuando comparas eso con el tipo de persona, estudiantes, hijos, amigos, que han resultado ser.

Dentro de mí los cambios son muy marcados. Ya no me siento en la capacidad de hacer o decir cosas porque otro así lo espera. No me siento cómoda cuando me sobrevaloran porque eso significa que debo mantener un nivel ante tus ojos y expectativas. Prefiero que quien me vaya a querer me quiera tal cual soy. Me siento mucho más cómoda siendo más directa y andando con menos rodeo con la gente, aunque sigo manteniendo la idea de que para ser directo no hay que irrespetar, levantar la voz o atropellar al otro.

Deseo, al inicio de esta nueva década, que simplemente pueda enamorarme de la nueva YO. Que siga educando mis sentidos para apreciar los pequeños detalles y regalos de la vida. Que pueda nivelar de manera justa para mi bebé de 2 años, las exigencias impuestas a sus hermanos y disfrutar las diferentes etapas de cada uno en su máxima expresión. Deseo verdaderamente emprender en el mundo de mi pasión, la fotografía y hacerlo con el entusiasmo que le tengo en este momento por muchos, muchos años.

Agradezco a los “30” el haber experimentado dentro de esa sola década la transformación de una mente agitada, complaciente, exigente a una más calmada, más detallista, más libre de prejuicios y limitaciones, más prudente, más agradecida, que busca hacer las paces consigo misma y sobre todo que se muestra tal cual es.

Feliz por lo aprendido, lo vivido, lo llorado, lo reído, por los logros, por lo que no se logró, por mi hijos, por mi esposo, mi matrimonio que ha superado incalculables pruebas, por los cambios ocurridos y por los que vendrán.

Mañana, Día 4, abro mi corazón a que renazca de nuevo y y se disponga a vivir en alegría todo lo que le traiga el tren de la vida!

Con cariño,

Isis!!!

 

Crédito Foto Isis: Otto Winter

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How Have You Been?

In Blogging, Career, coaching, Contributors, Giving Back=Paying It Forward, Health, Lifestyle, News, Videos on September 28, 2017 at 08:50

Aloha!

How Have You Been?

How has 2017 treated you?

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What are your plans for the remainder of it?

How are you preparing to finish it with a bang / in a high note?

I hope you are well, that this post finds you in good health and spirit and that you are safe wherever you are considering everything that has happened around the world lately. Please consider volunteering and/or donating to the causes closest to your heart.

It’s been a while since my last post. I barely shared a few articles on our Facebook page. I have missed you, writing for you, connecting with you. 

Last year was life-changing: After four years living in Nicaragua, I moved back to the United States, to my beloved Miami (It’s been over a year already, and I still owe Lia Seirotti a post about that-coming soon, promised!).

The move happened fast. We became homeowners. I thank my husband for doing most of the research and paperwork. I limited myself to following the great tips in this article by my talented friend Zania and contacting another great friend Oscar Terán as a realtor. The rest was signing a mountain of documents and we are still choosing furniture!

Once again, I was ready to conquer Miami. To recover my space, my work, my friends, my life. Not that I had lost them, but I definitely needed to reconnect.

They were all priorities. Work took over though. I started getting hired for Public Relations and Entertainment Production projects, it felt like I had never left and it was a great reassuring feeling. Fun projects took me to some of my favorite destinations while pulling me away from blogging, writing and social media, as I always strive to respect the time of my clients and the privacy that they deserve.

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I also went back to school for my Professional Coaching Certification. I am still offering complimentary coaching calls, please don’t hesitate to contact me and take advantage of that.

While all this was happening, I was simultaneously “working” on my health. I had been dealing with a hormonal imbalance that not only affected me physically but also emotionally as it directly conflicted with the deepest desire of my heart. I turned 34 in the middle of unpromising fertility diagnosis and felt like there was nothing to celebrate. I was wrong. More on that soon. In the mean time, if you plan to have children, please ask your doctor if you can start taking folic acid daily. You and your future babies can thank me later.

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Family and work kept me busy and entertained with exciting and all-consuming endeavors, including touring with a rock band in South America and other trips to new places and revisiting old ones. I kept it all to myself, absorbed it, digested it and now I am ready to share it. Stay tuned for upcoming travel blog posts.

The election results also affected my blogging persona. I realized once again the power of media, considering that a product of it had become president, and I felt even more responsible for what I was creating and sharing. It paralyzed me for months. Still not over it, but I have decided to transform fear and empower myself through it instead. That’s another reason why I am back.

Four days after publishing our latest post, I received the miracle that I had been praying for. Long story perfect for a future post. Just know that “When Jesus says yes, nobody can say no”.

Earlier this year we also lost two of our beloved contributors: Alfonsina Ferreira and Godelena Segura. I deeply miss them, their smiles, their energy and their wisdom. I am grateful for their lives and souls and the valuable time that we spent together.  

Take this post as a relaunch of this blog. I am back and with so much to offer. I want to write posts that have a lot for you in them. I can’t promise frequency and regularity, just content that will make you content. In that order, I would love to hear your ideas. What would you like to read about? Please let me know as soon as you can.

Thanks in advance for sharing this post with your family, friends and colleagues!

Who misses you?

Laura

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Beauty Expert Guest: Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

In Beauty, Blogging, Contributors, Lifestyle, News, wellness on June 24, 2016 at 08:20

As told to Laura Sgroi 

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Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

My name is Autumn Whitefield-Madrano and I am a beauty blogger. I try to make it clear from the start that I am not a beauty blogger who writes about makeup tips—I am a beauty blogger who looks at why we are invested in beauty as women and the role that it plays in our lives. I started The-Beheld.com when I was 34, therefore I had some sense of what I wanted out of life in terms of who I was, and that enabled me to start this blog in the first place.

When I was a kid, my mother didn’t wear makeup at all—maybe mascara but nothing else. But whenever I would visit my grandmother I would sit at her makeup table and I would play for hours. I just loved trying on the different lipsticks and the different eye shadows, it was just this world of fantasy that I loved engaging in but I didn’t know how to do it because I didn’t learn firsthand from my mom. So when I started working in women’s magazines in my early twenties, even though I wasn’t in the beauty department, my heart was there—I always loved the beauty pages, and loved talking to beauty editors. Beauty is literally the face that we present to the world. I am more surprised when people are not interested in beauty. You are interested in beauty in some way even if you don’t ever wear makeup. It’s what you are showing the world, and that says so much about who we are. That is how I got attracted to the subject of beauty, and I’ve engaged with it as long as I can remember.

Most women become more comfortable with who they are as they get older and that shows in the way that they present themselves. The way they do their makeup or the way they don’t do makeup, the way that they style their hair or the clothes that they choose. When I was younger I was a lot more experimental. I wouldn’t even leave the house wearing wild eye shadow or other things, I was playing around. But there wasn’t the sense of joy about it, it was almost a searching of identity: Who am I? Am I someone who wears bright red lipstick? Am I someone who has short hair? Do I have long hair? Do I have highlights? I was trying to put my identity on who I was physically and we all do that. What happens as we get older is that we understand the variety of identities that any of us have, so instead of searching for “Oh! That’s our one identity!” you understand that sometimes you want to wear your natural curls flowing and other times you are going to want to have your hair sleek, and I am the same way. I go through phases when I want to wear my hair long, and luxurious and puffed out—and other times, like during the summer, I just twist it up with a pencil and that’s it. I understand that there are different faces that I am showing to the world. I’m not looking for my identity, I am presenting various sides of myself.

My approach became a little narrower in a certain sense now that I know what works for me, and that is something I didn’t know fifteen years ago. I didn’t understand what my features were, I didn’t understand what my strong points were, what you should be emphasizing and that is something that you just learn with time. Some ladies have a knack for it when they’re younger but I was certainly not one of those. I also have become more comfortable with what I do have to offer and learned to trust those things that are worth showing off and that was something I had to learn with time. I never thought like that when I was a teenager, I knew that I had nice big hazel eyes but I was afraid to show them off because I thought it might be seen like, “Oh, she thinks she’s all that” if I tried to emphasize them with eyeliner. As I get older I tell myself: Everyone has these things about themselves that they know are beautiful and they should show them. That is something I became more comfortable with as I got older.

I also spent so much time when I was a teenager thinking I had bad skin because of some pimples, I thought bad skin, bad skin…Yes, I had some pimples but I had elastic, smooth skin, except for those occasional pimples, and I wished I had been able to recognize that for myself as good skin instead of always saying “bad skin,” because it was just teenage girl skin—it was in general pretty nice.

Something that helped me in my early thirties was looking at some old pictures of myself and I saw how nice I looked. I was never one of those stunningly beautiful women, but I looked at pictures of myself in college and I saw that I just had this glow, I saw that my hair was shining and bouncy and healthy and I saw this vibrancy that I had. I also saw that I didn’t know how to dress myself and other things that were “wrong”, but I saw all these gifts that I had that I didn’t let myself believe when I was younger and it dawned on me: That means there are still things within myself that I don’t know, there’s still something lovely, there’s always going to be something lovely there even if I don’t recognize it; I have to trust that is there. I try to remember that when I have a day I don’t feel so great. I try to think that whatever I saw yesterday that I liked is still there, and in ten years I’m going to look back at a picture of myself now and wonder why I didn’t see some quality.

One of the biggest things that helped me make peace and make friends with my image was understanding that when I looked in the mirror, I wasn’t seeing what I looked like—I was seeing what I felt like. Once I understood that, I didn’t take the mirror as the final truth about how I looked. I still sometimes wake up and my skin is puffy or my hair just isn’t working, but as long as we are taking care of ourselves and getting enough rest, we look the same most of the time. The biggest problem I see with women in our age, who are a little more comfortable with ourselves than we might have been in our twenties, isn’t so much that they don’t like what they see or that they think they are hideous—it’s that their self-esteem fluctuates a lot. One day they might feel “Hello, I’m Miss Thing” and the next day they feel terrible. I would like to see more women be able to do instead is have trust in those days when you look at the mirror and you feel like you got it going on or you don’t even need to look at the mirror at all, you just have that feeling, have a certain faith that that is what you are showing the world. On those days that we see something we don’t like, more often than not, it’s about mood or something internal—it’s not about “Oh, my eyes looks smaller today than usual” because your eyes do not get smaller, I promise.

Some people think that if they are unhappy they need to mask it somehow and maybe put in a little more effort those days. I don’t think that is the best way that beauty can relate to happiness in our lives. First of all, there is no evidence that beautiful people are happier. There are also statistics about how the conventionally attractive ones earn more money—more so for men than for women, but that is another story. They might be seen as more competent or more likable but there is no evidence that they are happier. Science has shown that as we get older we do get happier, which is contrary to what some people think but when they look at their lives that is what they see. I’d like to see us applying the same thinking to beauty, recognizing that most people look how they feel on a day-to-day basis, and they do feel better at this age and possibly even more as they continue to age so they will also look better. I would like to see women trust their instincts more and draw on their real life experience instead of looking at what the media and advertising are telling you with all these messages about youth being something that we need to cling to. Our real lived experience shows the genuine connection between our own form of beauty and our own happiness as well.

Women learn to trust more what they have to offer just on a pure physical level—the more that they learn to highlight that, the better they feel. Maybe sometimes you do mask, because some days putting on lipstick transforms the way that you look at yourself and that can be an important tool towards shifting your mindset. I remember talking to an Iraqi war veteran not long ago, and she said that in the Army you learn how to apply camouflage makeup, and that after doing hers, making her face blend into the background, when she looked in the mirror she saw herself as a soldier. It changed the way that she view herself and she now applies that to the way she wears makeup in her daily life. When we put on our face, our “war paint”, it transforms the way that we see ourselves, and that could be something joyous there for women to draw on.

The concept of mature beauty in women around the world and from many different paths of life is interesting. For example, I haven’t interviewed women from France yet but from what I understand from just talking with French women and women from some other European countries is that the age range in which women in the media are considered beautiful is much larger. There is a scene in “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, where she goes to Italy in her late thirties and she is surprised that men aren’t chasing her down the street like they did when she was 20. And another character says something like, “It’s not like France, where they dig the old babes.” You look at French movies and mature women play the leads and they are seen as beautiful and sensuous. That is happening more in America but we have a ways to go still. Other cultures have a stronger holistic view of beauty. Many Asian cultures revere the elderly—for them it is a given that you would take in your parents and/or your grandparents as they age, there is an understanding of the respect that accumulated years of life give you. We don’t understand that yet in our culture; we understand it intellectually but we don’t value aging that way; at least our generation doesn’t.

In the past twenty years there has been a change of our roles in our society, which is wonderful for women for the most part. Our grandmothers could only be housewives and mothers, maybe career women but they couldn’t have children, or they had to choose. Women from our generation have so many more options, which is wonderful, but that can also be overwhelming. In America, we are looking to beauty as “here’s a role that we can fill”—certainly it’s the role that women are told to fill. What I would like to see happen is, as America and the West in general become more comfortable with the variety of roles that women can play now, that we can opt-in and opt-out of, that beauty will become one of many roles we will begin to see in a more holistic sense. I’m not trying to say that Asian cultures are doing that already but there is more understanding that a 65-year-old woman has a lot to offer to the world and to the younger and maybe more active members of society, and I don’t think we get that fact yet. Once we get closer to that, it will help us understand a holistic concept of beauty.

We are the first generation that has had the opportunity to see women we considered starlets in our twenties, grow in to be who they are now. Julia Roberts, is still on magazine covers after her mid forties, Helen Hunt is in her fifties. Julianne Moore, who is a mature woman who is still seen beautiful, is 52, the same age that Rue McClanahan was when she was cast in the Golden Girls. When you think of that—McClanahan was a beautiful woman but she was seen as a senior citizen, she was an “old woman”, while Julianne Moore is a sex symbol! But there is a counterargument to be made: At what age can women stop trying to be seen as beautiful? That’s another discussion; as far as understanding that women over 25 are sexual creatures, that’s a positive move for us to be seeing, we’re lucky that we get to see that now in our lives.

There is no secret or magic bullet. If you eat healthfully, exercise, get enough sleep, drink a lot water, don’t smoke and don’t drink much alcohol, that will show up in the way that you look. You can dye your hair if it starts to go gray but there is no way to fake that natural glow that comes from taking care of yourself, and I certainly did not understand that in my twenties, not at all. I thought advice telling us to take care of ourselves was a trick to get us to do the healthy things—I felt fine no matter what I did in my twenties. Now, the difference is amazing—if I’m in a heavy work schedule and I can’t get to the gym for a few weeks, I can tell in my energy, I can tell in my face. It’s not that I look ugly is that I don’t have that natural glow that you get when you do everything you should be doing. Women in our age understand that a lot more.

There are certain things that you can do like using retinoid creams, which are the only thing that has been proved to work on fine lines and wrinkles. They’re a little expensive but they last for months and with that I’ve seen a difference in my skin. I can’t recommend them enough, they work wonderful. I wasn’t great at eating a lot of vegetables before—eating a salad takes a long time and I just don’t have the time to sit there and eat twelve ounces of greens, so almost every day I have a green smoothie and I get all my vegetables for the day. I get other vegetables throughout the day as well, but if I don’t have a chance, it falls under one smoothie. That’s my biggest trick: the green smoothie. As far as muscle loss, I’ve been going to the gym regularly for ten years, but I only started seriously strength training a few years ago and I feel amazing, I can tell the difference in my body. I don’t want to say I look younger because I don’t, but I look better than I did five years ago, even though I look five years older, so I can’t recommend strength training enough. I see a lot of women in the gym just spending all this time in the treadmill, running is good for you but only until certain point; if you want to keep your metabolism up you have to strength train and you will feel and see the difference in your body. It’s been a wonderful journey for me. I wish more women weren’t afraid to pick up heavy weights—you are not going to get big and bulky. I lift the heaviest weights I can and I got some muscle there but I’m not the Hulk or anything, so you are not going to get too big.

Understand what your features are. If you are insecure about that or you are not genuinely sure, there are makeup artists that can help you identify your best attributes, like “you have these amazing lips let’s play them up by doing this”. Most women in this age know what their gifts are, we all have times that we look in the mirror and we feel amazing. I see this more and more as we age, and I just want more women to be able to embrace what is striking, unusual, or just sexy about them. This sounds cliché but is true: Confidence is attractive, confidence is sexy, and there are no shortcuts to that. Those times that you just don’t feel it, meditation helps bringing up a sense of calm that accompanies confidence. I can’t say that it directly translates, that when I’m doing a good job at meditating every day, or as often as I can, I’m more beautiful—it doesn’t work like that. But we live incredibly stressful lives and stress does show up in our faces and our bodies, therefore doing whatever you can to find some center is very helpful. In my personal case, exercise, meditation, and recognizing my need for alone time are key. I am friendly but essentially I am very introverted and I know I need a lot of time to myself. I wish I recognized that when I was younger; I spent a lot of energy putting that outward. A lot of these things come naturally to women, as they get older.

No one is going to think that you are more beautiful than you at your best believe that you are, there is a truth to that. Of course everyone looks at us and sees something different and we have no way of controlling that, but as long as there is some part of you somewhere in there that believes that you have something special to offer, people will see and respond to that. You don’t always have to feel it, but learning how to access that can be a great gift.

I was at a baby shower a few years ago where I was one of the mother-to-be’s oldest friends, and she was the oldest of her friends. It was interesting to be there with a group of twenty-three year olds. We were talking about age and I mentioned my age—I was thirty-seven then— and these women turned around and said: “You’re thirty-seven? But you look so good!” And I was like: “Thank you!” But I don’t look any better or any younger than any of my friends who are in the same age group; we know that you have to take care of yourself. When you are young you have this notion of what being thirty-something or forty-something looks like and that’s an outdated idea. Those twenty-three-year-old will see in fifteen years, that being thirty-seven doesn’t mean that you are writing yourself off, it’s the beginning in a lot of ways.

I want those twenty-three -year-old women to be reading this. I want them to see what we have done with our lives and that there is so much to be looking forward to. That sentiment is out there and growing but you still hear women who think thirty is old…Oh Gosh, not thirty! When I was twenty-three, I couldn’t wait to be in my thirties, I was so excited to turn thirty, and whenever I hear women say the same, I smile and think: Right on!

About Autumn Whitefield-Madrano: 

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Author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives (Simon & Schuster, 2016). Her writing has appeared in Marie Claire, Glamour, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, and more. She created The Beheld, a blog examining questions behind personal appearance. Her work on the ways beauty shapes women’s lives has been covered by The New York Times and the Today show. She lives in Astoria, Queens, and will tell you her beauty secrets if you tell her yours. 

Author’s Photo Credit: Siouxsie Suarez

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How My Mother Taught Me to Love

In Blogging, Contributors, Family, Giving Back=Paying It Forward, Health, News, Relationships on May 30, 2016 at 09:35

The following piece was written by Lia Seirotti, Writer and Blogger at A Girl in Her Thirties

Lia

Lia Seirotti

Some people come into our lives and we feel instant chemistry. With little effort we form a friendship that is not easily broken. Others, require time and effort, and with great difficulty we work to build those relationships. Still, in the face of rejection, if we counter with love, we can create strong bonds. That is what my mother taught me.

My mother says I rejected her almost immediately when I was born. It could be because I was dealing with the pain and symptoms caused by a slight birth defect; but I suspect my real defect was being born with a tendency to be less affectionate than most humans. From then onward, I’ve continued being somewhat cold. To this day, I prefer not to have unsolicited skin contact, I rarely ask for hugs, and I am extremely uncomfortable when strangers touch me. I am perfectly content this way. Deep down, however, I know this personality trait has always bothered my mother. In fact, my mother might well be the exact opposite of me, she is more open about her emotions and is not afraid to let her feelings show. Perhaps these are the reasons we didn’t have that instant chemistry the day we met. Rather, our bond is the product of a resilient effort made by my mother to win my affections over time.

It was with courage, through the worst of times that she single-handedly built our relationship. When I was hospitalized at the age of two, my mother dropped everything in her life to advocate for me. With much hardship, she traveled great distances in a developing country, in order for me to receive the best medical care. She stood up to doctors and demanded that I be treated the way she instinctively knew was best. Later, at the age of eight and immigrants in this new country, I was hospitalized a second time. My mother spent every night at my bedside. She comforted me through the physical pain and the fear I felt. Despite the fact that I was not very communicative or affectionate, she stayed with me. Then, when I was diagnosed with different disease at the age of twenty-one, she took care of me once again. My mother knew it was important for me as a newlywed to conserve some dignity. So, for almost a year she came to my house weekly to inject my medications, so that my husband wouldn’t have to see me that way. When I soiled myself in my own bed, she cleaned me. When I lost more weight than I expected, she took my dresses in so that I didn’t look as sick. And when the suicidal thoughts left me debilitated, she cleaned my house and cooked for my husband.

Ten years have passed since my mother last took care of me; but when my older sister called me recently to tell me my mother was in the emergency room, I dropped everything. It was the middle of a workday. Hardly thinking and without packing any clothes, I shut my computer down, got in my car, and drove six hours to be by her side. To be honest, all those moments in my life in which my mother had taken care of me didn’t even cross my mind. I was driven by pure instinct. It was almost a sixth sense that I felt. I knew exactly what my mother needed, and knew that I was the only one who understood the proper way to care for her.

I knew she would need someone who could advocate for her, because that was what she did for me when I was two. I knew she would need someone who would stay by her side every sleepless night, because that was what she did for me when I was eight. And, I knew she would want dignity and privacy because that was what she gave me when I was twenty-one. Immediately upon arriving, I organized and cleaned her room, because that was what she meticulously did for me every week when I was sick. I asked her if she had eaten and taken her medication, even when I knew she hadn’t. I knew I had to make small talk and pretend we weren’t all scared. I knew it was my job to downplay the entire situation as if it were normal, because I have learned to never let the fear of chronic illness show in your demeanor as caregiver.

Now that my mother is recovering, we hardly speak of illness, she knows I’d rather not get emotional. But now we both know now that I am capable of caring for her and that I will when she needs it again. In fact, I don’t remember if I hugged her or kissed her, but I know I cared for her and loved her.

Doctors say there is a vital moment immediately after birth in which a mother and child should have uninterrupted skin to skin contact. They attribute this to being key in any mother-child relationship. While that may be true, I have learned that if you missed that chance you can make up for it with resiliency, compassion, and consideration. Without realizing or intending to, my mother taught me so many invaluable lessons about love. She has shown me that even if you feel you already deserve it and shouldn’t have to, you can work to earn someone’s affections. She taught me how to nurse someone you love. She modeled what unconditional love looks like and taught me that it can triumph over unrequited love.

About Lia:

Lia is a writer, blogger, and art-lover. Ultimately, just a girl in her thirties blogging about Miami’s lifestyle, her travels, and growing up in general on her coming of age blog: www.agirlinherthirties.com.

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Trend Alert: ¡Tú misma!

In Blogging, Contributors, En Español, Fashion=Moda, Lifestyle, News, Relationships on March 2, 2016 at 09:00

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 Por Anya Piña

Hace unos 50 años, los logos que aparecían en las prendas de vestir eran exclusivamente para mostrar la calidad y origen de la misma. Hoy en día quien no lleva una prenda con logo de diseñador “no está a la moda”. Pero nos hemos detenido a pensar por qué y cómo hemos llegado a este punto? La respuesta es simple: Nos hemos embriagado de publicidad.

La publicidad nos dicta qué vestir, qué comer, en  qué trabajar, cómo llevar nuestro pelo, qué ropa interior utilizar y hasta cómo debería lucir nuestro cuerpo. ¿Increíble, no? Las marcas cada día ganan más adeptos lo que las puede convertir en probables vencedoras de una batalla que ha desencadenado la moda, esto, por supuesto, si no actuamos al respecto.

Si buscamos la definición de moda en el diccionario podríamos encontrar una respuesta como esta: Se trata de un conjunto de tendencias en el vestir (ropa, accesorios), en los estilos de vida y en las maneras de comportarse, que marcan o modifican (temporalmente) la conducta de una o varias personas.  (Nótese que no indica que hay que usar prendas de marca.) Si me preguntas te diría que la Moda es la ropa, accesorio o complemento (con o sin marca) que usas siempre y cuando le sienta bien a tu cuerpo y por supuesto te haga sentir bien a ti mismo, o ¿acaso hay algo que pueda ser más tendencia que sentirse bien con uno mismo? Definitivamente es una tendencia que debería propagarse, en vez de querer encajar en un cuerpo, prenda o estilo de vida que no nos pertenece y que a la larga no nos hará feliz.

Estudié periodismo y mercadeo de modas y por lo mismo hablo con base y pasión sobre el tema, sé cómo llegar a venderte un producto que no necesitas, y por supuesto sé cómo no caer en la trampa de comprarlo cuando es lo contrario (me costó un poco lograrlo, pero es posible). Debemos detener el consumismo de marcas que idealizan un estilo de vida y personalidades inalcanzables, muchas veces inexistentes. ¡Esa persona NO eres tú y nunca lo serás! Debes aprender a vestirte, actuar y ser como realmente eres, no como dicta la propaganda.

En estos tiempos llevamos  los logos de marcas para identificar de dónde venimos, quiénes somos, y lo más importante, quiénes queremos ser, pero estamos haciéndolo de forma equivocada. ¿Para qué comprar una cartera Balenciaga si no te hará feliz? Por supuesto que puede adornar tu atuendo y lucir preciosa pero, ¿es realmente necesaria? Te garantizo que después que la uses unas tres veces pasará al olvido, sin embargo, tener un momento memorable en el cual lucir un bolso (independientemente de que sea de marca o no) debería ser el objetivo.

Hagamos que el lucir lo mejor posible, con lo poco o mucho que tengamos, hacer y construir relaciones positivas  y duraderas en las cuales estemos en contacto y no siempre a través de un “iPhone”, sea la moda, la tendencia.

Usa  lo que tengas, reinventa tus prendas, no salgas corriendo a adquirir lo que te dice la prensa, en vez de ello, creemos momentos que duren para siempre, sin importar si en ellos llevábamos o no atuendos de marcas, al final del camino, cómo la pasamos y cómo nos sentimos será lo que recordaremos, no de que diseñador íbamos vestidos.

 Empecemos y contagiemos a los demás de esta nueva tendencia: ¡Ser tú misma! 🙂

 

Sobre Anya:

Fashion Marketing & Writer

Email: pineapplerulesrd@gmail.com

IG/Snap/TW: @Anyapfdc

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