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Crossing The Bridge: Meet Vanesa Paredes

In Career, Family, Lifestyle, News, Relationships on December 12, 2016 at 14:00

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Vanesa Paredes, 34, is an Argentine film director and producer, born in Buenos Aires, a city she describes as full of art and movement. Her mother, a housewife with a taste for theater, drawing and music, was the one who influenced her and her siblings (dancers, actors and musicians) in the art world.
Vanesa always wanted to tell stories, since a young age, she drew on every blank paper she could find, invented and wrote stories, drew cartoons. With the help of her art teacher, in high school, she found the perfect profession: Filmmaking. She started her studies at the prestigious University of Buenos Aires. Before graduating, she started working as a cameraman and video editor, first at a record company in the visual area, later, as an editor at an important company located in Buenos Aires.
Living in Buenos Aires, she was friends with children of Asian families and from other countries of Latin America. She always had a special interest in the experiences of travelers and an empathy towards immigrants.  She wondered how it felt to live between two worlds. What was it about living away from your culture and your language? How did it feel to share and learn new customs and ways of life? She felt in them the pain of uprooting and the feeling of being between two cultures, without feeling 100% part of any of them. She graduated as an audiovisual designer with a thesis on this subject and in 2012, she did a lively short on this topic.
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Vanesa’s life was good. At 29, she got engaged to her boyfriend of three years, a good man who loved her enormously. However, deep inside, she knew she was not ready to take that important step.
“I was always a curious person with an adventurous spirit. I felt that something had been relegated in my life. I felt the need to travel, to see the world, to explore, to hear stories, to be by myself. My family is very traditional, I was about 30 years old, and everyone thought that it was the ideal time to get married and have children. I had found a wonderful man, why shouldn’t I want to marry him? I tried to keep myself strong on my decision to get married, because it was supposed to be the right one. I was lying to myself and he felt my doubts, he knew me enough to see that I wasn’t sure about it, so he asked me what I really wanted, and in that moment, I realized that I wanted to follow my dreams of traveling and exploring the world. We cried and hugged, we said goodbye and I made the conscious decision of changing my life. It wasn’t easy, I loved him, but it wasn’t my time to be a wife and mother; and for him that was a priority.
 
After a few months, I got a working holiday visa in New Zealand and my adventure started. I was so excited and happy! I wanted to learn English; I wanted to see the world. I couldn’t believe that my life had changed so much in such a short time. I have been in 12 countries in the last three years. I have seen wonderful things, I have met many people and I had the opportunity to work on what I love. At the moment, I am 34, and all these experiences have made me stronger and more independent. My life is a continuous adventure. I do not regret my decision. When you listen to your heart, there is no way things can go wrong. My ex-fiancé got married and became the father of a beautiful daughter. He is happy with his new family, I am happy for him and he is happy for me. We both fulfilled our dreams and we are still friends.”
After 2.5 years doing all kinds of work, but always, looking for the opportunity to do what she loved, she found the opportunity to keep working as a filmmaker in New Zealand. She has participated in different audiovisual projects and was presented with the possibility of participating in “Crossing The Bridge”a creative collective founded by Mauritian Anthropologist Sophie-Claire Violette supported by Creative Editor Lucy Holland from New Zealand and now, also supported by Vanesa as a filmmaker. They create visual and experiential projects with a strong anthropological focus. Their first eponymous project “Crossing The Bridge; Exploring Identity and Belonging in Ashburton’s Migrant Community” told the stories of twenty one migrants and their experiences integrating into the rural town of Ashburton | New Zealand. This project is extremely close to Vanesa’s heart as she can feel in her own flesh what her immigrant friends felt living in Argentina.
“With perseverance and following our hearts and true dreams, we can fulfill everything. Our work in “Crossing The Bridge” is the best example.” For more about Vanesa Paredes and Crossing The Bridge please visit: www.crossingthebridge.co
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Bye-bye 30s!

In Career, Contributors, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on August 7, 2015 at 10:10

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By AK Cespedes

My 30s started with a breakup. He and I weren’t as compatible as I thought we were when we were in our 20s. I had chosen to stay with him too many times, talking myself out of walking out. Afraid to be alone until I finally chose to let him go.

By 31, I was living in my new apartment. I was still reckless with my money and my heart, feeling vulnerable and overly confident at the same time. I was desperately looking for my prince charming, the man of my dreams, the man who would make his wife, his queen, the mother of his children. I hadn’t realized that I needed to become the woman of my dreams first, the queen of my home, the b**** in charge.

And so I became involved with the wrong man…again. And for 6 years I woke up each day knowing that I was not where I wanted to be and he wasn’t the man for me. I hadn’t recognized that I had a voice and I needed to listen to it, but the fear of the unknown was too strong. During those 6 years, I sought signs everywhere and waited for something to find me, guide me…rescue me.

Turning 40 was not something I was looking forward to at that time. I was afraid that I was never going to meet that man or that I was never going to have children. I tormented myself with thoughts like “my grandmothers are old and they’ll never meet my children” and I thought of the women in my family who had never gotten married or had children. They were alone and sad. I was terrified of becoming like them.

When I finally let go of that relationship of 6 years, I felt like I had reached the surface of the ocean. Like the world had just rolled off my shoulders. I had been carrying all this emotional weight to the point that it had turned physical. I was 30 lbs overweight. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I was destroyed. I needed to recharge with urgency.

So I took off to Paris because why not? And I had sex with a French man on my 37th birthday.

And I enjoyed

every

second

of it.

Suddenly, I felt like a kid in a candy store, like I could do anything! So I quit my job of 8 years and took off for 43 days to travel. I went to Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary. I turned 38 in a club in Bologna getting free vanilla vodka shots from the bar owner. I danced with the owner of the Firenze train station and was hung-over the next morning. And I was happy.

At that time too, I decided it was time to forgive myself for everything and allow for a clean slate.

By 38, I was doing a lot. I launched myself as a photographer and I couldn’t believe how smooth things started flowing from there. I had 4 gallery showings within a year. I read a poem in front of an audience. I chose to change my body. I chose to become the best version of myself before I turned 40. I needed a massive makeover: physical, emotional, spiritual, mentaland then some.

Now I’m a few months away from the big 4-0. I haven’t found the man of my dreams, but I am the woman of mine. I don’t have the children that I had been longing for, but I’ve allowed myself to be a child again and stand under the sun and breath the ocean air and drive with the windows down. Every day became the best day. I didn’t recognize myself anymore and not because I became a redhead and lost those 30 lbs. I had found that person that was always there. I had come full circle. I had rescued myself. I had found peace.

So 40, bring it! I am not afraid of you, I love you and I embrace you. I embrace you like I embrace the lines on my face, the grays in my hair, and the scars on my heart. There’s no going back to where I’ve been, my 40s will be the best decade yet!

And to you my 30s, thank you. You showed me what true love really was. You shook me up and redefined “rolling with the punches.” I learned to listen to myself and to those who were there to offer their experiences and life lessons. I learned to stop beating myself up for my mistakes, but rather celebrate each of my accomplishments. I learned to let go and to trust that my life was going to be everything that I wanted to it to be.

About AK Cespedes:

Peruvian-born, Miami-resident, daughter, sister, friend, traveler, photographer, food-lover, drinker, spectacular. Check out her previous post in our blog: “Me at 38” and her amazing photographs at: flickr.com/bluedress7

P. S.: It’s A. K.’s birthday today! Let’s show her our love! Happy birthday, my dear Karina! Thanks for opening up and sharing the best of you with us!

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“I don’t mind that 30 isn’t what I imagined it would be because I love where life has taken me”

In Career, Contributors, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on July 4, 2014 at 09:25

Susie Dantzig

By Susie Dantzig

 As a child, 30 was old.  Even when I got to college, I thought my 22-year-old RA was old, so 30 was ancient.  A 30 year old was a grown-up, someone with a nice paying job, a house, kids, and a person who others called “sir” or “ma’am.” Now that I am 30, I don’t feel the need to adhere to any pre-conceived notion of what I thought 30 should be. We’ll start with relationships first. I have been in a loving, committed relationship for almost five years. We live together, work together, play together, and have committed ourselves to each other in every way, but we feel absolutely no need to get married, let alone have kids, any time soon. We enjoy having the time and finances to go out to eat where we want, travel, train for races, play in the local orchestra, live in the city. The kids will come, but not for another five years or so, and we’ll enjoy each other in the meantime. I mentioned finances, so we’ll approach that and career status next. I went to a top ranked university and at times I feel like I haven’t been as successful professionally or financially as my colleagues. But I like to remind myself that while those goals are worthy to strive for, I have accomplished so much outside of the office. I’ve run three marathons, I’ve travelled the world, I am in the community orchestra, I have a master’s degree, and I am writing a book teaching children the violin. It might be a while before I rise above middle management at the office, but I love my job and I make a salary that affords me to take care of myself and enjoy the activities I’ve mentioned. I don’t mind that 30 isn’t what I imagined it would be because I love where life has taken me.  Who knows where I’ll be at 40, but if I’m as happy then as I am today then life will be good.

About Susie:

Author of “Val the Violin: A Violin Instruction Book for Players in Pre-School & Up”. Growing up in the D.C. area, Susie Dantzig earned a B.A. in Music and Biology from the University of Virginia and furthered her music education with a Master’s in Music Business from the University of Miami. She currently resides in D.C., working for a performing rights organization. 

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Learning From Those Younger Than Us

In Career, Finances, Great Articles Found Doing Research, Lifestyle, News, Relationships, Spirituality, Videos on March 3, 2014 at 12:47

One of the things that I enjoy the most in life is to be surrounded by creative people. I like them even more when they are young and they become my favorites when they have a positive attitude and they use their work to spread it.

As a production professional and a strong believer of the message of this piece, I am happy and proud to share with you the short film  “NICA”  about a mid-20’s young man trades in his dismal 9-5 lifestyle in an urban metropolis for a “simpler life” thousands of miles away.

One of my goals in my thirties is to never stop learning, especially from those younger than us!

Enjoy and please let me know your thoughts!

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“What list?”

In Beauty, Contributors, Family, Finances, Lifestyle, Relationships on August 9, 2013 at 11:14

By Michelle Fairweather

Michelle Fairweather

Something happened to me during my 29th year of life…I started to feel old. I don’t know when it happened. Maybe it was when I saw the increasing number of grey hairs in the rear view mirror each morning. Maybe it was when I was tagged in that photo that was clearly taken to show my ever-deepening wrinkles. It may have been that fateful Sunday when I realized it was taking me a whole weekend to function after a not so heavy Friday night. Or maybe it was when I found myself realizing that certain body parts who normally enjoyed a rather ‘north’ vantage point had started to migrate south. It could have been when I stopped going to weddings and started attending baby showers and, ever increasing in popularity, divorce parties. It might even have been when my 16-year-old godson, the godson whose nappies I remember changing, called me for relationship advice…No, stop the press, now I remember…The sinking feeling that life was well on the down slide to aging occurred when a good friend pointed out that my days of a 20-something-year-old female were numbered. I won’t lie, turning 30 was horrendous. I put on a brave face and told everyone it wasn’t that bad but really my trained counsellor self was only easing others’ fears, because deep down I was dreading it.

Why was turning 30 such a dreadful experience? It was because something, someone, somewhere was making me take stock of my 30 years and measure them against a ‘list’ of expected accomplishments. I don’t know how this list exists, it’s not written down anywhere, no one tells you, no one hands you a secret envelope that self destructs after reading, and it doesn’t arrive in the mail in disguise as a birthday card. However, let me assure you, the list is very real and it appears to be available in any language. It exists inside every 29-year-old and is screaming out at you with every dwindling 29th year sunset. It’s the list that determines how successful you are. It determines how proud you can be at your high school reunions and it gives you a method in which to measure the productivity of the past 30 years. If you score well you can kick back, relax and hold your head high whilst you blow out those 30 candles. If you score badly, well, huff those candles out before you set the place on fire with the knowledge that you’ve got your work cut out before you get to the next marker of 40.

So, what did I find when I sat down with pen and paper and the list?

Well, in regards to housing I didn’t have a picket fence, I was still house sharing. Under relationships, I noted I wasn’t married and I certainly didn’t have children. I was yet to work in my field of study and against assets, well, even if you let me count my pushbike, I was pretty much asset-less.

So, what section of this mysterious list could I check off? I’ve travelled. In actual fact, I’ve travelled a lot. I uprooted my life at 27 and have lived in three different countries. I’ve seen the gorillas in the mist in the depths of the Congolese jungle. I’ve watched the fireworks over Paris as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. I’ve eaten a champagne breakfast in the Masai Mara and I’ve laid in-between two sleeping tigers in a canyon in Bangkok. I’ve stood over the grave of the mighty King Henry and I’ve learnt what a joy blackcurrant and true Irish Guinness is. Last but not least I’ve clocked up enough frequent flyer points to possibly do it all again. Yet, when compared to the list I am left with one measly section marked off.

Who is it that determines what the list should include? Who states what makes a successful 30-year-old? When compared to a mother and a wife who is on maternity leave from her dream job why should I hang my head in shame and feel the need to explain that I had been out of the country for 3 years? Why did I feel the need to uproot my life again at 30 and head home to my country of origin in search of ways to mark more items off the list? Really what I should have done is asked my two 30+ housemates to help me look for the originator of the list. That way we could have sent them a lovely gift basket full of food that they may, possibly, one day, choke on.

My advice to all those 29 year olds…If the positive in your life outweighs the negative, hold your head high and scream from the rooftops that you embrace the wisdom that being 30 brings. When that doesn’t take away the dread, just remember a celebrity such as Jennifer Anniston. At 30 she was still not married, not yet divorced, was childless and had a dreadful haircut? Success is what you make of it. Ignore the list at all costs!

About Michelle:

Born in Adelaide, South Australia to British parents, Michelle grew up with the aim to one day travel the world. When rapidly approaching 30 and after exploring the track farless trodden in places such as Africa and Asia, Michelle settled in the UK for three years. However, when the need to buy furniture and fancy cutlery became too strong, she returned to her hometown to determine if it was still home. A graduate of psychology, Michelle knows this move will not be easy but is excited about what’s ahead on the other side of 30.

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