Celebrating yourself: Valentine’s Season.

So as most of you have probably already noticed, it is that time of year again… Valentine’s Season.

Everything seems to be glazed over in pink and red, the engagement ring commercials are non-stop, the Victoria Secret (for some odd reason) is making you feel like you need some red lingerie, drugstores are being transformed by candied hearts, teddy bears and roses, and just as they say, love seems to be is in the air. It is that time of year again… that holiday that seems to have no middle ground, no grey area… it is either a wonderful or a tragic time… it’s Valentine’s Season!

It happens every year: the ‘I hate Valentine’s Day’ parties, the ‘bashing of exes and people-who-are-in-love’ fests, and the eating chocolate and drinking wine till it’s better remedy that never seems to quite work. And I am first to admit it… I have done ALL of these! I have even been on the opposite spectrum: I have been THAT obnoxious, lovey-dovey couple who can’t get enough of each other (which is equally as annoying as the bashers I might add). I have made the season all about the person I love. Made sure to find them that perfect gift, buying them cards and candies, taking the time to write a love letter to tell them how wonderful they are, and really making the day about them (which is in no means a bad thing). But as I sit here and think on myself, I find that there really isn’t that many times I have done all that for myself… I never tell myself how wonderful I am, or point out the positives I find in me. When do I celebrate myself? I mean, how many times in a day do you find your inner-voice saying: ‘WORKOUT!”, “Your hair looks like shit! @&$^@*”, “Put the cookie down fat-ass!”, “I’ll never be good enough”, “He hates me… I wish I wasn’t this way”, “I can’t do that”, “I wish I looked like her”, “I need to change”, “He told me he no longer loves me, I feel so empty now…”? Cause I do it.

I find myself apologize for the way I am, beating myself up, and judging myself based on what other people think of me, on a daily basis. I too often times define myself around people, and I do not take the time out to define myself, my interests, my hope and dreams, and why I am a great person on my own. And really… that’s a damn shame.

My challenge to myself, and to everyone else reading this, is to, despite whether you have a significant other or not, to make this Valentine’s Day a little less about someone else, and a little bit more about you. And maybe even make this challenge not just for Valentine’s Day, but for everyday. To make everyday a little bit more about defining who you are and finding your own happiness, and a little less about beating yourself up. I honestly think we should all stop depending on others for our happiness so much (myself included)!

Being able to be happy alone, proud of your accomplishments, defining who you are, not focusing on your shortcoming, and being able to celebrate and love yourself, in my opinion, is sexy and beautiful!

So, to wrap it up (hehe, romantic pun much?), take a little more time this season to focus of who you are, why you are wonderful, and how no one has the power to define who you are unless you let them.

Happy Valentine’s Season you sexy things!! 😉

“Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
– Veronica A. Shoffstall

More wonderful, loving yourself quotes 🙂

XOXO.

1 Comment

Filed under Opinion, SoulBeats

And we travel next to find ourselves.

Third times the charm.

In two week my third and last semester in beautiful Florence, Italy will begin. I will have known Italy as my home for a year by the time I finally leave Amerigo Vesppucci in May, and this thought is tragic for me… I know my heart will be broken. I don’t know what will come of me after I say goodbye to the love of my life (Florence), but I do know that this last semester will be my best yet! SO EXCITED!!!!

How do I know this?… well let me explain (hehehe)

My bags are lighter this time. Not only because I have become a pro packer 😉 , but because this time I am finally leaving that extra emotional ‘baggage’ I have totting around with me these past two semesters, behind. I am finally at peace with myself.

Third times the charm.

It’s funny… shouldn’t I be stressing out a little more about a four month long trip across the world? But I’m not. I haven’t really even thought too much about packing… and I am not stressed at all. It’s wonderful! I think it shows that awesome characteristic I have picked up in Italy: easy goes it, everything works out. 

This semester will be much different than my last two. I am no longer be living in the touristy city center. I am living 30 minutes outside of the city (near the beautiful hills of Fiesole. Hills, grass, trees, yippie!!)… basically where no one speaks English (thank god!), and I am finally living with an Italian! Not an American, not a Mexican, but a Florentine 🙂 I will also, amazingly enough, be in an the advanced Italian class (can we pause for a moment and consider how amazing this is!?!…. a year ago at this time I was getting ready for my first trip to Italy, and the only word I knew was, ciao)… as you can imagine, I feel very accomplished.

Third times the charm.

Last week I got introduced to this quote by a friend, and literally I have not stopped thinking about it:

‘We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel next to find ourselves.’

A year ago I found myself in this big new world. I left my home, and I was in wonder-lust. I was brave, but nothing could top how brave I was the next semester when I changed everything. I dropped out of school in the States and went back to Italy alone. I was no longer labeled as a TCU student, I was labeled as an independent student. I did it alone. I met people I would never have dreamed to met, and my ideas of myself, my future and my goals were definitely yo-yoed around. I initially lost myself, both in a wonderful and tragic way.

I came home… and home is a hard thing when you no longer see it as a home anymore.

Third times the charm.

This semester I am finally having the opportunity to take some studio classes. I’ll have the opportunity to define myself without that extra ‘baggage’ I’ve been carrying around for years, and I think setting myself up outside of the city will really put me right where I want to be: in real Italy! You know, shinny jackets, Hogans, cigarettes, gelled hair, small cars, the works. The next four months will be the closest to Italian I’ll ever be 😉

So heres to next semester and the beautiful hopes and dreams I see blossoming before me.

1 Comment

Filed under SoulBeats, TravelBeats

Remedial math: Life’s little equations.

Your life is made up of your own equation, and your happiness, health and situation are its outcome. The food you eat, the things you read, and the people you add into your life, all effect that equation. Life is about balancing and eventually finding your own perfect equilibrium.

But, there are factors out there making this balancing act a tough one. Factors such as emotions, passions, wants, and preconceived needs, that make this addition and subtraction of the good and the bad a real bitch. And then there are also those tricky factors. Those ones that deceive you. The ones that feel so positive, but are really just so negative. They are the things that add the bad ‘ju-ju’ in your life, the things that only result in the hurt, low self-esteem, and heartbreak. It’s these hidden evils, like a pieces of double-fudge chocolate cake, that seem so good, but in reality they are just bad.

Recently in my life negatives have been effecting my equation and unfortunately been turning my positive energy southwards.

The kicker is, this negative force in my life blinds me. It blinds me with its sugarey-coated wonderfulness, my feelings of needing it, and it has only left me with a killer case of food poisoning…

It’s the dangerous energies like these that I find myself losing sleep for, lying awake crying for, and making me feel heartbreak. It’s the mental baggage that wont go away- it’s that five pounds on your ass you just can’t seem to get rid of. And it’s so easy to just say, well, hello… subtract the negatives and add the positives! But the reality is, it’s not that easy. Yet the only way to ever be happy and balanced is to toughen up, and force the negatives out of your life.

 

Finding the positives…

-She is gives me hope, she is my role model.

-We have such wonderful, thought-provoking conversations.

-He makes me smile. 

This book changed my perspective on stereotyping and judging others and their cultures.

She made me think twice.

Traveling gives me the greatest sense of independence.

Helping him helped me

He gives me honest love.

Finding those positives are important, and once you find them make sure and not to forget to add them into your life daily.

 

Finding the negatives…

She makes me feel so self-conscious about my lifestyle. 

He degrades me and pushes me down, destroying my self-esteem.

That magazine told me I’m not beautiful.

Why does that movie represent women as objects? Why does that song make women hoes, sluts and bitches?

Smoking has made climbing the stairs harder.

You make me so angry I could explode.

I am so jealous of her.

Yet the thing about subtracting the negatives is, is that you usually have forces making it feel impossible to do so. So we don’t ever subtract them, we hold onto them, and then throw the blame of why they are in our lives onto to something other than ourselves:

I’m addicted.

The media is pushed on me.

I love him.

All my friends invited me to go see that movie, I couldn’t say no.

There is always junk food in my house.

I don’t have time.

Nothing ever goes my way.

I’m not strong enough to change it.

 

And its hard. You have to make yourself strong. You have to be stronger than your negatives, and push them out. It’s only practice and experience that can make achieving balance easier- and it is this beautiful challenge, the finding of the things you love, the things that help you grow, and being able to let go of the rest, the negatives, that makes life the greatest equation.

1 Comment

Filed under Opinion, SoulBeats

Observing Florence: San Frediano

I once again found myself walking over the Ponte alla Carraia, but this time I cannot help but think on Mary McCarthy.

Taking us back to the year 1304 in Florence, McCarthy tells of a performance held on this very spot.

Below the bridge, a performance, which was a depiction of hell, was performed on a makeshift theatre floating on boats. The spectators, who came to view the performance, filled the bridge to capacity, and due to the overload of weight, the bridge collapsed, and the people ironically fell to their deaths.

 

As I walked along the bridge today, I for the first time, thought on a violent past instead of the beautiful, idealistic, and manipulated present of Florence.

Looking down at the water, I imagined what it must have looked like: the night sky being illuminated with fire, noise, and satanic dance, and the air being suffocated by shrikes, the sound of fire and the sudden collapse of everything falling into the water. And hundreds of years later, here I stand, walking over the Carraia, and think on their souls.

 

 

After crossing the bridge, I turned left and began walking on an unknown path, with a hopeful destination: un panino con lampredotto in Borgo San Frediano.

As I wondered a bit through the ‘most Florentine area in Florence’, I sudden knew I had arrived at my destination before I even saw it. The smell of food, pulled me around the corner, and brought me face to face with Piazza de’Nerli.

 

The piazza itself was not a particularly beautiful place. Used almost like a parking lot, and with no quaint or beautiful buildings, it was in every sense, nothing special. Yet immediately, I love it.

The piazza had clothing and jewelry stalls, filled with ugly things, but enchanting people. A cloud of old, short Italian women gossiped and shuffled around the small market.

And I could not help but smile.

 

As I reach the Lampredotto stand I approached slowly, instantly observing the fact that I was the only young woman in sight.

The stand, and its make shift dinning room was filled with only men (an intimidating factor to any woman who is trying something new).

I waited awkwardly, until I finally hear,

 

-Dimmi!

Replying, I calmly delivered my Elementary Italian,

-Posso avere un panino con lampredotto?

-Certo, con tutto?

-Si, Grazie.

 

Ffffuuuueeewwww… a successful order.

 

I watched as the man prepared my sandwich.

Slicing the bread roll in half, he piled on the lampredotto, the salsa verde and the salsa picante. Dipping the top bun in broth, he wrapped up my sandwich and presented me with my first panino con lampredotto, a seriously typical food of Florence.

I sat in the corner chair, as the best watch the men who came in and out of the stand, and commenced.

Unwrapping my sandwich, I felt like the nervous tourist looking down at her first ever bite of cow’s stomach, and I could almost feel all the Italian men around me staring in anticipation for my opinion and reaction.

 

Biting into the moist panino, it was surprising very good… something I had definitely not expected from this experience.

Funny thing was, this unidentifiable meat, its odd texture and the spicy sauce, oddly reminded me of home in Texas.

It reminded me of afternoon lunches in Mexican Taquerias, a place where you never knew exactly what you were going to get, but no matter what, you always knew it was going to be good!

 

-Questa e la mia prima volta provare un panino con lampredotto, è molto bene!

-Brava! Brava ragazza! The man pronounced to all.

-Buongiornata! Ciao ciao!

 

God my Italian is horrible! …Thank God I am in Italy where a pretty face and a smile can get you anywhere!

 

 

After a lunch of Tuscan fast food, I was in need of a café to wash down the idea and fact that cow stomach that was now sitting in my own stomach.

Walking towards the direction of Piazza Tasso, I entered the first bar I saw and order a café. The barista, a grumpy and prefect, old Italian man, made me a coffee with the most beautiful crema on top.

Looking around, and sipping my café, I enjoyed to visions of an old woman eating a sweet cake for lunch, Italian men gossiping at the bar, lottery tickets and slot machines adding cheap thrills to the atmosphere, a wall lined with colorful cigarettes and the smell of coffee drifting through the air.

For it is true, most everything I love about Italy, can and will be found in a cafe.

 

As the bells chimed 1’oclock, I started heading back to the main city center. And gratefully, I realized that sometimes only going one street, one piazza, one day, or one risk further, you can, and will eventually find yourself right where you want to be.

Leave a comment

Filed under SoulBeats, TravelBeats

The world beneath your feet: Day at Auschwitz

You feel the cold water splashing over your face. It drips down your neck as you slowly turn off the water. Staring at the old tile walls in front of you, you almost cannot believe it is already the end, and you are only 20.

Rubbing your eyes and feeling like the darkness you see. You send a pray up to a God you hope receives it.

Silently, like a machine, you take off your clothes. Carefully and slowly, making extra care as you fold your uniform. You are observing yourself doing this from what seems like an eagle-eyes perspective. Feeling completely unattached from yourself. Knowing this will be the last time you will ever feel cold water against your skin. And feeling okay with that.

Walking up the prison stairs, the door opens before you and the line of other intellects, Jews and Gypsies. Light floods in, and a cold wind slaps you across your naked body. Walking single fill over the sharp rocks, you precede.

But at least your still feel the earth beneath your feet.

You stand there exposed. Everything is heightened. You hear and see everything even though you wish you didn’t. You are present. Completely feeling the earth underneath your blistered feet, the weather across your bruised skin and the beating of your heart within your chest. It is so unreal. Shot after shot. The dropping of bodies to the earth. Your last seconds have finally come. What are you thinking about? 

BOOM.

The person next to you falls to the ground. Looking down at the blood that has been blasted on your arm, you finally know it is your turn. Breathing in, breathing out, you turn up and look at your executor straight in the eyes.

I try and block everything out. The people, the cameras, and the guide’s voice. I stand in that spot as everyone continues on without me. That spot, that place, which has ended so many stories. The Shotting Wall.

I am imaging those final walks, those final humanly connections, and those last moments they felt the world beneath thier feet. Imagining those final glances up at the sky, I hope that they saw a bird flutter past.

I hope there was a hint of peace in their hearts, or maybe a sliver of happiness as they thought back on their memories. The memories that the SS could have never taken away- the memories of times before Auschwitz. Before they were persecuted, judged and tortured for their race, religion or political beliefs.

I can almost hear those gun shots. The falling bodies. I can almost feel the thousands of last breaths taken on that single piece of earth. I can almost feel the hatred.

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”

1 Comment

Filed under HistoryBeats