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Bad Habits I Broke in 2017

wellness, Real Talk, Popular, Lifestyle, HealthMaría Elena RodríguezComment

We all have bad habits. Whether we know about them or not, we do. Maybe you've had a problem with sugar, picking on your face for years (🙋🏻) or simply procrastinating too much. The important thing here is knowing exactly what are the things that are holding back with your goals and making a conscious effort to change them. And now that the new year is almost here, it's time to do a recap. 

I think I have talked enough about how much I've changed this year, but in case you're interested, you can click here, here or here. So here are the bad habits I had to break in order to make this huge life transformation. Enjoy! 

complaining about things I could change

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: By the end of 2016 I was feeling a bit miserable with my life and felt really low energy. But instead of looking for a solution, I was just feeling sorry for myself. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: You need to change your mindset completely. Every time I didn't like something, I looked for ways I could make it work for me. If I couldn't change it, depending on the case, I would look for ways to get out of it or just make peace with it. 
  • Difficulty Level: 9/10
  • Results: I feel unstoppable and like I can solve almost anything! 

eating meat (All kinds) and processed food

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I used to be very health conscious back in my high school and college days, mostly for body image issues. But after I started working full time, I started implementing a YOLO mindset that definetely started projecting in my health. I would eat extremely well for two days and eat fried wings with french fries and dessert during the weekend, because "cheat meals" were ok. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After one failed attempt at going vegan about two years ago and watching almost every single documentary on Netflix, I decided to make the plant based lifestyle really happen for me. But this time, I decided to make a less strict approach, in which I would eat 80% vegan just so I had a 20% cushion for cravings. 
  • Difficulty Level: 5/10 (It hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be!)
  • Results: I don't eat any type of animal and even though I eat dairy and eggs 2-3 times a week, I'm craving it less and less. I feel amazing! 

Being overly critical of myself

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: Like most women, for years I kept criticizing myself for not being skinny enough and comparing myself to others. 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: The best thing you can do to stop criticizing yourself is to start accepting compliments. If someone says you look beautiful in that dress, there's no need to say "Oh! This old thing" or "You think?", just say "Thank you!" and walk away with a little more pride. There is nothing wrong in accepting your awesomeness. 
  • Difficulty Level: 6/10
  • Results: I feel beautiful from the inside out. 

going back to toxic people  

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: First, I needed to recognize the toxic people in my life. If you have friends who always leave you drained, questioning if some comments were an insult or you just feel a bad vibe around them, maybe you have some toxic people in your life. If when you read this a person popped in your mind, you need to scape soon! 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: Stop making plans with these people and get out of those group messages. Good vibes only, baby. ✌🏽
  • Difficulty Level: 8/10
  • Results: I have the most wonderful tribe of people who I support and they support me! 

working out just because I had to 

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I couldn't stick to a fitness routine for more than three months! 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After absolutely hating running, but being extremely curious about the runner's rush, I set the goal of finishing my first 5K race. Turns out all I needed to kick my bad habit was finding a workout I loved! 
  • Difficulty Level: 9/10 (but so worth it!)
  • Results: I discovered yoga, because it helps me stretch and be more mindful during my runs and I can't stop signing up for races! 

drinking to release stress

  • Recognizing the Bad Habit: I had to open a bottle of wine every single afternoon after work, just to release stress and feel "happier". 
  • Changing the Bad Habit: After I started running every morning, I noticed that my runs weren't as enjoyable if I drank the night before. Also, yoga helped me release all the stress I was feeling from the inside. 
  • Difficulty Level: 7/10
  • Results: Although I still have the ocasional glass of wine, I realized I don't need it to have fun or release stress. 

 


Now that the new year is coming up, what are some bad habits you're breaking in 2018? Let me know!

Don't forget to check out your agenda for the new year here. 

Until next time,

María Elena

#MeToo

Career, Health, Popular, Real Talk, Lifestyle, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment

Disclaimer: I feel the obligation to express that I'm well aware that the story I'm about to share doesn't even begin to compare to stories about rape and molesting. I have so much respect and admiration for people like Loraima from Lorriento who are brave enough to share their heartbreaking stories in order to empower other women to do the same. That's why even though I didn't believe I was worthy of being part of the #MeToo campaign, I'm sharing my story in the hopes of raising awareness about the importance of speaking out about men using their power to sexually misconduct. 

#metoo

I was 23 years young, starting my career in the communications industry. It was christmas season and one of the clients at the agency I was working for had a meeting/ christmas party among their business partners in a very well known male predominated industry. I was excited for this event because it would be a chance to network and meet some cool people in my field. 

When the meeting ended, I went over to the self-serving catering counter to get some food, just like everybody else. While I was serving myself some arroz mamposteao, a middle aged man came uncomfortably close behind my back, grabbed me by my waist, slowly moved his hand across it and whispered in my ear "What is the menu for today, sweety?". This man, who I had never even been introduced to or talked to before, was a partner at a very well known advertising agency. An advertising agency were I hoped I would one day work for. 

During the 5-10 seconds that moment lasted, which felt like ages, I remember feeling overwhelmingly powerless and ashamed. So ashamed that I didn't look at anyone in the eye for about an hour.

Sadly, this is not my only story about staying silent after being inappropriately touched or feeling uncomfortable around men. Most of my stories are from my teenage years, from being honked at and cat called by men in cars who saw me wearing my school uniform (let that sink in for a minute) to being touched with the index finger in the opening of my pant "to let me know that my pant's fly was open" by the father of a very close relative's friend. I was 16 years old. 

The worst part? Almost every single woman in my life has gone through a similar or a worse situation than I have. From being abused as a child by a family member to not being able to get a promotion at work because she won't sleep with her boss. It is so common and we are so used to it, that we speak about it as a normality. Complaining but not doing anything about it. Because either people won't believe us or if we speak out it would affect us in some way. 

Breaking the Silence

time 2017 person of the year

Now, it's 2017 and even though the political status is the opposite of adequate, we have a huge feminist movement that is empowering women all around the world to speak up and not only fight for our rights, but to call out all the men who have gotten away with their inappropriate behaviors without consequences. Which is why I was super excited about Time Magazine choosing their Person of the Year as the Silence Breakers. But this morning I saw this top comment on Facebook and felt immediately triggered and disappointed with humanity:

#metoo

Let me tell you exactly why I didn't speak out right away:

  • I thought I was overreacting. 
  • I thought people would tell me I was overreacting. Turns out this was the case in the rare occasion I did speak out as a teenager. 
  • For some damn reason I thought it was my fault.
  • Was it the clothes I was wearing? Did I wear too much makeup? Did I invite him in some way? No, no and definitely no. 
  • I had the delusional thought that people would automatically asume I was this man's mistress.
  • I was raised to believe that women who argue and speak up for themselves are not likable. 
  • I was so embarrassed and in shock that I just stayed there motionless and completely mute not knowing what I should say or do.
  • I thought if I said something I would've made a fool out of myself.
  • I didn't want to embarrass my current employer who had just recently employed me.
  • I didn't want to miss my chance of working for this disgusting man's advertising agency. (Oh, what a fool I was!)
  • I didn't want to be labeled as a trouble maker in the industry.
  • I really thought speaking up would end my career.
  • I was embarrassed.
  • I felt disgusting.
  • I felt powerless. 

What I would've done different if it had happened to me today:

  • I would've told him right away that I felt uncomfortable. 
  • I would've spoken to my employer about the situation. 

Conclusion

Feeling uncomfortable is enough reason to speak up. I repeat: Feeling uncomfortable is enough reason to speak up. FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE IS ENOUGH REASON TO SPEAK UP.

None of the excuses I had for not speaking up would've been valid if we didn't live in a patriarchal society. A society that blames the victim and not the predator. The truth is: I felt uncomfortable, powerless and thought my career would be over if I called out this man for his inappropriate behavior.

That is enough to make us question how we are raising our children. It's 2017 and a woman is still being blamed for their rape and sexual assaults, for the plain reason of being too pretty to go out alone at night, for dressing however the fuck she wants, for wearing makeup and for being herself.

Finally, I really wanted to write what I would've done as a kid or teenager if any of the situations I lived through would've been worse. But I felt clueless. Who would I spoke out to? Who would believe me? Would I be blamed? And my heart breaks, because I know how many of you have gone through the worst case scenario. So please, speak your truth. You will be saving future generations from shame and suffering. 

#MeToo, 

María Elena Rodríguez

 

 

How to Handle Anxiety at Work

wellness, Real Talk, PopularMaría Elena RodríguezComment
how to handle anxiety at work


After the success of Dr. Cristina Rosario PhD's first interview about anxiety, we decided to write a part 2 of that post. This time more focused on anxiety in the work place.

With that said, if you wish to know more about what is anxiety and all its components, go read that blog post first, here. Now that you know the basics but you are looking for ways to ease your anxiety and panic attacks at work, here are some tips and tricks: 

What are the signs to identify an anxiety or stress problem at work?

There are many anxiety signs and they could vary from person to person. Even though many people reflect physical symptoms and dysfunctional thoughts, it is understood that work anxiety could be reflected in an indirect form. If you are in a work environment where you are being observed and evaluated, your anxiety could be hidden. The need to suppress this physical response opens the door to an internal and biological anxious response. For example. you could experience stomach aches, asthma, dermatitis, psoriasis, muscular pain and even changes in your blood pressure. 

Other signs of work anxiety are lack of concentration and motivation, frequent visits to the bathroom and or kitchen, talking too much with co-workers, isolation, avoidance and the increase or decrease in appetite. It usually comes with a combination of negative, dysfunctional, self-doubt, catastrophic and insecure thoughts in addition to physiological responses such as reflux, stomach aches, spasms, hair loss, nail biting and tics. 

What should you do if you a feel panic attack at work? 

You should take these four steps:

1. Ask yourself if your life is in danger. It doesn't matter where you are, you should always ask this question, since it will help you identify if the response you're experimenting is adaptive or pathological. If your response is affirmative, your symptoms are tools for survival. If your response is negative, your response was pathological, which means it was linked to mental health. 

2. Ask yourself what is causing this response. The answer will be your mind and you should remind yourself that if you have the power to activate this response, you have the power to stop it. This has so much value because it helps you have an active role towards finding a solution to manage your anxiety rather than being submissive or play victim. 

3. Breath in a controlled and profound flow, inhaling and exhaling slowly through your nose. Your breathing will pause your anxious response, sending a signal to your brain that you are in control and are able to control your body if you set your mind to it, so you can proceed to the fourth and last step. 

4. Identify the irrational thoughts that responded in a panic attack. Thoughts like "I am a disaster, I will not make it, they called my attention again, nobody understands me, I can't handle my supervisor, he doesn't think I'm competent, etc.". Once you identify these, you can proceed to ask yourself (1) What happened in my environment that ended in these thoughts? and (2) how could I argue with these response so it stops happening? 

panic attack treatment

What would you recommend someone who just entered the workplace and is learning the hard truths about people and life? 

Life is about getting ahead. Sometimes going upstairs, sometimes skipping holes, running as fast as you can and sometimes simply maintaining a firm and constant pace. Each developing stage represents a challenge and a lesson. The transition from teenager to adult is so complicated because it suggests a change in responsibilities, expectations, lifestyle, decision making, independence and autonomy. I think that the right strategy should be to assume an active role where you see conflicts as situations to fix instead of catastrophic events. 

Once you finish school is your time to grow experience wise. You should give yourself space to learn so you can understand processes and functions. Every situation and person is not an obstacle, they are an experience that will provide you a lesson. For example, a difficult boss will teach you to control impulses, organize your thoughts and express them with an assertive tone of voice.

Eventually you will learn to separate work and life, stand up for yourself and most importantly, your value. If you are not valued in your work environment, that is not the place for you. 

There is still a taboo towards anxiety problems at work. Do you recommend we tell our supervisors about our mental health issues? 

I have been in my private practice for around 5 years now and I have never written an absence notification for a patient. Sadly, mental health in Puerto Rico isn't something that is talked about and if we do, it is seen in an ignorant way. 

I believe that mental health should be perceived in the same way as physical health. Both should be attended promptly if we want to enjoy a favorable and healthy quality of life. One nurtures from the other one, nevertheless, mental health is tainted with discrimination and a misconception about it being a sought out disease. 

So my answer is yes, you should inform your superiors about your mental health issues, in order to stop the stigma and discrimination and show people that even though we may need some help with mental health, we may still be functional, capable and responsible human beings. You may also gain access to reasonable accommodation that could favor you and the company you work for. 

Nevertheless, you should disclose this information with your supervisor and/ or human resources manager, not your office friend. The notification should be made confidentially and should never justify inappropriate behaviors. It should only alert management about your condition and let them know you are seeking help. 

Should the Human Resources Department be aware of our anxiety problems? 

I believe they should, since this department is an employee's tool to guard their rights and confidentiality. Even though this is not my expertise, I know that there are laws that protect the employee when it comes to treatment, like for example the "Employee Help" or PAE program, which provides mental health services to employees without an additional cost. 

If your condition is not stable and you are experiencing evident dysfunction in your job, the responsible thing from Human Resources would be to retire you from the work environment and offer a space without penalty where you can receive the required treatment level. 

How should we manage stress or anxiety when the main trigger is a co-worker?

You should always manage triggers by confronting them. If you avoid them, it could give phobias and fears a green light. 

Once you identify a person as a trigger, the next step is to explore and evaluate the emotions that this person causes, and not just good or bad. It is highly probable that this person turns on previous negative associations, specially, personal insecurities or traumatic experiences. 

The moment you understand the emotion and thoughts behind the triggering, we can reflect if the situation is real or if you are perceiving something personal or direct to what it really is. You need to force a critical and operational thought. Once you have self reflected and organized the data, you should use assertive communication and appropriate channels to express yourself. Language plays a very important role here! 

1. Point out to what makes you feel uncomfortable

2. Acknowledge the emotions associated with the event

3. Try to empathize with the other person

4. Establish possible consequences to their actions

5. Generate possible alternatives towards an effective solution to the situation

6. Listen

7. Negotiate

8. Act

9. Reach new agreements

Given that this situation is contextualized within a work scenario, it is important to emphasize the importance of the "appropriate channels". It is important for this type of conversation and confrontation to take place within a professional setting, such as in the human resources office, in the conference behind closed doors, in the presence of another supervisor. Never in front of other employees, during lunch or in a social activity.

One of the biggest professional challenges is managing a person or team for the first time. How can we effectively supervise someone with anxiety symptoms? 

First, you must maintain a professional attitude and recognize that your role is to educate, supervise and ensure quality of work. Communication must be assertive and firm, it should be clear what the expectation is and what the process or action plan is to execute it.

A receptive and emphatic space should be offered, where the person feels comfortable expressing her/himself. It is recommended that the supervisor meets with the person on a regular basis. Open-ended questions should be asked, where the other party is encouraged to think and justify their thoughts; suggestions are validated with theories and/ or facts.

Many times people become anxious at work as they have multiple tasks simultaneously. The role of supervising someone anxious is to operationally define the problem, the expectation, and help the person learn to set priorities, structure and work plan. Another role should be to be able to identify the strength and areas to improve the anxious person, exposing and challenging her/him to her/his development. You should always try to get the person exposed to the situation, versus avoiding it. However, you can be emphatic and lead the person to a gradual exposure, where you initially serve as a model.

What is the best way to manage the fear of public speaking, speaking up in meetings and even interactions with peers? 

When it comes to public speaking:

1. Master the subject. 
2. Recognize yourself as the expert on the subject. 
3. Feeling confident that you are going to talk about what you know. 
4. Practice before giving the presentation, first individually recording with the cell phone or the camera of the laptop. Then make the presentation in front of a colleague or friend. This allows you to evaluate your posture, your tone of voice, your projection and the time it takes you to do it.
5. Visualize yourself making the presentation in a successful and positive way. Make positive self affirmations such as "I will be perfect, I will be able, I am good"
6. Be sure that the questions are answered or the material is understood.
7. Have a bottle of water or some candy.
8. Control the environment.
9. Arrive on time and leave everything ready at least 30 minutes before. 
10. Make a check list of the materials (that the computer loads, battery, projector, pen drive materials, etc.).
11. Make deep and slow or better known breaths like diaphragm and muscle relaxations prior to the beginning of the presentation.
12. Smile, if you are wrong, stop, breathe deeply, drink water, and take up the subject.

When it comes to meetings:

Remember that the unknown gives us the anxious response. Therefore, a useful tool for combating anxiety in a meeting may be to ask fpr the agenda to the supervisor or manager on the issues to be discussed. Knowing if there is any dress code or what is expected of me during that meeting will help ease anxiety.

A lot of people under perform at work due to personal issues. What advice will you give someone who is going through this?

Seek for help and educate yourself about mental health services. Mental health is not synonymous with hospitals of psychiatry or pills, it's the opposite. Once you recognize that something is causing you discomfort, seek to solve it through dialogue, the expression of emotions and changes in behavior. Understand that mental health, should be something preventive, something beneficial and not something stigmatizing. Accept that learning comes from experience and that mistakes are opportunities. Understand that success comes from being able to solve what you have to face, to learn to attend to priorities, to have the ability to adapt to different scenarios and situations, to learn to successfully manage emotions and thoughts, to see the positives of closing circles, to understand that they have multiple roles in the same life and that sometimes the most healthy and wise thing to do is to ask for help.

How can we cope with loved ones who just don't get mental health? 

We should identify the situation ourselves and look for help in order to restore organization. Once you believe and empower yourself among your resources, then you can educate and defend mental health as an issue. We should promote mental health as a preventive, important and central aspect of our well being for optimum functions. 

WHAT TO DO DURING A MENTAL HEALTH EMERGENCY:

Call 911 and visit your nearest hospital. It can be a regular hospital since the person will eventually be transported to a psychiatric hospital. 

We should NEVER assume that the person is being manipulative and we certainly must never assume that the "suicide is trending" as I read in a comment related to 13 Reasons Why. 

Here are some health care providers (in Puerto Rico) to consider if you're having sucide thoughts or in case of an emergency: 

  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline – National Network (TALK): 1-800-273-8255

  • Centro de Control de Envenenamiento (Poison Help): 1-800-222-1222

  • Administración de Salud Mental y Contra la Adicción (ASSMCA), Línea de Emergencia Primera Ayuda Social (PAS): (787) 763-7575/ Toll Free Number: 1-(800)-981-0023

Adults:

  • Hopital San Juan Capestrano

    • (787) 760-0222 (exts. 7162, 7163, 7196 y 7197)

    • fax (787) 760-6875 y 760-2944

    • Toll free number: 1-(888)-967-4357

  • Hospital Panamericano en Cidra

    • (787) 739-5555 - (fax) 739-5544

    • Toll free number: 1-(800)-981-1218

  • Hospital Pavia

    • 787-641-2323

  • Hospital Ramon Fernandez Marina

    • 787-766-4646

Partial Adults:

  • Hopital San Juan Capestrano Bayamón / Condado

  • Hospital Panamericano en Cidra

  • Inspira Auxilio Mutuo / Hato Rey / Caguas / Bayamón

  • APS Healthcare Inc, Caguas y Carolina

Minors:

  • Hopital San Juan Capestrano

    • 787-625-2900

  • Unidad Psiquiatrica Adolescentes -- Instalaciones del Hospital Universitario Ramón Ruiz Arnau(Hospital Regional de Bayamón)

    • 787-786-7373, 787-786-3620

  • Hospital San Jorge

    • 787-727-1088

    • 787-752-4453

Partial Minors:

  • Hopital San Juan Capestrano

    • 787-708-6324

  • Hospital San Jorge

    • 787-727-1088

    • 787-752-4453

dra. cristina rosario

If you would like to see Dr. Cristina Rosario, PhD (Clinical Psychologist) you can contact her for appointments here: 787-505-6938

Wish List | Mid Century Modern Home Decor

Decor, PopularMaría Elena RodríguezComment

If you follow me through social media you've maybe noticed that I've been kind of MIA these days. I have a slight tendency to shut down when I'm making big life decisions and right now my life has been quite hectic. I'm starting my masters degree in journalism in a week and have been house hunting with my fiancé for like a month now. So since this will be both him's and I's first homes, we've been researching and buying all the basics, like cutlery, bedding, pots and pans, etc. Basically everything that would be found on a wedding registry, since we've decided to postpone our wedding and once we have a registry it will be for a badass honeymoon, not pots and pans! Can you judge us? #Adulting 

With this big decision of finally living in our own place has come a lot of interesting and not so fun situations. I thought I would have the house all to myself and decorate it like my own little sanctuary, but oh boy how was I wrong! I totally forgot the fact that I have to decorate according to two tastes: My boyfriend and I’s. And let’s just say he’s not too fond of the whole mid century modern style... 

So since I’ve obviously been Pinning like crazy these days, I thought I would share with you guys my current home decor wish list. I also included some Ikea hacks I'm dying to try out. Hope you enjoy it!

1. West Elm's Acrylic Framework Chandelier

While we still haven't decided on the perfect dining table, I've already convinced my boyfriend this is the perfect statement lighting we need for our future dining area. I find that it is just the perfect amount of casual chic. Fancy, but not too much. You follow me? 

Photo Cred: Home Polish

2. Eames Plastic Chairs

Still trying to convince my fiancé that this is not a college dorm room chair. Any advice on how to explain to him that any 2016 home needs this mid-century modern chair?  #Obsessed 

Photo Credits: carriebradshawlied.com 

3. The perfect Bar Cart

This is totally Kathleen's from Carrie Bradshaw Lied fault. Even though I'm a firm believer in that a drink a day keeps the doctor (psychiatrist) away, I've never thought about owning a bar cart. But after seeing all the possibilities all over Pinterest and her blog, I can now say I have #BarCartGoals. Luckily, Pinterest is full with Bar Cart Ikea hacks

4. Palm Leaves Pillows

Because, duh! This goes perfectly with my Scandinavian meets tropical chic decor style. In other words, this would go perfectly with all the little house plants I will have all over the place. 

5. Ikea PS Gullholmen

Ever since I first saw this rocking chair I knew I would have it in my home one day. I love how rustic and modern it looks at the same time. But honestly, I've never sat on it and it doesn't look that promising in the comfort department... Sometimes you have to sacrifice some things for the sake of style. Amirite? 

6.  Emma Tripod Floor Lamp

Wouldn't this go perfectly with my Eames chairs? Yes it would. I'm a sucker for lightning and I find this would give the perfect soft reading light for the living room. 

Photo Cred: westelm.com

7. West Elm's Marble Oval Coffee Table

This is the queen obsession of all my home decor dreams, but sadly is sold out almost everywhere and if you're lucky enough to find one, it costs more than $500. For a coffee table. 

So this is when I found the wonderful world of Ikea's VITTSJO tables. These can be transform into super expensive looking furniture with just a couple of spray paint bottles and marble contact paper. An Ikea hack that costs less than $100! 

 

Photo Cred: SheerLuxe

Photo Cred: Ambience of Eden

As always, I will keep you guys updated on my decorating journey, and of course, once I have a home! But now I want to know, what's in your decor wish list?!

Until next time!

María Elena

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15 Things I Learned Practicing the KonMari Method

Lifestyle, Books, PopularMaría ElenaComment

"Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something." - Marie Kondo

As you may have noticed by now, I love putting overly hyped products to the test. So this time I decided to give it a little twist and put a book that has been flooding my Instagram and Bloglovin feeds for a while: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

The entire book focuses on the KonMari Method (KonMari = a mix of the author's name), which is a basically a technique on how to keep your personal space in order for good by having less stuff and surrounding yourself only by the things that spark joy to your life. Beautiful, isn't it?

Until now I was what Marie describes as a "rebound" organizer. I would tidy my things up in my bedroom and two weeks later, it was all the way it was before: A huge pile of clothes, bags and shoes. So reading this book was the best way for me to actually realize what was wrong with my organizing methods and I invested a whole weekend in the biggest bedroom purge I have ever done in my life that resulted in a very happy donation store. This is why I decided I wanted to write down 15 things I learned from this book  and maybe several reasons to go ahead and try the KonMari Method: 

1. There is a sequence to tidying your home the best way possible

Clothes, Books, Papers, Miscellaneous and lastly, Mementos. You're welcome, I saved you the Google search. 

2. Tidying my space is much more spiritual than I ever thought.

I feel like I created my own little sanctuary where I can feel as relaxed as possible after a long hard day of work. 

3. When your room is free from clutter you have no other choice than to confront your feelings. 

4. Before you start storing stuff, you need to decide what you want to keep and what to discard.

Otherwise, it will destroy the KonMari Method. Discard everything you don't want all at once and then, just then, you can start organizing all the things that spark joy in your life.

5. The best way to not rebound = Tidy by category, not by place.

6. Tidying is a way of showing gratitude, so think about things as people

Yes, you read that right. Even though not everyone we meet is meant to stay in our lives, they did have a purpose to be in it. With things, it's basically the same, which is why we need to show our appreciation for everything we are discarding.

7. Don't keep old clothes as your official Netflix & Chill clothes.

Your "me time" should be your time to appreciate yourself, so show a little respect and put on some fancy clothes ok? Throw away ALL the clothes that don't spark joy. 

8. Folding clothes can actually be fun and kind of therapeutical

Just try folding everything into a rectangle, then into thirds and then trying to stand them up. It's fun!

9. There are more ways to organize your closet than just color coordinating your clothes

The KonMari method teaches that the best way to keep all the clothes that "Spark joy" in your life is to hang them rising to the right. Your eyes will be happier, try it. 

10. Keep only the books that make you happy when you see or touch them.

11. Letting go of mementos is the hardest part of the KonMari Method

I had about 5 boxes full of memories since high school, which I honestly didn't want to let go. I kept only the ones that made me smile and threw away the ones that didn't make me feel anything. Trust your intuition in this one. 

12. Storing systems are for hoarders

The only storage solution you need is to find a spot for every single category of the things you own. Your storage should always let you know how much you have of something by just a glance.

13. Clutter is the cause of laziness

Well, duh! But seriously though, this method will teach you how to make the only storage you have as effortless as possible. 

14. Empty your handbag every day

You have no idea of how skeptical I was about this. But after a week practicing this method, I can honestly say it doesn't bother me. I have a designated place for all the things that go inside my bag so every night I can put my things away and every morning I know exactly what needs to be taken for the day ahead. I'll let you know if it actually keeps working. 

15. We should treat all the material things that we use in our daily life with respectin order to get the best use out of it

Specially because these things spark joy in our lives. In Marie's own words: "Caring for your possessions is the best way to motivate them to support you, their owner". 


Please be aware that this is not a summary of the book. It is a review of all the lessons I learned while reading it and practicing the KonMari Method. I strongly encourage you to read it so you can discover what is the best way to un-clutter your life. I have a feeling you will like it just as much. :)

Let me know if you would like an update of my lifestyle after the method. 

Until next time,

María Elena

Career Profile | Patricia de la Torre, Former Editor-In-Chief of Caras Puerto Rico

Career, PopularMaría Elena1 Comment

Patricia de la Torre is the former Editor-In-Chief for Caras Puerto Rico, a magazine that closed its doors after 25 years full of great articles targeted to intelligent and curious women. But her high profile career never went to her head. "I am the person who in the middle of meetings stand ups and looks for coffee for the person I'm meeting with", she expressed with pride. It may be that one of her mentors was the graceful (no pun intended) Grace Mirabella... but we'll get into details about that soon.

Even though you can still tell Patricia misses Caras Magazine since it closed this past winter, she is finding inspiration in her new job at Puerto Rico's Bank of Economic Development, where she feels constantly inspired by upcoming entrepreneurs. "It's kind of weird because in my generation they taught us to think about who would we work for, rather what we were going to do. Since millennials are growing up in such hard times, you've developed business skills and see opportunities in places that maybe our generation doesn't see", she expressed. 

"This job has sparked an illusion in me to search for what I can do and has awaken an entrepreneurial spirit in me", expressed the also owner of Patsee, a handbag brand she hand-makes.  (You can order custom handbags by emailing her at delatorre.patricia@gmail.com)

Interviewing Patricia in the beautiful rooftop at Olive Boutique Hotel, has been one of the highlights of my career since she is not only recognized for her amazing career journey, but for being a strong feminist without losing her charming personality. When I told her about my little dream of being an intern for her during college but I never had the guts to tell her, she immediately started laughing and told me that I should've emailed her. Which made me regret being so shy. So college students, take notes! This is how you make it in the magazine publishing industry:

ME: You have a BA and Masters Degree in fashion?

PT: I did my undergrad in Fashion Merchandising from Marymount College and then I did a Masters Degree in Fashion Retailing at NYU.

ME: Did you always know you wanted to work in the Fashion Industry?

PT: Definitely! When I took off for college, studying fashion was not as popular as it is today. To tell you the truth, it was difficult to find schools with fashion majors. The cool thing about Marmount is that since it was a Liberal Arts School, I had the opportunity of graduating with a minor in Creative Writing.

Then, when I graduated with my bachelors degree I was like "do I really have to go and work now?! How terrible, this can't be happening!". So it was way easier to go ahead and study a Masters Degree instead of just accepting that I had to be an adult. So I enrolled in NYU, which was an spectacular experience... It was right in the city where I always wanted to be. But of course, my parents wouldn't let me go for undergrad... which I think was a good idea because I would've been a major disaster!

ME: Tell me about your internship experiences?

PT: Since during that time, pattern divisions were huge, I worked with Vogue Patterns for a semester in college, which was amazing... it was at Vogue's same building! It was super interesting because in Fashion Merchandising we had to work a lot with seams, pattern making, sizing and so much more. They trained us to be able to choose the best garments by turning clothes inside out in order to actually see what material they were using so you would be prepared to work as a buyer for a store someday. I even took chemistry classes while I did an exchange program in London School of Fashion! It was a required two semester course that taught me to be able to understand textiles.

After that I did an Internship at Mirabella Magazine, which was wonderful! The magazine was directed by Grace Mirabella, former Editor in Chief at Vogue, before Anna Wintour took charge. To this day I still remember how hands on and what a special woman she was. It was a really small staff and she was very involved with everything.

I worked in their closet as the assistant of the assistant of the assistant of the assistant and sometimes I had to wake up at 3am to get to photoshoot after looking for everything that was needed in the office and take it to the van, go to the location and pick up the editors and models. But I still had the opportunity of being with Grace during meetings, while being an intern! She even invited me to some of her events at her beautiful brownstone home in Manhattan with all of her staff. I remember one day I found myself at Grace Mirabella's house with all of these designers and I was like "Oh my God what am I doing here?!". The thing is, this fashion world is a little intense and complicated, and she was a great person.

ME: How did you get these amazing internships?

PT: I feel like these days, finding internships is so much more difficult. In those days it wasn't very common to study fashion, so that's why I think that there were more opportunities. I really don't remember exactly how it happened, but I do remember it was pretty easy. 

ME: Who did you most admire when you were growing up?

PT: My mom. I literally ended up studying fashion because of her... She sacrificed so many things so my sisters and I could have the best dresses and shoes, which I believe is to truly be admired. We were these little schmucks and she would take us to Oui Boutique and Nativa Boutique, because she loved spoiling us. She has impeccable taste and she has a lot of common sense, which are things that have really influenced my sisters and I. 

ME: You mentioned on an interview that you entered the magazine world by accident. Tell me a little bit more about this.

PT: It really was by accident. I studied Fashion Merchandising and Fashion Retailing so I was supposed to be a buyer for some store, but it never happened. But I've always loved writing.

When we were kids we used to visit my dad's family in Spain and he always made us write a paper about our experiences. But not only that! When we came back to Puerto Rico, he would make us write an essay about our trip. He even copied our essays and sent them to our professors and it was horrible! But that made us develop a writing discipline that helped us express our experiences in paper later on. 

That's how I started having an itch to start developing the art of writing and journalism. Then while I was doing my undergrad, I decided to minor in creative writing. And once I entered (the magazine world), I was hooked. 

ME: How was your experience at Imagen?

PT: When I came back to Puerto Rico, I started working as an Assistant Fashion Editor at Imagen, and when the Fashion Editor left, they gave me the position. It was a very interesting experience! I was there for four years and I remember that during that time we didn't use Photoshop. We did everything by hand. One of my mentors was the magazine's photographer at the time, Raul Torres, because he was an artist of airbrushing with just brushes, pencils, erasers and sprays. He did everything by hand! No Photoshop.

ME: You worked for a while at GFR Media's deModa. How was that experience?

When this project started, GFR Media called me to join their team. I started as the Fashion Editor and when the magazine started taking more form and direction, they gave me the opportunity to direct it. I had the experience of seeing how a publication went from a newspaper to a newsstand and this is how my job changed from doing only fashion, to actually creating a magazine from scratch. This was also my first experience directing a magazine, which entails so many other things. You have to be in charge of graphic design, photography, client relationships, editing and everything. Even developing a brand! I stayed there for 8 years. 

ME: How did you take the big leap to Caras?

PT: Marisol Malaret was the Editor in Chief of Caras for many, many years... and when a position opened I got it and stayed there for 13 years. The best thing about Caras was our staff. We had the best journalists, photographers and graphic designers. Everyone went to work with a good mood and giving it their all, because Televisa (the magazine's publishing house) gave us a lot of editorial opportunities. Caras had an international look and feel because it was made for educated women who traveled and wanted to know about everything, but it was still a local magazine. Interviews were local and fashion was local.

It was also very important for us to have a balance between articles of interest and social pages. We wanted to have a complete magazine so that any type of person could find something of interest.  If you wanted to know what was the hottest restaurant not only in Puerto Rico, but in New York or Paris, we had an article about it. If you wanted a travel article we also had it... if you wanted something about art and culture, we also had it. We even had a Hollywood correspondent! 

We had brainstorming meetings where everyone had to bring out a topic no matter if it was from their department or not. It was like gathering with friends... we all had different interests, expertises and points of view. That's how we payed such close attention to editorial content. 

If it's not relevant for readers, it's not relevant for advertisers. A magazine is a business and the only way to make money out of it, is by having a quality product. You can't sell your soul to the devil. The moment to turn your magazine into a commercial product, you're doomed. Your readers and advertisers will leave. In order to make your articles relevant, you need to not make your articles look like a non paid political advertisement. The moment you start selling editorials, you're dead.

ME: What was the hardest part of working for a lifestyle magazine during your 13 years in Caras?

PT: I believe that in general, the media still hasn't found the perfect way to adapt to all the changes happening with the Internet and social media. They are still finding the "perfect" formula of how to work the constant changes in media.

The most important thing to think about is to look at it as a brand. Not a magazine, not a blog, not a newspaper, not a radio program or tv program. For example, Caras Magazine was part of the Caras brand. So Caras was a social event, a trip, a clothing line. Everything has to integrate with the brand and the magazine has to be part of it. There has to be a bigger picture; you need to give the customer a 360 experience... An all inclusive: web, social, events, licenses, franchises. 

ME: I loved that Caras had professional profiles! You once said that "women love knowing about other women's stories" and I totally agree.

PT: Women still have a long way to go in equality when it comes to jobs. I love listening about women who are successful and specially when they form part of board of directors. Important decisions are still, in great majority, in hands of men. In Caras, we did a really great effort to find women who gave us a good story and trust me, there're a lot of them! 

I highly recommend the documentary Miss Representation, which is about women leaders and the importance media has in highlighting women as professionals and as cultural and political leaders. I even had my two boys watch it! 

ME: What is the best memory you have in the industry?

PT: Wow... There's a lot of them. But not too long ago, they called me to talk about fashion history in Puerto Rico for the local documentary film Anatomía de un Vestido and that felt really good! It is a very well made local film by Flora Pérez Garay.

ME: Who's the person you most enjoyed interviewing?

PT: Arnaldo Roche. Even though he's really reserved, he let me come inside his workshop. I felt like he was letting me inside his world, and once that happened, we have developed a really beautiful friendship. It felt like a privilege. 

ME: What advise would you give someone trying to enter the magazine world in 2015?

PT: Learn about everything... you need to know how to do everything. Read, read, read and learn new languages and history. Travel. Be curious, have initiative... All that knowledge you thought you were never going to need will become useful when it comes to have an open mind. Even to engage in conversations with whomever! You always need a good conversation piece.

Random facts about Patricia:

  • Favorite Scent: Musk oil by Kiehls
  • Favorite Music: 80's rock
  • Favorite Book: Everything written by David Sedaris. He's so funny!
  • Favorite way to unwind: With my family and boyfriend (actor Braulio Castillo who she describes as a blessing in her life)
  • Favorite Restaurant: My brother in law's restaurant Bricolage in Brooklyn New York. It's an amazing Vietnamese gastropub. 
  • Favorite Social Media Platform: Instagram
  • Favorite Coffee Shop: Café Cuatro Sombras
  • Favorite Drink: Johnny Walker on the rocks.
  • Most have Home decor piece: Pictures! Of everyone. A home without pictures is not a home.
  • Most have fashion accessories: A good pair of jeans. I can pay anything for a good pair.
  • Most proud of: My two sons.
  • Necessary luxury: A nice trip once a year.
  • What's on the top of your bucket list: A nice getaway! I am dying to visit Turkey.
  • Best place you ever visited: There are so many! But no matter where I am, if I am with my family, it's the best place ever.

As I said before, I feel really honored to have had the opportunity of sharing this interview with you. Patricia is someone that I've admired for so long for her career journey and grace. She never lets the industry get to her. I really wish you find the same lesson I got from this interview: Follow your dreams and surround yourself with loving and talented people. Somehow, the world will conspire in your favor.

Thank you so much to Olive Boutique Hotel in San Juan for giving me the opportunity of interviewing Patricia at their amazing rooftop. Did you know The Real Housewives of Atlanta stayed here during their visit to Puerto Rico?! For more information about bookings visit www.oliveboutiquehotel.com or call 787.705.9994. You won't regret it!

11 Ways to Buy High End Beauty Products on a Budget

Beauty, Money, PopularMaría Elena5 Comments
high end makeup on a budget

Us VIB girls, understand that the struggle is real when it comes to Sephora and its point system. We tend to become obsessed with getting beautifully packed high end makeup, as many points as we can just for its "perks" and in some cases, try convincing ourselves that these skin care products are an investment that will pay off when we are older (or is it just me?!). Which is not completely BS, but the fact is that spending money on high end beauty products, destroys our good spending habits. So here are my top 10 tips on how to save money without sacrificing half of your salary:

1. Buy Online As Much As Possible

This is my #1 tip because almost all websites, at least from Puerto Rico, won't charge you state taxes. Plus, they will probably grant you free shipping if you spend $40-50 or more. This is sadly not the case for Sephora and Ulta. ☹️

2. Subscribe To Your Favorite Brand's Websites

Brands like Tarte, have the BEST sales every once in a while. I've received email coupon codes from 15% to even a 30%. Plus, they always give you the chance of adding some free samples to your purchase. 

3. Treat Yourself! (On Your Birthday)

Most beauty product websites have coupon codes for your birthday. Again, make sure you subscribe to them so you don't miss one. 

4. Try As Many Samples As You Can

Go ahead and try some samples with your 100 points perks, or better yet, get some free ones from your online purchases. This is the perfect way to finding out if you actually like a product without spending your cash on the whole thing. 

5. Start With Travel Size

If you can't find samples and you've been meaning to try that new BB Cream or Face Mask, find out if they have a travel size. That way you will spend about half the price and if you don't like it, you won't feel as guilty. 

6. Sign Up for a Beauty Box Subscription!

If you are a true beauty addict trying to save some cash, a monthly beauty box is your answer. You can sign up for Birchbox or Ipsy and you will receive a cute box of travel size products for just $10 a month. I actually have a 50% discount code for you if you use this link. 😊

7. Wait For Special Occasions and End Of Seasons 

Apart from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most brands have sales on holidays like Labor Day, Valentine's Day, etc. Make sure you're subscribed to your favorite brands' websites and check your email around these days for some awesome discounts.

8. If You LOVE It, Buy It Jumbo Size

The case on my much loved Tarte Maracuja Oil and Ole Henriksen Truth Serum. If you have the money, go ahead and buy the jumbo version of your favorite products. Sometimes you could save as much as 50% on your product, without discounts. 

9. Spend your 500-1,000 Sephora Points wisely

Try to look at this as an investment. If you are going to spend that much money to enjoy your perks, you better make it good. Don't just get whatever is featured, wait for something you ABSOLUTELY were dying to try or love. 

10. Don't Buy Drugstore Makeup Just Because It's On Sale

Repeat with me: Do I really need another lipstick? If you're trying to save money, those little runs to Walgreens or CVS to "just buy tooth paste" do add up. And don't get me wrong! Drugstores have a great variety of awesome beauty products, but if you're on a budget, I would definitely recommend saving your money for one high quality lipstick in an awesome shade that suits you perfectly, rather than 10 that will probably be dancing in your purse or junk drawer for months... or years (trust me). 

11. Use Up All Your Products Before Buying New Ones

This is a tough one for all of you hoarders out there. And I mean, don't buy another face powder if you still haven't finished the one you are currently using. That way your products won't go bad and you get full value for your money. Easy math huh? 

Learnings

  1. Buy online as much as possible

  2. Wait for sales

  3. Try samples
  4. Don't be a hoarder
  5. Say no to shopahollism! (Yes, I just invented a term!)

How do you save money on beauty products. If you find this helpful, please share it with your friends!

Until next time, 

María Elena 

BONUS! I have a new section in my blog where you can find all the discounts that I can provide you with. I will make a small commision out of it or receive the same discount you will be receiving. In other words, you will be supporting this blog or giving me awesome discounts! So thank you in advance. 💛