un aguacate a la vez

Real Talk

PAUSA

Real TalkMaría Elena RodríguezComment
pausa ambitnity

Llevo meses con un apretón en el pecho que no me permite publicar más posts en ambinity, el lugar que una vez llamé "mi santuario" y "mi bebé". Me he preguntado tantas veces por qué se me está haciendo tan difícil publicar algún escrito que tanto antes me disfrutaba, o publicar algo en las redes sociales que les dejara saber que estaba viva. A parte de muchos cambios que ocurren en mi vida, sentía que había algo que ya no encajaba. 

Mi intención con este escrito no es quejarme, ni hacer un “rant” (aunque los que me conocen saben que me encantan), pero entiendo que ya es hora de volver a hablar desde el corazón.

Mi vida ha cambiado mucho en el último año. No es un secreto que el Huracán María me cambió y los que escuchan el podcast Un aguacate a la vez lo saben mejor que nadie.

Ambinity comenzó como un lugar para escribir sobre lo que creía en mi vida: Todos podemos ser ambiciosos mientras somos vanidosos. Y no me tomen a mal, aún lo creo. Creo fielmente que si no le haces daño a nadie, cada cual debe ser feliz a su manera.

Pero poco a poco he visto cómo la ambición y la vanidad han llegado a un segundo plano en vida, porque mis nuevas prioridades son mi sanidad física, mental y espiritual. Quizás ya veían esto venir con mi decisión de usar solo maquillajes cruelty-free y escribir sobre temas más orientados al bienestar. 

Claramente la comunidad de influencers globalmente ha cambiado mucho. Me dedico a la publicidad digital y una de las razones por las que decidí irme por esta rama era precisamente porque estaba fascinada con el mundo cibernético y la capacidad que tenían los bloggers de influenciar la decisión de potenciales compradores sobre una marca. Quería ser parte de esta comunidad porque además de que me encanta el punto de vista de mercadear un producto en las redes sociales y la creación de websites, disfrutaba todo lo que tenía que ver con belleza, decoración y estilos de vida y ya de por sí muchas personas se acercaban para preguntarme sus opiniones sobre estos temas. 

Así comencé publicando cada vez que tenía el tiempo y la isnpiración, a pesar de que solo tenía alrededor de 3 lectores, contando a mi mamá. Pero con el tiempo y con la saturación gradual que hubo del mundo de bloggers e influencers de estilos de vida, me vi alejándome del sentimiento de empoderamiento que me daba publicar cada post a sentirme insegura porque no estaba creciendo al nivel que quizás otras personas que empezaron después de mi estaban creciendo. Gracias a mi naturaleza terca, siempre me mantuve firme en que quería ser lo más genuina posible, no importa qué marcas quisieran trabajar conmigo. Sin embargo, sentía que para publicar del corazón tenía que pagar el precio de acoplarme al algoritmo de las redes sociales y las tendencias que el resto de la competencia estaba siguendo para recibir los likes y los clicks que me llevarían a que me leyeran para poder continuar haciendo lo que amaba. 

Incluso, mis inseguridades llegaron a tal punto, que sentí que tenía que comenzar a hacer más contenido de video como stories y Youtube para crecer. No estoy diciendo que no me disfruté esta etapa, al contrario, fue una etapa hermosa donde crecí muchísimo personalmente y perdí muchos miedos. Pero a pesar de esto, siempre supe que no era yo, que estaba dando tanto de mi para hablar de productos o de cosas tan sencillas como prepararme el desayuno, que terminaba drenada y vacía el resto del día. Sentía que me perdía en las apariencias y en el qué dirán, por lo tanto estaba perdiendo lo que más amo y la razón por la que comencé ambinity: escribir por amor al arte. La razón por la que me tatué un bolígrafo con puntos de suspención en el brazo dominante. Porque nunca quiero olvidar que lo que me cura es escribir del corazón, no por complacer a más nadie que no sea a mi misma. 

PEN TATTOO

Luego de mucho reflexionar entendí lo que una vez fue una comunidad genuina de personas compartiendo sus opiniones, se convirtió (para algunos) en un lugar para promover su agenda personal, obtener cosas gratis y alardear de sus vidas, como si la vida fuera solo un juego de cuántas cosas puedes tener y pretender que eres feliz sin perder la cabeza.

Así que decidí que no sería parte de eso. 

Mi intención es vivir mi vida sin filtro y demostrar que no todo se trata de lucir lo que somos por fuera, sino de vivir una vida plena donde cada acción debe llevar a mejorar la del prójimo de una manera u otra. Esto tanto a nivel personal como social. No todos somos una fábrica de likes. Somos responsables por lo que le damos al mundo y eso no lo podemos perder de perspectiva.

AL RESTO DE LA COMUNIDAD DE INFLUENCERS Y CREADORES DE CONTENIDO:

Creen contenido que les apasione y trabajen con marcas que no tan solo les gusten, si no que apoyen sus valores. No tengan miedo en decir cuando algo no les gusta, déjenlo claro. Recuerden que esto no es una competencia, las redes sociales son una excelente herramienta para conectar y recibir feedback genuino de otras personas. El tener muchos seguidores o fama no debe afectar tu integridad nunca. 

Por último, no entren a esto por dinero porque se notará. Siempre recuerden que lo que compartan afectará a la persona que lo recibe de una manera u otra. Evalua tu post tantas veces quieras y solo haz clic en ese “publish” cuando entiendas que vas a mejorar la calidad de vida de los demás. 

¿ENTONCES QUÉ VA A PASAR CON AMBINITY? 

Una de las cosas que me ha enseñado la práctica de yoga y que me ha cambiado la vida de una manera sumamente positivia es a vivir el presente. Hoy me siento cómoda trabajando con el podcast y desarrollándome profesionalmente en una nueva faceta. 

Pero de algo estoy segura: Volveré a escribir, pero será de una manera mucho más orgánica y siempre, se los prometo del corazón. 

Con amor y respeto, 

María Elena Rodríguez

PD: No estoy publicando mucho en mi cuenta personal, pero me pueden conseguir ahí en @elenarodrz o escucharme en @aguacatepodcast

 

 

 

 

GUEST POST | I Completed a Master's Degree in Barcelona with Zero Debt. Here's How I Did It!

Real Talk, Travel, CareerKrystel SierraComment

People often speak about the midlife crisis, but little is told about the mid-20’s struggle. I was experiencing it at 25, when life isn’t how you thought it would be and childhood expectations vanish in front of you.

I had finished my bachelor’s degree at 20 and had a stable 8-to-5 job. I had been saving money to do a master’s degree someday. Nonetheless, something was missing. I was not happy. I felt stuck, with little to no growth opportunities and a routine that was killing me.

I had searched for jobs in and out of Puerto Rico, and when I got called and interviewed for a worldwide Public Relations agency in Miami, I was super excited. The interview went well but then I was told that the only thing I was lacking was “agency experience”. But how could I get it if no one was willing to give me the opportunity to “train” me? I had decided that if I didn’t get that job, I would do a master’s degree that allowed me to do an internship. After getting rejected, that would be it.

At first I had considered a university in the United States but discarded the idea. I was not willing to take a loan worth a house to pay for a degree. That was when I began considering Europe, where education  is more affordable. Also, I had fallen in love with the continent and its lifestyle since my first vacations. There I felt home, I fitted in. I had spent my whole life putting everyone before me and it had taken a toll on my emotional health. I needed to get away in order to find myself, grow and be happy.

I needed to get away in order to find myself, grow and be happy.
— Krystel Sierra

After a lot of research, I found a great program from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. It was what I wanted: in Public Relations, affordable, with internship opportunities, and abroad. I applied, was accepted and began all the paperwork. I never thought about it so much. If I did, I would eventually be overwhelmed with all that could go wrong. I was leaving everything I knew, a home, and a stable job to move to a city I had never been to, thousands of miles away. I told my plans to my parents, who didn’t hesitate a second in supporting me. I cried when I sent the first tuition payment  because I knew there was no turning back. That day, my life changed forever.

krystel sierra traveling

A lot of people wonder how I was able to pay for it. I come from a very humble family and I had to fully support myself. When you grow up struggling, you learn that money is no joke. Due to that, I was a compulsive saver. One of the things I am prouder of, is that I didn’t take a single loan. I worked hard since I was 17 and saved for as long as I remember. I was a very dedicated student and that paid off too. I had won a scholarship that I saved strictly for educational purposes. I would rather drive my very old car, bring lunch everyday to work, buy clothes one time a year, and go to the movies once every few months than spend a scholarship on material things. I had plenty of spreadsheets to calculate my monthly expenses in Barcelona. I knew how much money I needed, I had calculated the risks and it was now or never.

barcelona

A week before moving, I cried every night. I had the occasional second-guessing but a friend -whom I had previously encouraged to study abroad- told me, “you are scared now but once you land here, you will not know why you were so afraid.” And she was right. I packed two big suitcases, set up my blog Chase the Feeling where I would document my journey,  and moved to Barcelona. I lived in a shared room at the university. The first time I walked around the city, I knew I was where I meant to be.

Of course, despite the beauty of Barcelona, the first two weeks were incredibly hard. It was exhausting to figure out every bureaucratic paperwork that came with moving to a foreign country. So it was adjusting to share a room with a stranger, figuring out the transportation system, doing grocery shopping and learning how the ingredients were called there. It was hectic but it all fell into place. In October, I went to the program’s welcome meeting. We were divided into work groups that would last until the end of the master’s. It was the beginning of the most amazing year of my life.

krystel sierra

A month into it I had mastered the transportation system, the grocery shopping, adapted to the teaching style, and made a best friend whom I call now my sister.

My next goal was to land an internship. To my surprise, the university didn’t have placement, so it was basically like a job search. I applied and sent e-mails to plenty of local PR agencies every day. By the end of November, I had landed my internship. Now it was a matter of balancing an almost full-time job with classes, group meetings, presentations, and adulthood responsibilities. But there’s nothing in life that you can’t do if you work hard for it. My internship experience was enriching. I learned a bit of catalán, my coworkers were very supportive and I earned the “agency experience” I was looking for.

krystel sierra inglaterra

I wanted to travel too. Before leaving Puerto Rico, I had budgeted a trip to Munich to meet with my sister in January. Also, I had set myself a monthly allowance for traveling wherever I could afford. I eventually became an expert at budget travel and visited more countries than I thought I would. My first trip was to Iceland in December to see the Northern Lights -which I didn’t get to see- but I will forever dream of the Blue Lagoon and the country’s breathtaking nature. Then the Christmas break arrived. I spent my first holidays away from my family, but joined my friend and her relatives in northern Germany and later in Girona, Spain. In January, I was beyond happy with my sister in Munich, a city I fell in love with.

My next trips were highly spontaneous and based on opportunities that came along.  I ended up visiting Munich two times to attend football matches (THE dream), Italy, and England. Google Flights is a blessing with its calendar of ridiculously low fares. Traveling within Europe is very affordable. With what you spend on a weekend in Puerto Rico, you can visit three cities in Italy and cover ALL expenses. I would also go out every weekend to lose myself in the city I now call home. La meva Barcelona. I visited museums, landmarks, beaches, markets, and nearby cities like Sitges and Montserrat. But it was not all fun and games.

With 2017 kicking in, it was time for my next goal: to move from the university dorms to an apartment in Barcelona city. Looking for pisos in Barcelona is a nightmare. The demand is extremely high and so are the prices. I had to stay on budget so when I was about to give up, I found a great apartment shared with two people – a guy from Ecuador and a girl from Poland. They became my family and I will always cherish our time as housemates.

Motivated by my love for languages, I searched for opportunities to learn German. Gladly, I discovered a summer program at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. It was perfect and affordable and as my spending projections were accurate -plus I was earning a bit as an intern- I enrolled. After finishing my degree, I would move to Germany.   

krystel sierra
krystel sierra iceland

Back to college life, I will not say that everything was perfect. The teaching style is based a lot on you figuring things out on your own. It’s designed with a professional approach rather than academic. Also, the grading is subjective, rather than based on a mathematical sum of points. Naturally it was a challenge to create our final project: a Public Relations plan for one of the biggest toy makers in the world. However, with countless of hours of hard work, Whatsapp conversations and Sunday meetings, we did it.  We presented our plan to the client in June, had a graduation a few days later, and it was over.

graduation krystel sierra

I had proven to myself how strong I was. I cried, I laughed, I fell, and I got up. I thought that the most valuable thing that I would obtain was a master’s degree, but it wasn’t. My experiences as an immigrant, an international student, an intern, a solo traveler, and an adult away from home made me better, stronger, more tolerant, smarter, independent, more respectful, and optimistic. It helped me believe in myself more, be spontaneous and see the good in people. The people. It was those whom I met and the relationships I developed what I cherish the most. If there is a reason why I would do it all over again, it is so I would have them in my life.

krystel sierra friends
krystel sierra friends

In August I moved to Munich to learn German. It was an intensive three-week course. I took lessons every day, made new friends, experienced the city in the summer and, of course, attended a Bayern Munich football match. I even got my jersey signed by my favorite player. Life doesn’t get a lot better than that. I finished the course and did a 3-day trip to Poland, Czech Republic and Austria. Then I went back to Barcelona. After a year, it was time to get my bags and fly to Puerto Rico. I was devastated for what I was leaving behind, but hopeful for the future. Now I have a different mindset, friends in almost every continent and a clear goal in mind: to eventually relocate to Europe.

The biggest lessons I learned from this experience? The most important thing in life is happiness.

Experiences are better than possessions and material things. You can live with a lot less than you think. Meaningful relationships are what stay when all else vanishes. When you are determined and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. Set your goals, work on a plan but let life surprise you. And last but not least, when you follow your passions, you are on the right track.

If you have ever considered studying abroad, do it. I encourage anyone to take on the challenge of moving and immersing themselves in a completely different culture. You are not only growing academically or professionally, but also as a person. And at the end of the day, that is the experience you will treasure the most.

Screen Shot 2018-04-02 at 4.33.25 PM.png

   Meet our Guest Blogger

Hello there, I’m Krystel and I'm the blogger behind Chase the Feeling and the creator of the Chase the Feeling Travel Planners. Born in the 90’s, I love music, football ⚽, and The Office. Cat person, old soul, and languages enthusiast -I’m bilingual (English and Spanish), currently learning German. I've also studied Italian and French but I want to improve a lot more. I enjoy writing and learning about different topics. I will always google anything I don’t know and open too many tabs at once. 

 

 

Want to stay in touch? Follow me on Instagram or Twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shop my Travel Planners here

Favorites and Fails | February 2018

Beauty, Podcast, wellness, Shopping, Real Talk, LifestyleMaría Elena RodríguezComment
february beauty favorites and fails

Favorites

We launched a Podcast!

Yes, you read that right. My friend from college, Silvia Vallejo and I decided that it was time to put our conversations to good use. O sea, to publish them. The Podcast is called Un aguacate a la vez and we will talk about everything wellness related: from supplements to all the woo woo astrological-mystic stuff! 

You can listen to it today and subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud! 

Aaron Stewart Home - Love PR

After months of not knowing anything about Fernando Rodríguez from Aaron Stewart Home, I was pleasantly surprised to know how much they've grown and specially battled obstacles since Hurricane María hit them. They took all the devastating energy from the hardest months of modern day Puerto Rico and announced the launch of their new line: LOVE PR. This affordable new line is a capsule collection that will assist victims of Hurricane Maria across the island of Puerto Rico by going directly to The Boys and Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico, The Sato Project, ConPRmetidos, and Instituto Psicopedagogico de Puerto Rico. 

I personally love the t-shirt for working out and their luggage tags

Purina

Purina invited me to a doggie brunch with Fiona and I couldn't be happier!!! They gave us some samples of their new small breed line Purina Bella and Fiona has been loving it!

Quay Australia Black on Black Aviators

I found this during my recent trip to New York this past fall and I haven't been able to put them down! I love how edgy and trendy they look, but most importantly, their price! 

Seeing some progress in Yoga

After doing yoga for almost 6 months now, I can finally see some progress, specially in my chaturangas and crow pose. 

Glossier You Perfume

This is a favorite ever since I got it. Smells spicy yet sweet, but not TOO sweet for the day time. Grab it here. 

Learning to cook vegan

I have been having a lot of fun learning to cook some vegan recipes and sharing them over on Instagram stories. Check out some awesome vegan books here:

Got accepted in the New York Marathon!!!

This girl is running 26.2 miles on November 4, 2018 and I can't even begin to process that. With that being said, expect a lot more posts about running, nutrition and wellness! I will definetely need them... 

Coconut People

Coconut People is a store in Old San Juan that carries a variety of cruelty free beauty products that I've been dying to try. They gave me some products by Mad Hippie that I will start trying now in March to see if it fixes my hormonal breakouts. Check out some of their products here:

Fails

february fails

Beats by Dr. Dre PowerBeats 2

Now that I got accepted to the New York Marathon I am exceptionally mad at this. This is my second pair of PowerBeats by Dr. Dre and they keep failing on me. The battery doesn't last for even 24 hours without use! Ugh, please send me your recommendations for wireless headphones... 

Breaking out!

On February I suffered from some really heavy hormonal breakouts, which is why I'm taking some extra care of my skin this March! 

Overdoing it with Yoga

Yoga was my favorite, but being able to see some progress means that I pushed myself to the limit some days. Yes, I ended up in the chyropractor after failing to do a complete wheel pose. Yikes! 


What were your favorites and fails this month?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Why You Should Stop Caring About What Other People Think

Lifestyle, Real Talk, wellnessMaría Elena RodríguezComment
ambinity girlboss puerto rico

We've all been there. Whether it's from someone who doesn't get us, someone who underestimates us or just someone who diminishes our accomplishments. Caring about what other people think is annoying and it can take the best of us. I hate to say it, but I have been a victim of this my whole life. I especially get triggered when someone doesn't get a glimpse of all the love and hard work I put into everything that I do.

Admit it, we are always judging people. We judge people's past, life decisions and wardrobe choices. It's wrong, we know if, but we still do it. But once you get clear on your life path, you start seeing the world in a totally different light and you stop judging people as much. You start to realize that accomplishing your goals is not easy and that it requires a lot of getting out of your comfort zone and doing things that are not in line with society's norm. I myself, have seen this first hand. I practically put 50% and sometimes 75% of my life out there for people to read, like and share. It's terrifying! 

But this is how I learned to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and ask myself: Why do we need to look for validation for others when we are living out life's true purpose? Here is what I've found:

  • Misery loves company! People who hate their lives usually look for ways to make your life look as miserable as theirs.

  • There's so much beauty behind being underestimated. Work in silence and let success be the noise.

Work in silence. Let success be the noise.

Work in silence. Let success be the noise.

  • Nobody has your life experiences or point of views. Why should you follow someone else's path? You know exactly how to make your situations work for you. If you don't, keep looking. There is no basic template for life.

  • You are the only one in charge of your life. If I paid attention to what other people think or say of me, I would probably be living a totally different life. A miserable life that is.

  • There's beauty in proving people wrong. Follow Bruno Mars' lead and sing "Don't believe me just watch!"

Don't believe me just watch!

Don't believe me just watch!

  • Caring about what other people think of you is a waste of energy. Just imagine using all the energy you have wasted caring about what other people thought into your own projects?!

  • You are not what other people think of you. You are what you think of yourself and you better believe you are a QUEEN!

  • Surround yourself with people who care and support your goals. This is the best way to silence the negative talk!

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. = Dita Von Teese

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. = Dita Von Teese

Now I want to know about you! How do you manage not caring about what other people think of you?

Until next time, 

María Elena

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 Make a Comeback

Career, Real TalkMaría Elena RodríguezComment
how to make a comeback

These days it feels like everybody is telling Puerto Rico to "not give up" and that this is the time to "reinvent yourself". And while I completely agree with both of these statements, no matter how sick we are of listening to them, I feel like most of us don't even know where to start. Let's face it, Hurricane María caught us off guard and we are still trying to pick ourselves back up and get shit done. 

And believe me, looking for hope when so many many people are losing their jobs and even closing down their businesses is tough. But this is our chance to look at this setback as the perfect white canvas to make this the life you want! So I put together ways you can actually make a comeback stronger than ever. Just remember, step by step, day by day! 

Cry all you want, then put your game face on!

And once you stop crying, please leave fear behind. This is not the moment to have second thoughts about that business or blog you were meaning to start. Either you make it or you don't. And if other people could, why wouldn't you?

Just make sure you are catering your business to Puerto Rico's current situation. This are not the times to make "business as usual". 

Find a comfortable space with WIFI

Mari Nieves from Pink Studios did a blog post on all the places you can find WIFI after Hurricane María. Pick the one that makes you feel comfortable and bring your laptop! And STAY AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA, unless is LinkedIn, of course. 

Even though I don't have the facts, I am pretty sure social media is the #1 procrastinator trigger among millennials. So please, once you find your perfect wifi spot, don't waste your time double tapping memes on Instagram! Use your time to update your resume, make a killer cover letter, apply to new jobs or finally finish that business plan. Focus!

Change your strategy

If things didn't work out for the best the first, second and third time, start thinking about changing your strategy. Maybe it's time to learn new skills (plenty of free courses online, btw!) or even time to move to another city and get a new and exciting job. Remember, you are the only one in charge of your future. Be strategic!

shake what your mama gave you

I talked about this in my last blog post, but I wouldn't be in such a "good place" mentally after Hurricane María if it weren't for the yoga and running habit I started developing a little over three months ago. I don't know if it has to do with the fact that these workouts keep my mind busy or it is just that I have finally found "my workout nirvana". All I know is that what I am doing, is making me feel great and most importantly, I am managing my anxiety like a champ, considering my past. 

So find ways to move that body, these days we need lots and LOTS of endorphins. 

Focus on being an example for others in similar positions

One of the most gratifying things you can do is give other people the tools to succeed. This is a great way to give back to your community.

If you can't find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, think of all the people who look up to you. Maybe it's your little sister, your intern or even your parents. Don't let them down! Remember, you are always an inspiration to someone and they need your strength.

Focus on the good

I know, this is cliché, but in my short life I have learned that an attitude of gratitude is the only way to make it through the hard seasons of life. There is ALWAYS a reason to be grateful. 

A great way to practice gratitude is by finding a workout you get so zoned out on, since using your body is a great way to be thankful for all its functioning capabilities. Another way is finding time to meditate and think about all the blessings in your life. I have specially loved doing this after yoga and I have even been incorporating some essential oils into my routine. #Divine

Surround yourself with positive people

This is an all around tip, but in hard situations this is specially important. Being surrounded by Debbie Downers is the worst, but imagine having one around when your life is crumbling down into pieces. Yuck! Find people who have the same drive as you towards success. And if you can't find one, there are plenty of books and blogs you can read of people who don't put excuses. 

Ask for LinkedIn Recommendations

This is specially good if you're planning on leaving your current city. This way potential employers have a better understanding of who you are and your interpersonal skills.

If you don't know where to start, just call someone who works or used to work with you and ask them for a LinkedIn Recommendation. If you left your job in good terms, this should not be a problem. Just make sure you give a recommendation back. 

Use your Intuition before you take risks

Repeat after me: My intuition is never wrong. 

Forget about people who tell you you can't make it, as long as you are not risking your life of course! These people are probably too scared to follow their own dreams, so they want people to live their same miserable lives. Once you start taking risks, life will take you places that will make you uncomfortable, but that's where you'll grow.

And happens if you fail, you ask? You will have a life lesson and a damn good story to tell. 

How are you coping with the crisis after María?

Until next time, 

María Elena

Hurricane María Lessons + How to Help Puerto Rico

Lifestyle, wellness, Real TalkMaría Elena RodríguezComment
hurricane maria puerto rico

To say this has been one of the most challenging days of modern day Puerto Rico is truly an understatement. Everything that we have been warned for years, has now exploded in our faces. From our weak infrastructure, electricity, flood zones and our dreaded territorial status. But before I get all fired up and political, I just want to be clear that I want to make this blog post as positive as possible, due the circumstances. Because we need it. People ARE dying in my Island because of the lack of food and no access to potable water, while that crazy dude in the White House tweets that FEMA can't be in Puerto Rico for much longer. 

Everyday feels like I'm about to break down, but I cope. I keep walking and trying to find collateral beauty. Because I am fortunate to have the basics: food, water and a roof over my head. Because if I don't go out with a positive mind and ready to do what needs to be done, I know I could go nuts. But for those who aren't as fortunate as you who is reading this post possibly from a functioning cellphone or me, stick through the end of this post for ways you can help Hurricane María's Relief in Puerto Rico. 

hurricane maria puerto rico

Hurricane María Lessons:

Natural disasters can happen any time and any place, so you should always be aware. There's no such thing as being too prepared. 

  1. Invest in hurricane proof windows and/or protect them before the hurricane hits.

  2. Always keep at least 3 months worth of food and water stored in your home - There is nothing scarier than knowing that you could be without food and water even for a day. Also, it is very humbling!

  3. Keep flashlights in hand.

  4. External battery packs for your phones are a must. Tip: Charge your laptops so you have an extra battery pack before the power goes out.

  5. Always keep an extra stack of cash safely stored in your home. - The lines for ATM in Puerto Rico have been crazy due to the collapse of credit card systems.

  6. Never go less than 1/4 of gas in your car tank. - Or better yet, use alternate ways of transportation like a bike or walk where you need to go. And if you don't need to go outside, stay and let the proper authorities take care of the disaster.

  7. Practice patience every day - That way, when shit hits the fan and people around are losing it, you will have the right tools to manage it. Practicing yoga has helped me a lot with this! (Here's the Yoga Series I've been following)

  8. The elderly need triple the care in case of emergency. Be prepared! - This was particular difficult for my family. My grandmother needs an oxygen tank delivered every other day. So since the delivery trucks where attending other emergencies, we ended up looking for ways to turn her electricity-charged oxygen machine by making 8 hour long gas lines in order to turn on the generator for her home. Every. Day. For a week.

  9. Emergency situations bring out the best and the worst in people.

  10. Mother Nature is alive and we should respect her by being kind. It's all about harmony; live and let live.

  11. I never knew how much I loved Puerto Rico until I saw it broken down into pieces. I took for granted the fact that I live in a paradise filled with beautiful nature.

  12. Robbers make a feast in national emergencies. - Be extra cautious of your belongings and specially the security of your home!

  13. Puerto Rico's political status is plain sad. - Let's leave it there.

  14. Actions speak louder than words. - Get your hands dirty or get out of the way!

  15. Nothing will change a human being as much as surviving a natural disaster. - Like for example, you learn that you actually don't need to sleep in air conditioning every day, have a water heater (I mean, Puerto Rico is in the middle of the Caribbean! or even eat three times a day to survive.

  16. I have a roof, I have access to water and I have food, therefore I am rich.

puerto rico hurricane maria

How to Help Puerto Rico Recover from Hurricane María

American Red Cross - Make sure you're in fact donating for Hurricane María relief.

Ricky Martin Foundation - The donation will be made via You Caring Crowdfunding. 

Bethenny - We should all be grateful for this Real Housewife, who went above and beyond helping our little Island and raising awareness about the crisis we're living through. 

Molusco - The most influential person in Puerto Rico is using his voice to collect donations and raise awareness of the situation. 

Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico - This foundation works hand in hand with Feeding America. 

Bloom Box - Fellow Puertorrican Blogger, Natasha Bonet is fundraising to purchase first necessity items for women in the Island. For things like sanitary napkins and tampons, which is something that gets neglected in many donations. Thanks Natasha! 

One last thing... 

Watching Trump tweet and engage in his crazy politics is hard. But watching him personally insult and mistreat your people is truly heart breaking. So I couldn't end this blog post without saying this: Trump, eres un pendejo. #PuertoRicoSeLevanta

Until next time, 

María Elena

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