7 Tips for Responsible Tourism in Cuba

 “Visiting other countries and peoples today has helped many to realize that we are truly one human family and that we have the potential of living together on earth in peace [source].”

Aside from experiencing a glimpse into a beautifully unique culture, visiting Cuba allows you the opportunity to practice responsible tourism and sustainable practices which, aside from minimizing negative social impacts, will generate greater economic benefits for locals. For me, this meant enjoying my travels on a much higher level.

The Viñales Valley

Llegamos a Viñales y sin inconvenientes. Nos dieron la bienvenida los mogotes, una brisa fresca, y el gentío cuya personalidad es tan colorida como las cabañitas que adornan este pueblo. Un pueblo que subsiste a base del turismo, donde hay exceso de extranjeros y esperanza.

5 Female Characters Who Changed My Life

The beauty of a woman is that you’ll never be the same once one has entered your life. It doesn’t matter how long she stays, if it was for the worse or for the better, the fact is once she’s gone you’ll never be the same. This is the effect women have. And this is the case whether she’s real or imagined, dead or alive. So, in honor of Women’s History Month, I will share with you five female characters who changed my life. (Keep in mind the list is not exhaustive, and only includes characters from books I read in my formative years.)

Dating the Introvert I Married | Lincoln Date Night

Stop and think for a moment, to what extent have you been conditioned to value loud and in-your face vs. quiet subtly? Society would have us believe that arrogance equals power and that quiet voices are a sign of weakness. I must admit, in the past I may have been partial to these views because as an extrovert they often excuse my misbehavior. Even harder to admit, at times I may have allowed these to seep into my relationship. Having married an introvert, it has taken me years to understand my husband as “the introvert”. It isn’t until now, in our thirties, that I have started learning to value our differences. Which is why as a brand, Lincoln’s “Quiet Luxury” has always appealed to me. I like the idea that power can exist in the absence of arrogance. In fact, Lincoln seems to understand my husband a bit better than I did. So, I arranged for a date night sponsored and inspired by Lincoln Motor Company’s theme of quiet luxury. I placed myself in the mindset of an introvert and planned our date with these 5 buffers in mind:

5 Ways Printing Your Photos Can Change Your Perspective

When you think of 2016, what emotions do the memories evoke?

It’s true, the lives of many brilliantly creative people were lost in 2016, wars were fought, there were protests, and just general sadness. On a more personal level, this year was one of my worst and when 2017 began, I was exhausted! I needed a change in perspective! To combat the emotional exhaustion, I set out to look back on 2016 more reflectively. Using the photos on my phone’s gallery and the Kodak Moments App, I printed my highlights of the last year. When I sought out the good, I realized that there were so many moments in the past year that I’m grateful for.

Buy a House in Under 5 Years With These 5 Secrets

This week the IG Husband and I said goodbye, cut all ties, and parted ways…with our mortgage lender! It’s the most responsible, liberating, adult thing we’ve ever done. After a long short four years we paid off our mortgage and became homeowners. To commemorate the best way I know how, I’m sharing the photos from our first-home photo-shoot and sharing my 5 secrets to buying a home in less than 5 years.

 How did you pay off your house?

How To Be Friends With Someone Who’s Depressed

In our overly connected society, we may often confuse connectivity with connection, human connection that is. Commenting, texting, reposting, and retweeting have become substitutes for communication and we often erroneously use these to gauge the status of a relationship. That can be dangerous, because the truth is, so much gets overlooked when scrolling through our feeds. Sometimes it’s either way too apparent that a friend is suffering from depression or anxiety[i] and we are quick to catalogue them as “dark”. Other times, our friends become experts at curating their lives to showcase a surreal perfection, and the easiest thing is for us to believe that they are alright.

So, you notice your friend is feeling the blues, the reds, and every color in between. What can you do if you suspect a close friend may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety?

How To Be Friends With Someone Who's Depressed

How to Forgive Yourself From The Heart

What is the first mistake you ever made?

For this blog post I tried to think of the earliest memory I have of making a mistake. It was nearly impossible and not because I never made mistakes. Being the runt of my siblings made me not only the most annoying of the three, but also the most likely to piss my brother off. Still, today I couldn’t remember the bloopers of my childhood, those mistakes were just too minimal to register. Don’t you just wish you could go back in time to when the biggest mistake you ever made was recording over your sister’s favorite 90s mix-tape?

Forgive Yourself

My First Year Blogging

Interestingly, the person who taught me to read was not a teacher, it was my mother. To motivate me, she promised she’d throw me a reading party when I was able to read my first paragraph. Her logic was, I needed to be able to read the writing on the cake. So, we practiced syallabic patterns every day, because that’s how you learn to read in Spanish, until I was ready to combine them and make words, and then we read sentences. Finally, the day of my party arrived. My mother invited everyone we knew to a park. There, she presented me with a huge sheet cake that read “Felicidades”. That day, my mother taught me that important milestones are to be celebrated.

Learning to Love

Originally appeared on LauraSgroi.com as part of her Now That I’m in My Thirties project.

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

Picture of a Polaroid

My Survival Story

I’m an escape artist of sorts. I find myself in situations dangerously close to death, and manage to escape them.

The first time I escaped death I was too young to form any recollection of it. Since I was only two years old, I have to rely on the memories of both my parents. The problem is that opposing sides always tend to tell a different story. Over time, I have come to piece together snippets of moments in time and thread a somewhat believable story. The year was 1987 in Venezuela. My mother watched as my belly swelled, listened to my insufferable shrieks, and instinctively knew something had to be wrong. My father’s pseudo-knowledge of medicine acquired through years of hypochondria and anxiety, confirmed that something had to be wrong with their youngest child. Doctors suspected renal failure, later studies confirmed I had been born with a defect that had to be corrected through an operation.

Love Yourself

#SelfLoveisTrueLove

The day I hit rock bottom was a weekday. I finally woke up after hitting the snooze button every ten minutes… consecutively… for an hour. I opened my eyes and thought to myself, “If I can manage to get ready in five minutes, I will only be fifteen minutes late for work”. But I could not get my legs and arms to move as quickly as my mind. Like anvils weighing me down, I couldn’t get my legs to move at all. In fact, I was nearly catatonic. That day, my husband showered me, dressed me, and drove me to work. I didn’t even have the energy to feel embarrassed about that. At work, I couldn’t explain that for weeks, I had suddenly began experiencing panic attacks in social situations. The way I couldn’t explain or my tardiness that day. Or, worse yet, I couldn’t explain that the reason I looked like I had been hit by a Mack truck was because I had been dressed by a boy. That was the day I resolved to seek medical attention. The diagnosis: stress.

Introduccion a Cartagena

Pisar dentro de Cartagena de Indias, la ciudad amurallada, es ser transportado automáticamente a una época llena de ambición y posibilidad. De pronto respiras un aire salado impregnado con coco y pescado frito y no solo das  fuerzas  a tus pulmones sino a tus sueños irrealizados también. Al exhalar, el sonido de un acordeón en la lejanía le hace armonía al deambular de un caballo. Un vendedor ambulante suena como metrónomo de una canción <<Botero, Botero, Botero>> en la que todos somos participes haciéndole los acompañamientos con nuestras conversaciones plurilingües. Te sientes inseguro, y sin saber el porqué.

#Let’sGetUgly | Vixen Workout Review

Originally appeared on CoralGablesLove.com

Last month for 60 minutes, a room full of women became hunger posing, kitten stretching, vixens. If it sounds ugly, that was our intention. As part of the new “Let’s Get Ugly” campaign, Propel Electrolyte Water teamed up with the city’s hottest DJs, fitness studios, & instructors to perfectly curate three days of workouts in Miami as part of this summer’s Propel Co:Labs. So, what does it mean to “Get Ugly”? The term refers to the post-workout grit one feels after a particularly challenging routine. It’s embodies the feeling after a workout session that was so intense you finish head-to-toe drenched in sweat, feeling the need to lie down, while at the same time adrenaline and endorphins are running through you.

#LetsGetUgly with Blogger Mei from Blame it On Mei

Photo Inspiration for Havana, Cuba

Reflexiones

Después de haber pasado 5 días en La Habana, y haber recorrido por Matanzas, Mayabeque, El Cotorro, Regla, y el Barrio Chino, sigo pensando que las fronteras son el sistema más divisivo. Cierto, el sistema de Cuba tiene sus flaquezas, pero ¿no las tiene el de nuestros países también al mantenernos tan alejados los uno de los otros?

Todos tienen muy presentes sus traumas del pasado. El temor. El rencor. Extrañan a sus seres queridos que se han ido. Los ven tan lejos no sabiendo lo cerca que están y aunque no los culpan, cada uno que se ha ido ha dejado hoyos; vacíos que se han hecho difícil de llenar debido a la corta inspiración.

Existe una especie de rebelión del trabajador. Muchos que se niegan a trabajar y aun así tantos en Cuba nos hablaban del dinero, de sueldos, de escasez. Temas que se considerarían tabú en muchos otros lugares. Han borrado de sus mentes los sueño y conocí a un pueblo falto de esperanza, hambrientos de cambio. Oíamos “oye, llegaron papas, ¡corre que se acaban!” Y, aun así, vivimos la hospitalidad en carne propia.

Me di cuenta lo efímero que pueden ser algunas cosas por las cuales nos obsesionamos en muchos lugares. Fue así que aprendí que la inspiración y la cultura deben ser independiente del dinero. Un pintor debería de seguir pintando. Un maestro debería amar su profesión y un alumno el estudiar. Me di cuenta que el educarse vale más que el precio, aunque nadie se lo page. Aprendí a ser agradecida. Porque, al no serlo, correría el riesgo de convertirme en una amargada. Aprendí que la hospitalidad viene de adentro – de lo que uno tiene, no de lo que no se tiene. Aprendí a apreciar a los recién llegados que tuvieron el valor de soñar y ambicionar. Pero, por primera vez, pude apreciar a los que se han contentado con el sustento y el día a día. Los que han tenido el valor para amar, esperar, y aguantar.

Inspirational Women in Their Thirties | Whiskey Ambassador Alexis Green

Have you ever wondered what’s on the other side of that ever elusive ‘road less traveled’? What actually happens when you make less traditional choices in life? For Alexis Green, who claims to have never been a “sit quietly at her desk for eight hours a day” type of person to begin with, it meant realizing that city life wasn’t for her, quitting a full-time salaried marketing job, and moving to cottage country in Ontario, Canada. I first met Alexis Green at a Women Who Whiskey[1] event in Miami where, as brand ambassador for Collingwood Whisky, she was completely in her element having conversations of substance with like-minded women while educating them about whiskey.

Hey, Girls Drink Whiskey Too!

Disclosure: Although I was invited by Cooper’s Craft to attend the Summer Sipper’s event and try their bourbon whiskey, all opinions come from the bottom of my tiny blogging heart. ❤

Have you ever stopped to think how confined we are by traditional gender stereotypes; these tiny social constructs that affect so many of the trivial daily decisions that we make? Anything from what we wear to what we drink is affected by societal norms. But besides being exhausting, the stereotypes we use can be so limiting. That’s what I realized when I was invited to the Cooper’s Craft Summer Sipper’s event to try their bourbon whiskey.

Traditionally, whiskey is considered an old-fashioned man’s drink. So, just as I hadn’t learned to drink beer until I was in my thirties, in keeping with tradition, I had never tried whiskey until my thirties either. But since I’ll do nearly anything for a writing assignment, I decided to attend the event and give this bourbon whiskey a try.

Photo Credit: Nabila Verushka

What You Need to Know About Finding Depression Support Online

After my post about high-functioning depression, I was able to connect with Natasha who shared the following post.[i]

Depression, by nature, is an incredibly lonely experience. Your brain twists your thoughts, you don’t have the energy or motivation to spend time with friends or do the things that make you happy, your body aches, and nobody in your social circle truly understands what it is you’re going through. Lonely.

While there are many forms of treatment and therapies available, having someone to talk to, connect with, and who will listen and understand can be so important. Individual therapy for depression and support groups can be very effective, but are often restricted by time and availability.

The internet removes so many of these barriers. Time, location, and language aren’t restrictions when connecting online; social media, forums, and online communities provide us with worldwide connectivity. There are a large number of people in the world who are experiencing depression at the same time that you are, are looking to support those who are suffering, or are available to lend and ear to those in need. You don’t have to feel alone.