Single Mom Out Loud

The joys (and desperation) of raising a boy without a man


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My Own Eat Pray Love Adventure

Ah, Eat, Pray, Love.  Is there any book that has been so simultaneously embraced and reviled by women everywhere?

To those of you unfamiliar with the book, Eat, Pray, Love is the memoir of a woman in her early thirties who was left broken after a terrible divorce.  She decided to spend a year around the world: four months in Italy, where she would rediscover pleasure (EAT); four months in India, where she would meditate in an ashram (PRAY); and four months in Bali, where she would learn how to fuse the two (LOVE).

And without giving too much away, she rebuilt her soul in a beautiful way.

I read the book back in 2009 when I was just 23 and right after ending an engagement and soon later finding myself in a very passionate and chaotic relationship with an older man who 4 years later would become the father of my child. At the time the book resonated with me in ways that no other book, movie or story has ever done. 

I knew I wanted to go on a solo trip myself. Some type of journey to find myself just like Liz from Eat Pray Love. But at that age I lacked the money, the strength and the clarity to take the plunge. 

I started dating when I was 15. He was 23 and very abusive. After I turned 20 and gained the maturity and strength to leave him I found myself jumping from relationship to relationship with sometimes not even a week between them. I was codependent, terrified of being alone, completely addicted to the idea of love and repeatedly filling my life with drama and chaos in order to fill the void. 

During these 15 years of broken hearts, failed relationships, and horrific life choices that always pushed me in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be in life, the one thing I always remember wanting to do was travel the world. I wanted to see everything. But I just never gained the courage to do so. A lot of times I did travel. But always with a man. Always because thats what HE wanted to do.

Fast forward to mid 2014 when my son’s father (the guy I dated after my broken engagement) kicked me and our 6 month old son out of his house. I was homeless, jobless, and completely emotionally shattered. It took me roughly a year to get back on my feet. I spent many nights on friends couches with my newborn, I depended on food stamps and relied heavily on my mom for support.

When 2015 came around I was in a much better place, I had rented the loft of my dreams in downtown LA, I was succeeding at my career, my writing was starting to be recognized and featured in major sites and money was starting to flow once again.

But something was still missing.

It wasn’t the desire to be in another relationship again. It wasn’t men. It was my desire to travel.

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For years I had put that desire away due to boys and self created dramas and entanglements with the law. Then later came my big break up (that one that changes everything about us) and all the stress and responsibilities that came with single motherhood. But once my life started to fall back on track and I was finally emotionally stable, I knew that it was time to do what I always wanted to do. Slowly I started to take short trips. I went to 7 different states last year and 2 different countries. One of them was Costa Rica. I spent 10 days there in a solo adventure that empowered me in many ways. I stayed in hostels, I hitchhiked, I made great friends who since then have come to visit me here in LA.

But I wanted more. I wanted a longer trip to a farther destination. A place I did not speak the language. I speak Spanish so Costa Rica wasn’t much of a challenge. And thats what I ultimately wanted: a challenge for my soul.


But I also knew that I couldn’t take 6 months off work or away from my son. Time was limited so I had to plan accordingly. I then reached out to one of my girlfriends and asked her if she wanted to spent two weeks in Thailand with me. To my surprise she did and we immediately booked tickets and I booked all (non refundable) hotels. When traveling alone, I highly recommend hostels and airbnb so you can meet other people who can show you the local hidden gems of your destination. But because hostels charge per person and it was two of us traveling, we came to the conclusion that hotels would be a better option. In Thailand you can book 4 star hotel rooms for $50-60 if you go off season like we were going.

We picked the best options I could find. I paid for them and we would later figure out the details of who owed who. I sent my child to Brazil with my mom for 2 months and things were all set to go.

Then 3 weeks before our trip my friend backed out due to reasons that I rather not discuss because everyone has different morals and opinions on whats right. But I was angry, disappointed and terrified at the same time. I had spent all this money on hotels (that she obviously would no longer pay for her part), I had spent money on my kids ticket to Brazil, I had requested the days off work and I was then faced with two options: Cancel my trip as well and lose all the money I had already invested in it or suck it up and find an alternative.

If this had happened when I was younger I am positive that I would have not had the courage to venture out to southeast Asia alone. But now, at almost 31 ( and with my birthday planned to be spent in a spectacular resort in Phi Phi island), I just couldn’t back out.

I studied carefully my options, safety statistics of Bangkok, Phuket and Phi Phi and I jumped right into what I call my own Eat Pray Love Adventure. I went even further and extended my trip two more weeks to Indonesia (Bali) and Singapore.

If we are going to take a leap of faith might as well jump from the highest cliff.


So in 5 days, my month long Southeast Asia journey begins and I have to admit I am equaly excited and terrified. 

Adventuring alone is exciting, but it’s also scary. But until I realized that I had places I wanted to go and no one to go with, I struck out on my own because my desire to continue traveling was greater than my fear of traveling alone.

Don’t wait as long as I did. When you are in your 20s time is your most valuable asset. Not money, not your job, but your time. Use it wisely.


If you have some place in mind and can’t find anyone to go with, take the plunge yourself. Once you make the decision to go it alone, you can get started planning your awesome solo adventure. The nicest thing about a solo trip is that you get to pick exactly everything you want. One of the best things about solo travel is that you don’t have to compromise with others on what they want from the experience. You can eat wherever you want, do whatever activities you enjoy and spend as much (or little) money you want. Everything is about YOU.

People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.

12994542_10153686699143892_7109618277710404360_n.jpgOf course, single travel has its perils too — such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots. I learned this when I went to Costa Rica.

While you shouldn’t let safety concerns totally dampen your wanderlust, you should take it into consideration when choosing your destination. Do research before booking your trip to make sure the place you’re going is okay for you to travel alone.

Also, make sure you know your basic self defense moves, familiarize yourself with scams common to your destination, be aware of your surroundings, let friends and family know our itinerary and keep them updated throughout the trip so they always know where you are. Make sure you also have the necessities on you at all times in case you need to make a quick escape. This includes enough cash for a cab, a phone card, your ID, and the contact info for your accommodations. Know a few helpful phrases in the local language, such as “help”, “hurt”, “doctor”, and “hospital”.  If you’re in a foreign country, know where the embassy is and roughly how to get there from areas you’ll be spending most of your time. And lastly, time your arrival and departures for daylight (especially if you’ll be lugging a big suitcase with you) so that you can try to avoid anyone wanting to steal your stuff. This was not possible for my SE Asia trip. All my flights are overnight and I don’t arrive in Bangkok, Singapore and Bali until around 2-3am. So in this case I am choosing to wait at the airport until sunrise to get a cab. This will also save me a couple nights in accommodations. 

Solo adventures offer you a sense of freedom in many ways, but the most important thing is to keep yourself safe.

Lastly, document your experience. You’ll be able to give recommendations when people ask in the future. One of my favorite things to talk about with other people is where they plan to go, and to share my suggestions. Making someone else’s trip a little bit more awesome with insider information always feels great!

Traveling alone isn’t for everyone—but you should at least give a try. You’ll have a chance to completely embrace your interests and engage in some self-reflection. Remember, it’s okay to go alone.13015434_10153690508418892_128315276921738469_n.jpg

And don’t forget to check back here and on Instagram/brisaoutloud for (almost) daily updates of my Eat Pray Love Adventure starting March 11th!


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Aleppo Christmas Massacre: Apathy Kills

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“Did you hear about women committing suicide in Aleppo to avoid rape?”

“No I didn’t. That’s horrible.”

“Yeah I know. Did you get the report I sent you? Its due today.”

Apathy kills.

I read the news about Aleppo after hearing about the rape avoidance suicides from my boss. Its heartbreaking. I could feel their pain. I cry. Time to be productive though, my report is due and I can’t afford to not get a bonus. There are Christmas gifts to buy.

Apathy kills.

There are claims that there has been at least one incident of children being burned alive. As president Assad’s forces appear to have taken control of Aleppo which has been at the centre of the country’s bloody civil war for the past four years, there are now concerns for up to 100,000 civilians trapped in the city with no way out. But I need to focus, there is a meeting later and I need to finish a PowerPoint presentation.

Apathy kills.

I drive to lunch, order my salad and read some more. Assad’s army are invading homes and slaughtering women and children. People are sending their farewell messages all over twitter and Facebook. “Where is humanity? Why wont the world help us?”. Why won’t we? My salad is ready; I need to eat quick. My report is still not done and I need that bonus.

Apathy kills.

“If the US and the international community continue to prevaricate on action, we could see 100,000 people killed in Aleppo over Christmas.” Said one newspaper. I cry again. It’s the third time just today. Its a real Christmas massacre. But there is nothing I can do really. Taking in refugees is dangerous to our country. I mean, would you take a handful of skittles from a bowl if you knew one could kill kill you? Of course not. Children being rapped and slaughtered in Aleppo is sad but we can’t risk the skittles. But I want to be clear that I am pro life.

Apathy kills.

Assad’s army are moving in the last rebel controlled area of about 2.5 square miles. At this rate the battle for Aleppo should be over by next week. Right before Christmas. Shit, I still have to buy my Christmas dress.

Apathy kills.

The Syrian regime has made it abundantly clear to all that it will take Aleppo at any cost. And we stand and watch as a slaughter unfolds on our screens in real time, while those who complain about everything are silent and those who could help explain why they can’t. My report is almost done.  I need some coffee.

Apathy Kills.

Another article about Syria on my Facebook feed. I cant help but read it. Assad’s army just bombarded a building with 100 children inside. UNICEF is asking for help. My report is finally done. Its 5pm and I need to pick my up my son. I can taste my bonus.

Apathy kills.

Dinner is ready. My kid is bathed and fed and as I put him to bed safely and healthy I cant help but think about the thousands of children trapped in Aleppo who are hungry and cold and bleeding and dying. I cry yet again. I need to get my mind off of it. A cute puppy video. This is better.

Apathy kills.

Syria reports of massacres against children are all over the internet and TV. The whole world is watching. But instead of intervening, France will just turn off the lights of the Eiffel Tower tonight in solidarity with the people of Aleppo. Instead of protesting the silence of our government in the wake of such brutality, we just continue to write cute posts on Facebook. If we look away long enough it will be over and we wont have to put any of our brave men and women in harm’s way, and can look forward to President Trump charging over the hill to pick up what’s left and do one of his great deals with Putin. He is a great businessman and he will put America first. That’s what matters. And Christmas. And all the gifts under the tree. And my bonus of course.

Apathy kills.


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Nope. 30 Ain’t The New 20.

Turns out, 30 years old is just 30 years old. An age that means you are old enough not to feel young anymore, but not old enough to complain about it. It’s like the middle child of ages… no one is impressed or thinks your turning 30 is a big deal but you.

Today one of my good friends is joining me and turning 30 and I’m not having one of those aha moments of gratitude about my age, which trust me, I do have. A lot. I get that the alternative to aging is terrible, but this post isn’t about that. Instead, I’m treating myself to a blunt assessment of what 30 years of life feels like and what is ahead of me. If you are reading through this post hoping for some kind of wise reflection at the end about how age is “only a number” or “you’re only as old as you feel inside,” abandon ship now. This is going to go full-on honest, with zero redemption, and without a neat resolution to lift you up. I’m going to end it in the middle of a thought with a preposition, because.

Aging by the Numbers
Once you reach your first milestone of aging, you quickly learn that if your age ends in a “9,” it’s somehow worse than if it ends in “0.” So, 29 is actually a worse age than 30 because you are the oldest of the twenty-somethings and dangerously close to putting a fork in another decade of lost dreams, unrealized potential, and your skin’s losing battle with elasticity. You figure out that at least when you turn 30, or start any other fresh decade, you become the young’un and can cobble together a fair amount of optimism for how you are going to take hold of this decade and make it your bitch. It’s sweet you think that.

Being the OCD number freak that I am, as I age, I learned that the “0” to “4” at the end of your age is fantastic, and once you hit the “5,” like 25, you round up. You are essentially 30 and everyone knows it. Second halves of decades go faster. It’s proven… probably. You can tell you are in the late half of the decade because people will say, “Wow, you look good… for your age,” which is not even a compliment. But take it. It’s as good as it gets.

So, 30. One third of the way to 90. Ninety. Nine-ty. We all know how fast the first 30 years flew by, so, in the blink of an eye you’ll be that old person who has fallen and can’t get up — only it won’t be so funny then. And here’s a curveball… I’m not even sure I want to live to 90. Think of all the meals you’ll have to think about and cook? I’m already sick of all food. Think of all the people you’ll have to pretend to like. Think of all the dumb things you will have to hear from 21-year-old idiots who think they are smarter than you and got life all figured out.

And think of your body. If I take my body today and add another 60 years of aging to it, I don’t think that’s going to be a good time, and let me tell you why…

Gravity.
Can you even imagine another 30 years of gravity having its way with your skin, fat, boobs… your junk? Yeah, that’s right, guys. Gravity ain’t helping you either. If it’s sagging now, it’s not going to get any better unless you start walking everywhere on your hands, which is something I have seriously considered.

Digestive System.
A few months ago, my body gave me an early birthday present. Suddenly, without any warning, and because it clearly hates me, it decided, unilaterally, that it was done processing the sugary food I love the way it used to when I was 28. Yup. Just, “F you, B. I’m not processing your shit anymore.” Since then I have gained more weight than I have lost and every single meal is a trip to guilt hell.

I can’t express to you how much I love sweets. Instead of this blog, I toyed with the idea of just writing an ode to sweets, but I couldn’t see through the tears to type it.

You’re 30 now. No sugar for you. Unless you want to be a fat whale.

Sleeping Injuries.
You know, that complete immobility you feel in your neck that’s the result of nothing more than sleeping in your bed? Yup. I spent the day unable to look left. I can barely look right, either, but I’m trying to sprinkle in a little bit of optimism here. The truth is if I just sit here and look straight ahead, it hurts like hell. With every radiating shard of pain, my body seems to be saying, “You know you’re old, right?”

And it’s not just cricks in the neck. It’s all kinds of weird body aches you will now get just by sleeping. You’ll think wistfully about the time you fell off your bike when you were 12, Evel Knievel style… over the handlebars, into a complete asphalt roll… and were completely fine. Nothing even hurt. Nothing. You walked away from that with full mobility. Now, you just wake up in the morning and your knee buckles. And because you are in complete denial about the aging process, you start to ponder what might have caused it, out loud, to anyone who will listen. You throw out ridiculous things like that exercise class you took a week ago, that bike crash when you were 12. But it’s nothing. Nothing caused it except good old-fashioned aging mixed with the seemingly benign act of sleeping.

Zits
I wish I could think of one upside to turning 30, like at least I no longer have to deal with acne. But just this weekend I got three zits. Two unpoppable ones on my forehead that seem to be hardwired into my skull. And one massive blackhead on my chin that I managed to squeeze, creating a cut/soon-to-be scar, while the blackhead stayed perfectly intact, mocking me. I don’t know how to pop a blackhead. I’m 30.

Bars
Perhaps the most annoying thing about turning 30 in my opinion is having to share your favorite dive bar and secret bottomless mimosa place with 21 year olds. What I once love about going to bars and hanging out with “adults” is now just another reason to complain about aging. We are now those “adults” we used to look up to when we were 21. The other day I had a 25 year old BOY offer to buy me a drink. Yes boy. Anything under 30 is automatically a child to me.

No thank you. I will stick to my bourbon that I paid for. You can move along to the children’s table at Ihope please.

Heartwarming Conclusion
Lest you get caught up in the “30 is the new 20” nonsense, brought to you by the makers of Oil of No Way, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t. Twenty was 10 years of youth-you-will-never-get-back ago. What you have gained in wisdom is now being cancelled out by your lack of memory. What you have gained through experience is being cancelled out by “nobody gives a crap what you think, old dude.” So, guess what? You’re just 30. Halfway to 60. One third to 90. A good 12 years past high school graduation. Probably two years away from qualifying for an AARP card, which you should totally get… I hear the deals are amaaazing. And 20 years from complete irrelevance, if you’re lucky. But don’t despair. It’s all good, because at least you aren’t 35. That would be half way to decade hell.


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Mother’s Day: An open letter to my 2 year old son

Dear Son,

You are loved. You are worthy.

If there are only two things I want you to always remember, these are it. As I type this letter you are sitting in your room playing with your little wood car. That’s your favorite car. And ironically it is the only toy your father ever bought you. He bought it in your birth town in Brazil, two weeks before you were born. We left the beach and he saw it in a little local store. He picked it up for you because it was handmade. During that moment I actually thought the three of us were going to be a family. Unfortunately things did not happen the way I dreamed it would, and this week, while watching Calliou calling his father, you asked where your own father was for the first time. I don’t think you understood what your question meant, but I did, so it broke my heart anyways. I didn’t know what to say, I don’t know if I ever will, so I just ignored your innocent question and pointed out the birds.

I don’t know if your father will ever come back into your life. This is not in my control. But I do know that his absence has nothing to do with you or your worth as a person.

Forgive him. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

You may never come to understand why he walked out on you. I may never understand it either. But at least try to understand that it wasn’t your fault.

Forgive him. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

But it’s not all his fault. I shouldn’t have tried to constantly control him and I should have controlled myself instead. I should have acted better.

Forgive me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

There are times the guilt of not being able to give you a traditional family consumes me and I get very depressed. There are times I can’t handle all the pressure and responsibilities and I get upset when you make the smallest mistake.

Forgive me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

There are times, like now, that I am terrified you will become him. Or even worse, that you will become me. But then you smile, reminding me you are neither. You are you; An improved version of him and Me. A perfect combination of us both.

Forgive us. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

A lot of times I push you too much and I expect too much. I am afraid if I don’t you will never know how great you are and you will never reach your fullest potential. For this I don’t ask for forgiveness. I ask for understanding.

Understand me. You are still loved. You are still worthy.

I hope your life is filled with love, joy and laughter. Life is a gift, please don’t take it for granted. But life is not perfect, so be prepared for many challenges and many fears. Many mistakes, disappointments and tears.

And while you are riding the roller coaster of life, when you are down, and when you are high up, two things you always need to know for sure:

You are loved. You are worthy.

-Your Mother

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Moving Past Your Past

Friday I got a call from an ex I haven’t seen in years. Someone I was I love with for a long time. He was in town and wanted to see me. I was hesitant at first but I followed my intuition and decided to accept his invitation.

It was weird. It was uncomfortable. It challenged everything I thought I knew at this point. It forced me to look inside.

Throughout the dinner he repeatedly told me I looked differenty and Talked differently. But I couldn’t really understand what he meant. It wasn’t until I got back home that it got me thinking.

When changes happen in our lives we can’t really see it. It’s not sudden.  Changes happen slowly and almost unnoticeably. As we get caught up in life’s responsibilities and tasks we might forget to notice how substantially our lives are changing.  It wasn’t until Mr. Ex mentioned how much I had changed that I started to notice it.

When I got back home I went to look back at old pictures of us and I didn’t even recognize myself. No lines in my face. A lighter smile of someone who didn’t have all the responsibilities of parenthood but a sad smile of someone who was lost and didn’t know who she was.

I was so miserable and I didn’t even know. I was trapped inside my own body with a bright mind I didn’t know how to use.

I was angry at everything and everyone.

I was a rebel without a cause.

A fighter without a reason.
I wanted to change the world but didn’t even know how to change myself.

I wanted to control everyone and everything just so I could feel safer but reality is I couldn’t even control myself.

As months turned into years. As parenthood arrived and along with it so did single motherhood, I learned that I have learned. I have grown. I have evolved. I have become someone I wouldn’t have recognized 5 years ago.

As cliche as it may sound, some lessons can not be taught. They must be learned through experience.

Maturity can’t be forced or rushed. And it has absolutely nothing to do with age.

Going out with my ex made me realize how  much I have been underestimating  myself.

People change. I’ve changed. Life teaches us to change. With each passing year we learn something new. The irony of life is that as older and wise we get the less likely we are to share those lessons.

So here I am sharing with those who are lost the knowledge that one day everything will in fact be okay.

With times things will fall into place even though there will always be people who want to keep you chained to your past and your mistakes.

I am a mother, a writer, a project manager, an entrepreneur, and a future law student but yet there are people who still hold me to my 24 year old self. 

Break yourself free. You don’t live in your past anymore.

Forgive yourself even if others don’t forgive you. This is what struggle and adulthood has taught me.

You will know you’ve reached personal peace when things start to become so simple it’s scary. We then start to let of some needs, we reduce our baggage.

We begin to understand that people ‘s opinions are exactly just that; theirs. And even if it’s about you it’s irrelevant.

We start to give up our certainties because are really not sure of anything anymore. We stop judging because there is no longer a right or wrong, just the life each person chose to experience. We just understand that what really matters is peace of mind, is living without fear and doing things that makes us happy at each specific moment, even if we don’t get it right.

And that’s all.


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The 5 Things I Learned Traveling Alone

1. The world is not as scary as on TV. 

From the moment we are born we are told the world is a scary place. Our parents main focus is to protect us. To keep us safe in this big universe of ours. They teach us not to talk to strangers, to not trust anyone except them, to be careful when we walk alone. We are programmed to be scared. And we can’t really blame them. Children are vulnerable, innocent and weak. Children are prey to all that is bad in the world.

But as we grow up we need to take upon ourselves the responsibility to unprogram our brains.

We need to turn off the news that constantly tell us about rapes and murders and blood.

There are 7 billion people in this world. If the majority was bad, humanity would have gone extinct a while ago. I am not saying there aren’t dangers in the world, I am saying the good far outweighs the dangers.

Most people will help you get to your destination without harming you. Most people will give you a ride without killing you. Most people are good.
Be smart. Follow your gut instinct. Be open to humans.

2. Loneliness is a human experience. 

Loneliness is the one feeling I constantly experienced traveling alone. Yes, I was surrounded by people everywhere I went. I met amazing new friends that I know I will keep for many years. But a deep feeling of loneliness was part of my entire trip. I would mostly feel lonely when things went wrong or when I didn’t have anywhere to share my perfect moments with.

When a snake bit me I cried. Not because it was painful. But because there was no one there who cared about me to hold my hand.

When I watched the perfect sunset from the top of a cliff I had swam to and climbed at, I felt my eyes tear up. Not because I didn’t like what I was seeing, but because I didn’t have anyone to put my head against.

Loneliness is not permanent. It’s an experience that every human feels. Embrace it. Sit with it. Feel it. Like every other experience, loneliness is temporary. It will come and go, like it did throughout my trip.

Conquer it. Learn to live with it. And don’t ever date someone simply because you are afraid of it.

3. Control is limiting. 

I am a very controlling person by nature. I make dozens of lists a day. Grocery list. Errands list. Meal list. Exercise list. I make lists for lists I need to make. That’s how bad I like to control my life.

Every time I cross a completed item off one of my lists, I feel a bit more accomplished. This is how I have always been. And as much as this OCD organization has kept my life on track, it has also held me back. For every item crossed off that gives me a sense of accomplishment throughout the day, an item left unfinished or incomplete gives me huge amounts of anxiety. If I have to push the car wash from Wednesday to Thursday, I spend at least an extra 30 minutes before before thinking about how I have to get it done this time no matter what. I will literally obsess about unfinished errands as if my life depended on it.

Traveling on my own, I decided to plan every detail of my trip so I wouldn’t find myself lost in Central America. I planned every day and every activity but every single plan went out the window the day I arrived in Costa Rica.

The flight was late and therefore I wasn’t able to visit the national museum in San Jose. The museum was the only reason I had planned a night in San Jose in the first place.

I was frustrated. I knew the trip was set to go to shit just because I missed one thing on my list.

Then something amazing happened.

Because I missed the museum, I went to dinner early instead. And there I met a German girl who was traveling to Nicaragua. She told me the public bus she was taking would pass through La Fortuna (where I was heading) and that I could join her if she wanted. I had originally planned on taking a private shuttle that would cost me $69. But because my flight was delayed and I missed the museum, I was now able to take a public bus that I didn’t even know existed for $5 instead.

And this is how every single day in Costa Rica went. From getting lost, to getting bitten by a snake, to meeting different different people with different plans who invited me to join in. Every day went completely different from what I had planned.

And it was so much better.

For the first time in my life I felt complete and utter freedom. And it felt amazing.

4. You can run. You can hide. But you can’t forget. 

The second main reason I needed to get away and get away alone (besides to learn to embrace my loneliness), was to forget. Forget a guy I had fallen in love with. Forget my life. Forget my problems.

I ran. I hid. But I didn’t forget.

The problems kept consuming my mind. My life was still the same, but in a different continent. And the guy I wanted to forget, kept creeping up in my mind every time I saw something beautiful or experienced something amazing.

In the end, we need to learn to be alone. We are born alone and we are buried alone. There is no reason to attach us so much to others in the mean time.

Those who care, cares.
Those who don’t, just don’t.

5. We need connection not things. 

This trip reminded me how much I love third world countries. It’s such a reality check. It’s grounding. It’s refreshing. The simplicity in Costa Rica reminded me that we don’t need the most expensive cars, and latest iPhones and iPads and brand name clothes. We don’t need all this crap. It only distance is from ourselves. We don’t need tinder and countless dates with shallow conversations with people we don’t even like because we are trying to fill a void we don’t even know we have. We need nature and real human connection beyond the screen of our phones. We need fresh fruits and real food. We need home grown vegetables and chickens.

There is poverty and hunger all around us. There is injustice and oppression all over the world. Every single person reading this is privileged. We did nothing to be born in the country we did to families we did and away from war and hunger. You didn’t earn these life events. It was pure luck.

Quit being entitled. Be grateful.


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On Hard Days: A Reminder 

There will always be days like these. Always. Ones that make you feel like switching off the sun, crawling underneath your skin and forgetting about this whole catastrophic cantankerous world.
Today is too much. Yesterday was more than enough. Tomorrow you just don’t want to know.
You feel broken.
Your cells feel fractured in millions of places, each one dangerously free-falling out of control, slamming hard against the wretched cold, hard floor. Your body is pulled down with them and gravity’s force menacingly keeps you in place.
Everything feels to be against you. All of nature’s elements lean in to watch while you struggle to breathe as the excruciating emotions clog up in your chest.
Sometimes it feels easier to give up and to stay under the covers, rather than stepping over the weighted moments that torment us before they pass.
But, believe me, it isn’t easier and the longer you stay this way the harder it gets to blow the dense clouds that have gathered around you out of harms way.
Although you may have received a few cracks, you are definitely not broken. And I know the world can be dark at times, but there is far more light if you are willing to open your eyes and let it in.
You might have entangled with ones who snubbed you or foolishly mistook your vulnerability for weakness, but they aren’t dragging you down. You are doing it to yourself. Stop. You are more than that loss and that rejection. You are more than your grief or your insecurities or your fear of being abandoned again. 
So do not let whatever has happened so far define you, as every new encounter is a catalyst. Instead, let it catapult you ahead so that you may be carried with the waves and the wind.
You will always rise up wiser and stronger no matter how weakened you feel at the time.  
Parts of your journey may be irreparable, but you are resilient and although you may sway and bend, you will never break.
Even when people do things that hurt every fiber of your being, and you bruise and ache due to the excruciating avalanches of ice-cold loneless that freeze you to the bone, as soon as your passion for life rages inside again, you will quickly thaw out.
Existing on this planet can be harsh at times. You may stumble and falter but you must keep going. You might even fall apart but each shattered piece knows where it belongs and will find its way back. 
You’ve barricaded yourself in so that no one sees how damaged that delicate but fiercely pounding heart of yours is and you’ve hidden that contagious curve in your smile for far too long.

You’ve forgotten your unique multidimensional significance.
That’s okay. You needed some space and time. 
I’m just here to remind you to feel everything deeply. Feel it all, let it run over you. Scream if you want to and let it all out, but don’t ever be afraid of love. The stirring in your soul is necessary. Allow it to move through you and out so it touches everything that exists, regardless of proximity.
Find some thread, stitch up your wounds with colorful thread and create a beautiful tapestry all over your skin. Piece yourself together like a beloved and patchwork blanket and watch how the battle scars that adorned your mind miraculously heal.

“There is a crack in everything.That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

You are not broken. You are breaking through.


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Dirty Thirty: 12 Life Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Sooner

My 20s were everything but stable. I didn’t follow directions or the law, I got arrested multiple times, I broke hearts and had my heart broken in a million pieces, I got fired from jobs, I changed my major 4 times and failed several courses because I was too busy with boys and raves.

I was aimless.

I was smart and arrogant and really annoying.

Three days from now, on St Patrick’s Day I will be turning 30 years old. I will be at a bar surrounded by friends and probably completely out of my mind when it happens. But I’m happy to report that I’m far more responsible and far less pretentious these days. I’ve changed a lot in these 10 years. I don’t get arrested anymore and I no longer spend 48 hours in the middle of nowhere raving with strangers. I got a kid, a career and I am striving to be a writer; something I never even thought would be possible.

In our instant gratification culture, it’s easy to forget that most personal change does not occur as a single static event in time, but rather as a long, gradual evolution where we’re hardly aware of it as it’s happening. We rarely wake up one day and suddenly notice wild, life-altering changes in ourselves. No, our identities slowly shift. 10 years ago I thought at 30 I would be married, with a home, a masters degree and two golden retrievers named Bronx and Brooklyn. Instead, I am single mom, I am alone, I rent and my only golden retriever Bronx just passed away last week. But I am much wiser and self controlled, two words that I never thought I would use to describe myself.

It’s only when we stop years or decades later and look back that we can notice all of the dramatic changes that have taken place. Just as it is difficult to see all the opportunities life gives you until you’re looking back, it is virtually impossible to fully understand certain life circumstances until they actually happen to you. It’s a variation of this final point that I want to explore further today – some important life lessons almost everyone learns the hard way eventually and that I wish I would have learned earlier.

 

1. The people you lose remain a part of you.

Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss.  Either be a friend, a family member or even a pet. It could a divorce or death. The pain of loss is not defined by exact terms. It’s different for everyone. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence.

When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss.  You will never forget them.  However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news.  They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound.  It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the beauty of the dance.

 

 2. Unfortunately the good times pass, and fortunately so do the bad ones.

Pursuing happiness is not at all the same as being happy, which is a fleeting feeling dependent on momentary circumstances.  If the sun is shining, by all means bask in it.  Happy times are great and often fun-filled, but happy times pass, because time passes.  This is something we rarely grasp at first.

Enjoy the happy times. Indulge in it. Don’t take it for granted. Because there will also be times when things go so wrong that you barely feel alive. When this happens do not despair. Sit with yourself. Feel the pain.  Don’t try to avoid it. Sorrow is part of everyone’s lifetime. Its the consequence of having an open and passionate heart. Feel your heart breaking and know with every molecule of your body that it will pass. Just like happy times, sad times have an expiration date as well, even if it feels like it doesn’t.

Life isn’t all or nothing; all good or all bad. it’s all AND nothing, with ups and downs and worthwhile lessons along the way.

 

 3. Your parents are people too.

Perhaps the most disillusioning realization of my 20s: seeing my mom not as the all-knowing protector like I did as a child, and not as the obnoxious and totally uncool authoritarian like I did as a teenager, but a peer, as just a flawed, vulnerable, struggling person doing her best despite often not knowing what the hell she is doing.

Chances are your parents screwed some things up during your childhood. Pretty much all of them do. As a mom myself now, I know the old cliche “Kids aren’t born with instruction manuals” to be more truthful than anything else in life.

But perhaps the first duty of adulthood — true adulthood, not just taxed adulthood — is the acknowledgment, acceptance, and (perhaps) forgiveness of one’s parent’s flaws. They’re people too. They’re doing their best, even though they don’t always know what the best is.

 

4. Travel.

Have you ever heard the cliché that life is short so we need to seize the moment? Well it is. Life is too short and the world is too big for life to be lived in one place. Life’s most valuable things aren’t possessions. It’s the places we see and the memories we make. Stop waiting for a boyfriend to go on that cruise you’ve always wanted to go on or for your best friend to have money to join you on a backpacking trip through Europe. Save money. Book a ticket to a place you’ve never been before. Even if you have to go alone. The world is not a scary place out to get you.

When you are young, your greatest asset is not your talent, not your ideas, not your experience, but your time. Time grants you the opportunity to take big risks and go on big adevntures. Chances are you aren’t strapped by all of the financial responsibilities that come with later adulthood: mortgage payments, car payments, daycare for your kids, life insurance and so on. This is the time in your life where you have the least amount to lose by taking some long term vacation, so you should take them.

There is something powerful in movement. Wander. Explore. Be wild. The only cage we are expected to live in, is the ones we built for ourselves.

 

5. Life is too unpredictable for rigid expectations.

When you stop predicting and expecting things to be a certain way, you can appreciate them for what they are.  Ultimately you will realize that life’s greatest gifts are rarely wrapped the way you expected.

With a positive attitude and an open mind, you will find that life isn’t necessarily any easier or harder than you thought it was going to be; it’s just that “the easy” and “the hard” aren’t exactly the way you had anticipated, and don’t always occur when you expect them to.  This isn’t a bad thing; it makes life interesting.

When things don’t turn out how you expected, accept it. Maybe you made mistakes along the way that contributed to the outcome or maybe it was just an illusion that never really was what you thought it was.  Either are very hard to accept, to realize that you feel a sense of loss, even though you never really had what you thought you had in the first place.

On the other hand, sometimes we have this idea of how the perfect partner will be or the perfect job or the perfect city, and we end up taking for granted or pushing away everyone and everything that doesn’t fit that pre disposed idea in our head.

I for example never expected to be raising a child on my own. I always thought I would either get married and have tons of kids or I would stay single without any kids. The in between was never an option.

Life happened though. I got pregnant. My son’s father walked out on me and my child before he was even born, and I found myself living a life completely different than I had ever imagined. Its not worse, its not better. But its excitingly and surprisingly fulfilling.

Sometimes everything we’ve always wanted will show up in a completely different package. Either be a partner who is the opposite of what you envisioned, an unexpected pregnancy or a whole new city. Be open to life.

 

6. When you try to run away, you end up running in place.

“Don’t think about eating that chocolate donut!”  What are you thinking about now?  Eating that chocolate donut, right?  When you focus on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it.

The same philosophy holds true when it comes to freeing your mind from a negative past experience.  By persistently trying to move away from someone or from what you didn’t like, you are forced to think about it so much that you end up carrying its weight along with you.

Running away from your problems or your past is a race you’ll never win.  Move TOWARDS something instead of AWAY.  Rather than trying to eliminate the negative memory or anything that reminds you of it, focus on creating a new positive memory or link to that experience that just happens to replace the negative.

 

7. Unanticipated hardships are inevitable.

Nobody in this world is going to blindside you and hit you as hard as life will.  Sometimes life will beat you to the ground and try to keep you there if you let it.  But it’s not about how hard life can hit you, it’s about how hard you can be hit while continuing to move forward.  That’s what strength is and that’s what winning the game of life is all about.

Having gone through many painful experiences, trust me when I say that I know there are days when even getting out of bad is the worlds most difficult task. There are days when eating and showering just seems harder than running a marathon.

I’ve been there many times. Sometimes I still do.

But When you have a lot to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and take a step forward instead, you are growing stronger.  Work through your struggles and hardships.  Even when it feels like things are falling apart, they’re not.  Take control of your emotions before they take control of you.  Everything will fall into place eventually.  Until then, learn what you can, laugh loud without worrying who is looking and focus on the positive.

 

8. Beg no one to stay when they have decided to leave.

If someone loves you, they will make time for you, they will call you and they will show you. Either be a friend, a parent or a romantic partner. This is something it took me years to learn and sometimes I even find myself struggling to practice.

Life is not perfect. Life can be hard. There will a few people that you will fall in love with who won’t fall in love with you or who will for a period of time but one day will break your heart by leaving. There will be people who will walk away for no reason at all. There will be people who wont even bother giving you a chance. You can be the best person you can be. You can treat them the best way they have ever been treated, but you cannot make them see you or love you.

Let them go. Let them become the strangers they want to become to you.

You will miss them. You might even still love them for months or years after they leave. That’s okay. Love them from a distance. Send love their way. But don’t beg for their love.

Love is too noble of a feeling to be bargained.

 

9. Life is not a competition.

Life is not a competition, it’s a journey. There are no podiums and no medals.  The race is only with yourself. Stop comparing your life and accomplishments to those around you. There will always be someone better looking, someone richer, someone more successful. The goal is not to be better than everyone, that’s unattainable. The goal is to be better than you were yesterday. It might sound cheesy but you are literally the only person you need to compare yourself to.

Nobody really knows what they are doing. Everyone is just trying to live the best way they know how and working off of their best guess You can’t have everything. You can’t be the best at everything. You can’t accomplish all your goals. So focus on doing a few things really well.

Did I grow? Did I learn? Did I do better than last time?

These are the only competitive questions you need to be asking yourself.

 

10. Guilt is good. Shame is bad.

A lot of people think shame and guilt are the same thing. Don’t be fooled. It’s not.

Guilt is a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense. Its that feeling you get when you do something wrong or bad that you know you shouldn’t have done. Guilt guides most of us to always do the right thing. It’s the radar we have that is highly connected to our morals and conscience. When we make mistakes guilt tells us “what I did is bad”. And it gives us an opportunity to either fix it or apologize for it.

Shame on the other hand is not a radar, it doesn’t guide us to do the right thing. Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. While guilt says “what I did is bad”, shame says “I am bad”. Shame is an emotional and psychological belief that destroys our self esteem. It’s a learned belief that thankfully can be unlearned.

In January 2011 I went through the worst experience of my life. I was young, irrational and had let a man I deeply love get the best of me. The consequences were detrimental to my life. And at the time I felt a lot of guilt and even more shame. I was ashamed of my actions. Ashamed of my life. Ashamed of me. Unlike guilt that propels us forward to do the right thing next time, the shame didn’t propel me anywhere. It kept me stuck in the past, in that horrific moment of my life.

Throughout your life you will make many good choices and you will make many bad ones too. You are human. Life didn’t come with directions or a manual guide. Your bad choices aren’t who you are. You are not bad. Let the shame go.

 

 

11. You can’t force friendships.

There are two types of friends in life: the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like nothing’s changed, and the kind that when you go away for a long time and come back, it feels like everything’s changed.

I’ve spent my life living in a number of different cities and two different continents. Unfortunately, that means that I’ve left a lot of friends behind in various places. What I’ve discovered over this time is that you can’t force a friendship with someone. Either it’s there or it’s not, and whatever “it” is, is so ephemeral and magical that neither one of you could even name it if you tried to. You both just know.

What I’ve also found is that you can rarely predict which friends will stick with you and which ones won’t. I left LA in the spring of 2011 and came back 3 years later. Many of the people I was closest to when I left could hardly even be bothered to call me back when I returned. Yet, some of my more casual acquaintances slowly became the closest friends in my life. It’s not that those other people were bad people or bad friends. It’s nobody fault. It’s just life.

 

12. Go where the love is.

I left this for last because it’s the most important lesson I have recently learned and I wish I would have learned earlier. It would have saved me a lot of tears and countless heartbreaks.

In life, we must learn to appreciate and love people who appreciate and love us. This is something I still struggle with. Have been abandoned by both my mother and my father as a child, I have unconsciously associated love to chasing and absence. I have taken for granted many people who showed me love and kindness and I have found myself falling in love for those who push me away.

There is an urban myth that teaches us, since the times of Shakespeare, that real love must be hard and painful. And that if the road to it is not difficult it must not be real love.

I call that bullshit. Love should not be hard. It should not be painful. Love shouldn’t involve a dramatic effort to “conquer” the person you love. Love is easy. Love is not butterfly feelings in our stomach. That’s anxiety and fear of losing someone.

Think of the love you feel for your best friend or a sibling. The adventures you go together. The conversations you have about life. And the day to day you experience together. Although some times there might be some arguments, overall It’s easy. You don’t feel anxious about hearing from you friend. If you miss them, you call them. There are no games and there are no butterfly feelings or fear that they wont reciprocate the attention and feelings you have for them.

That’s love. That’s the kind of love you should look for in the people you date. Easy. Comfortable.

So stop chasing the people who hurt you because you think that love is selfless and understanding. Stop wanting people who don’t text you back, who don’t notice how great you are or who doesn’t take care for you the way you take care of them. Instead, appreciate the ones who do. Give a chance to that coworker who is always checking in on you. Or to the girl who goes out of her way to take care of you when you are sick or is always helping you out whenever you need. The exciting guys (and girls) rarely stick around. And if they do, the feeling of excitement itself wont. After some time, the butterflies will fly away, the excitement and passion will fade, and the only thing left will be your friendship and how well you two work together.

Your life will be much happier when you learn to love those who love you and let those who don’t, go.

Go where the love is.

 


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Dear Son… It’s International Women’s Day

Dear son,

Today is International Women’s Day but there are no real reasons to celebrate. It has been decades, centuries actually, of oppression, of inequality and denial of basic rights.

Today while millions of women celebrate our day, millions of others are being beaten, raped and silenced. As we see our social media pages and news sites filled with roses and pink honoring our accomplishments worldwide, there are girls being forced into marriages and women working for way less than their male equals.

But oppression goes way further than the issues listed above. Oppression is what we experience daily. Day after day we struggle with the same basic issues. We can’t walk down the street without being harassed. We can’t travel alone without the fear of being raped or murdered. We can’t have sex without being slut shamed. We can’t drink without being judged. We can’t even end relationships without fearing for our safety.

I hope as you grow and become a man you realize the role and responsibility you have in standing up for every woman in this world. You are not better than any of them. Your voice is not more important than theirs. Your accomplishments are not greater. Its essential for me to remind you that we are all equal. Girls play soccer, girls fly planes, girls fight in wars, girls are presidents. Girls can do anything you can do, although and unfortunately their path to success will always be longer and more challenging than yours.

Whenever you wonder how you should treat a girl, think of me, think of your grandma, think of your 3 half sisters.Think of how you want the world to treat us. That’s exactly how you should treat the stranger down the street, the drunk girls you will meet at college parties, and all other women who will one day cross your path.

Some will love you, some will hurt you, some will challenge you and some, hopefully, will change you. And all of them deserve your undivided respect, regardless of the clothing they are wearing or the drink they are carrying.

And while we are talking about clothing, understand that the way a woman chooses to dress is not up for you to decide. Their clothing are not for you to approve or for you to indulge. Its for them. And your job as a man is to always fight for their right to wear what they feel fit whenever they feel fit, without the fear of being raped.

Don’t ever joke about rape.

Don’t ever leave a woman behind in a situation where she can be raped.

I wish I could say that you will never meet a girl who has been raped, because unfortunately you will. Not one, not two, but many. Most won’t disclose this information with you but believe the studies and polls when tell you that one in every four women will suffer some type of sexual assault in her lifetime. It’s my job to talk to you about this with the hope that you will bring awareness to and positively influence your male friends.

It’s NEVER EVER her fault.

She NEVER EVER asked for it, no matter what you hear from strangers. Trust me, you will hear victim blaming comments from misognistic people your entire life. So in respect to the victims of rape, ALWAYS protect their right to have safe and legal abortions. Actually, forget that. ALWAYS protect a woman’s right to abort NO MATTER what the circumstances. It’s our right. Protect it. Fight for it. Because everyday there will be people fighting to take that right away from us.

You see, many still view us women as nothing more than sexual objects, whose primary purposes are to satisfy and procreate. Many still don’t respect our autonomy and refuse to acknowledge that our bodies belong to US; not to the state, not to our husbands and definitely not to the church and God.

God. That’s an important word for you to learn. Not because you will believe in it, but because people have done and still do horrible things to women in the name of it.

Understand these things and fight them.

We, women, need your voice.

You were born privileged, simply for being a man. The world will take you more seriously, it will listen to your voice more attentively and it will offer you opportunities more frequently. Embrace this privilege and use this privilege for the greater good of all women who will one day share this world with you. The fight for equality is not over, its just starting. You and I shall both fight together. Today, tomorrow and as long as there are oppressed women alive, you and I shall speak up and fight.

Love,

Your Mom