My Big Fat Colombian Family

My heritage is a huge part of who I am and I’m honestly so amazed by it. The whole passion for a culture like a hispanic culture is different and it varies by family and of course, by culture. Mainly, cultures have the tendency to either be individualistic or collectivistic. Allow me to give you a quick crash course in intercultural communication…

Individualistic cultures are me-me cultures. “get yourself up by your own bootstrap” type of cultures. It’s very independent, very self-driven, and that’s not to be confused with being selfish, but it’s a different approach to community-life. The idea is that you feel more of a motivation in and of yourself to go further and get ahead.

Collectivistic cultures are a we-we culture. The people of these cultures mainly respond with “what can we do to help you”, “what do we do”, “we can get through this together”. It’s a really beautiful thing and you’ll know and feel a collective culture when you’re in one. The people are super sweet and are almost always willing to help someone out in need, you feel a sense of community, in that regards.

So, for those of you who don’t know…  I’m Colombian. Well, my family is. Straight off the plane, utterly and completely COLOMBIAN. 

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…And that’s not even all of them.

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Being a part of the Colombian culture, means that it is highly collectivistic. For the most part, my family are very welcoming people. I’m sure it can be said about a lot of hispanic families, but when you’re around mine, you feel like you’re a part of something great. It’s never a dull moment with them.  Every time I get off the plane, there’s always a select few of my family members who come to pick me up and seeing their faces light up, is the reason why I go back, every.damn.time. There’s always food waiting at home and even more people to see.

Another reason as to why I go back is because of how pretty it is… We’re from the coast, more specifically, Cartagena of the Indies.

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There’s so many things to do in the city and believe me,  it is so easy to get lost in the city. But I guess that’s how you learn about a new country or city that you visit, right? How can you not get lost in a city that has so much history and beauty??

The city and country itself is as beautiful as its people. The people here are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet. With such ease, they are willing to accept someone as part of the family or group. When they say ‘hi’ they approach one with a hug and kiss on the cheek.

As I have said before: us, Colombians, are very family-oriented. I am not kidding! Many people have such a love for their families, that often times, in midst of all their successes or lack thereof, they’re always thankful for their family, because  of the pride they have for their family over successes/ material things.

I mean it’s great if you have boat loads of money or loads of success, but what’s even better is the support you have from the family. Here, family is always there for you to help you up, be that shoulder to lean on, and always around for a great time out. To many people, Family is everything.

In fact, when you ask colombians (or anyone of hispanic descent) about their immediate family, they don’t just talk about their parents and any siblings they have, they literally talk about their whole family. Hell, even when people ask me about my family, I go on and talk about all the fun memories I have had with some of them, both here in the states and over in Cartagena. Needless to say, the bond in my family is so strong that we have our own massive group chat on WhatsApp!

But overall, I’m so thankful for the united family I have, they have set down the foundation for my heritage, the way I should carry myself, among so many other things. My family is my motivation. I want to be a better person for not just myself, but for my family.

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Blood is thicker than water and my family has helped me through so much, that being my little rough patch with depression and anxiety. They helped me get the help I needed and still continue to motivate me everyday.

Even with miles and miles between us, I know that we will always remain united at heart.

Sending tons and tons of love and light your way,

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3 Ways to Be A Better Friend

Hi guys! Welcome back to ADM. This summer, I’m interning at this local radio station, not far from where I live and I’ve been signing up for events left and right! One of my favorite things about this job, is that I get to meet so many people at different events. It’s definitely a steeping stone into something I want to do with my public relations degree, which is pretty cool!

So in light of what has happened with Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I want to take a moment to talk about the importance of having a support system. As humans,

we need people to understand us,

we need love,

we need compassion

Depression and other mental illnesses are not something that we can ‘just get over’. It is a long struggle and sometimes, it takes this long to realize that there is a problem. There needs to be more advocacy for people and that while it is okay to not be okay, it’s also okay to reach out, regardless. So here are 5 ways we can be better friends to the people we love and care about.

1. Listen more than you talk

Sometimes, we get caught up in talking about our lives and telling friends what’s new in OUR OWN LIVES, that we often forget to ask how the other is doing. Getting into the habit of giving yourself enough speaking time can totally make you more reliable and more willing to listen to what the other person is saying. The more we are able to listen, the better we are at responding more thoughtfully. When you listen, you can also pick up on some patterns that they may subconsciously engage in and you can take note in that and follow up with questions like:

“When you said (*insert what they said*), what did you mean?”

or

“Hey, it sounds like you’re on edge about something, are you okay?”

Having the ability to listen, is key, especially if you are trying to console a person you consider your best friend. When you listen, do so with the sole purpose of just hearing the person out in their opinions. Listening should be absolutely judgement free.

2. Honesty is The Best Policy

I’m pretty sure y’all have heard this one more than once. Honesty in every relationship is essential. When you’re honest with the person, you are letting them take a step into your perspective. Better yet, you are physically opening the door to them into the way that you see a situation panning out. If I’m asking for advice, I’d appreciate it if people are honest with me (not saying that any of my friends reading this aren’t, I’m just illustrating a point). The more honest you are with the person you are friends with, the more accountable you are, the more reliable you are to that person.

A person who is no-bullshit, brutally honest with me, is someone worth having in my life. It’s no shocker that I’m brutally honest with my friends. In any advice I give them, I don’t mess around, I speak my mind on the situation as. I. see. it.

Granted, I make an effort to at least give myself a moment to cool down or to collect my thoughts, so that I don’t sound like a complete bitch… but at the end of the day, if I care about the person, I’m definitely going to be honest with them and tell them exactly how I feel about a situation they need advice in.

Remember: a friend who cares enough to be honest is a friend worth having around.

3. Being Attentive

When I mean be there for your friend, I mean be there at their beck and call. We need to be able to rely on each other when we are weak. The way I see it, is if we feel weak at some point or another, we need to reach out to people who are closest to us, not our 500+ followers on Instagram or the world wide web. It is in times like these, that sometimes people need more than just a “feel better soon”, “aw nooo”, etc. We need to be present and actually there for our friends.

I remember one time, I was grieving over the loss of a relative and I remember calling a friend at the time and after the phone call, I didn’t really feel that much better.

When I had told another friend about the same situation, they offered to meet up with me at the nearest restaurant. I remember feeling like an anxious mess and getting sauce all over my leggings haha, but the important part was that I had a friend who was willing to sit with me, just listen and tell me funny stories.

Again, it is okay to not be okay, but it is even better if you have someone there who can see that you are not okay and goes a step further, by being physically there for you. Life is tough, but it doesn’t always have to be, if you keep a couple of close friends nearby.

I could seriously give you 5 ways on up to 100 ways to be a better friend, but they would all stem from these top 3 ways in which you can incorporate these into your everyday life as a human! Be that friend that is really there for your person and help them get to their best self, because we need each other to grow, to live, and to love. Reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while and ask the simple question: “Hey, how’ve you been”.

 

Sending Love and Light your way,

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Accepting Criticism

Hey guys! I know it’s been a while, buuuut… I recently traveled to Australia!!! I did a week-long program that united other scholars from different countries with a common interest in business and entrepreneurship! It was an amazing experience and I hope that in the coming posts I can share with you some very important things that I have learned from this whole excursion.

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Photo by Catarina Sousa on Pexels.com

The week consisted of waking up early, getting on the bus on time, taking notes from various speakers, seeing new things and meeting new people, as well as learning from these people.

The one thing that I gained from this program has got to be the willingness to accept criticism. Not destructive, but constructive criticism. One day, we were in Melbourne at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and we were doing an exercise– as directed by a professor of that University– that was called an “elevator pitch”. For those wondering what an elevator pitch is, it’s basically a hypothetical (but possible) situation where you try to get a potential employer of a company that you have a strong desire to work for them, to look your way and consider you as a candidate for a job at their company. All while you’re in the elevator with them. It’s really fascinating! Here’s the prompt:

the challenge was: we had to keep this short, sweet and to the point. All under 2 minutes. Starting off, I did something simple.. which was follow the exact skeleton of this flow chart:

The Professor then asked for 3 people to come on up to the front of the room. I raised my hand because, well, why the fuck not? I wanted to learn how to craft a good pitch that didn’t sound too wordy.

So I go first, but before I started, the professor asks me what job am I going for and what type of company: both of which were already answered on this little piece of paper I had. I basically read off of my constructed flow chart and I trip up a bit, and as a result, I ran out of time.

It was time for people to critique me and give me their honest opinion of my elevator pitch. I’m not going to lie to you, but I felt like I was being attacked. People left and right were critiquing me really hard and I really was resisting the urge to talk back to them. But then in that same moment, I realized that I was taking it way too personal. I chose to do this because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So I listened intently to the people who were giving me feedback, I let them ‘roast’ me. Because I’m always looking to grow as a person. Further, I noticed that we, as humans, are so quick to judge/critique someone else, yet fail to look at ourselves and see where we fall short. We neglect to see it in ourselves, but choose to see it in other people.

Accepting criticism has been one of my toughest feats. I get it on a daily basis from some friends and a good bit of my family. I’ve never been good at accepting it, because well, I thought that if its something that I’m doing wrong, I should be able to learn it by myself.  My thought process was, No one really likes being told what to do. Anytime someone critiqued me, I would get on the defensive with a lame excuse. But thankfully, all those excuses ended the day I decided to accept criticism.

I decided that in order to grow, to learn, I had to learn how to accept criticism of others who may have more experience than me. What if I land a job that requires me to learn new things and to accept constructive criticism on the daily? How is getting mad at each critique going to help me out in the long run? It won’t.

Getting mad at critiques from people who expect better, isn’t a reflection on the person giving them, it’s a reflection of the person who takes it. I mean, picture this, you’re doing your work (whether it be in college, at an internship, etc) and your superior comes up to you to give you feedback on some work. If you get angry and storm off, then it just shows that you can’t accept criticism. What person is going to hire someone who cannot take open and honest feedback?

So Back to the story… with all the constructive criticism that I received from the audience, I was then able to re position my stance a bit:

And I made it with enough time to spare! What followed after I gave this pitch another try, were less critiques. A lot of people clapped for me, while others still critiqued by saying that I sounded ‘too desperate’. Nevertheless, I learned something new that day and it gave me more of a motivation to grow and to get out of my comfort zone.

‘Cause Baby You’re Worth It

Hey guys! I’ve been so busy getting all my assignments in for midterms (only to find out that most my classes have been cancelled as a result of this snowstorm). Before I begin, I’d like to wish a Happy Belated International Women’s Day, to women of the world. May we love them, respect them, and learn from them!

One day, I was driving home from school and was listening to the radio. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to turn up the volume on a good song!

Has anyone heard of Fifth Harmony’s song “Worth It”?

I freaking love listening to this song and even though it has been played more than a million times on the radio, I still jam out whenever it comes on. On the day that I was driving back, however, I paid attention to the lyrics more than ever.

Give it to me, I’m worth it
Baby I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it

These opening lines are so empowering. I know that this is in reference to a girl telling her man that she wants a specific thing, but to me, it means so much more. This sassy vocal in this doesn’t play around or beat around the bush. The singer knows what she wants and isn’t going to question it. I feel like that is what we all aspire to be.

How many times do we say “I’m going to be more true to myself” or “I’m tired of being afraid of who I am”? I mean, we are entitled to what we want and it’s up to us to articulate that. We DESERVE that, because baby, we’re worth it.

I’ve spent most of my life being afraid of who I am and who I wanted to be. It took me awhile to find my worth and that’s something I want to share. From a pretty young age, I remember feeling pretty shitty about myself. Then again, it wasn’t just me who felt this way towards me.

I often gravitated to the people who were “popular” or people who never really shared similar beliefs in terms of academics and success.

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enter 13-year-old me.

I surrounded myself around people who never even bothered to see my worth. What’s even crazier, is I thought that they would, only because I didn’t see worth within myself.

It took me a long time to get to where I am today. I’ve been dying to write about something like this but have not yet had the right words to describe my experience- or battle, if you will- with this, until now.

Looking back, I’ve always been outgoing, sassy and sarcastic, but only with the people I considered my friends and close family members.

It wasn’t until I got to college that all of that changed. One of the main things that I wanted to do was step out of my comfort zone. After all, I noticed a significant change in my mood, thanks to the anti-depressants I was on. While I was at college, I made a ton of new friends and I felt a sense of ease because I realized that I could be me. I could be me and see the load of worth I found in myself throughout my recovery.

The moment that you find your worth, is the moment that things start to come together. For example, when I set out to find a group of friends who shared similar beliefs and were people I could have fun with, life gravitated me to that.

I became this very outgoing sassy person and I loved it! I’m still this way today, but now I let it radiate through to everyone I meet, which is an amazing feeling.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past and how it has lead me to now. There have been certain things that have definitely set me back, but now I’m getting into the mindful habit of not letting myself be stuck in the past. Instead of being stuck, I’m learning from the past because it serves as a big lesson in life.

However, I get that it’s so much better to ditch the past because who cares, right? The thing is though, sometimes the past serves as a lesson. When you notice something, like a pattern or even a habit you get into, from time to time, you become more aware of your own short comings.

For example, I had this unbearable habit of talking smack about my friends behind their backs to people they were close to. Time and time again proved that I cannot always trust people who are close to these so-called friends of mine.

But when life throws us a lesson, do we make the effort to listen to it and learn from it?

More than half the time, we don’t. Before we know it, we’ve fallen victim to the same thing.

Or like whenever I would engage in self-depreciating behavior, I remember holding myself up to a standard and putting all this pressure on myself to be the best. I thought that if I fell below that, it meant that I wasn’t deserving of all the good things in life.

It took me a long time to realize that I can never be perfect. The only one who is, is the big man upstairs.

Now, I am more conscious of being mindful whenever I make a mistake. In fact, I’ll do one of two things: laugh it off or just say – to myself – any of these phrases, “the more I know”, “good to know”, “well, you didn’t know, but you know now for the future”, etc etc. Even if I feel myself come to have self-deprecating thoughts, I stop it by saying “okay, so lets not get self deprecating up in here, let’s look for a solution to my problem, instead.”

It also boils down to whoyou surround yourself with and what you surround yourself with to feel worthy. Make sure that both your who and your what are positive things, because if you think about it, these two things are interdependent of each other.

If your who involves people who are toxic and feed off of your energy, then most likely your ‘what’ is going to involve some self-deprecating behaviors.

not at all saying that drinking is bad, but if you’re doing it to fill a void of worthlessness then check out my post on voids

The same thing goes with good things too. If your ‘who’ are people who motivate you, make you feel at ease, then your ‘what’ is going to be some mindful behaviors that are productive and help you work towards your goals.

Bottom line: Find your worth and see where it leads you. Engage in behaviors that promote mindfulness and allow you to grow. Look to the past and learn from it.

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“Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”- 1 Corinthians 10:6-11

Sending love and light your way!

Go shopping with me on Amazon!

Losing Weight: The Part No One Talks About

Hey guys so this past week, I had a doctor’s appointment. It was just a check up and to see if I still needed to get a vaccine.

So I get my height, weight, and eye sight checked by the nurse. The usual. Then I was redirected to an examination room where I could wait for the doctor. So I sit there waiting for the doctor, and since I was the only one in the office, the doctor came by pretty quick.

They look at my chart on their laptop and notices that I gained 5 pounds.

*GASP* “Karen, you gained FIVE pounds?!”

and without missing a beat I said, “it’s probably just muscle because I’ve noticed my legs have gotten more toned.”

To which the doctor responds, “Yeah, but your BMI is a ____. You’re ‘overweight’ for your height”

Simply put, I was called fat. When CLEARLY I am not.

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Family vacation in Bermuda (December 2017)

They brought up the literal Body Mass Index chart. In my opinion, that chart is a messed up construct used to classify people by how fat/overweight they are. No one uses that when they’re talking about their weight, like I don’t go around saying ” I’m a *insert bullshit BMI chart number here*”. In fact, no one really knows what those standards are and if I were to ask someone what their BMI is, do you think they would know? NO.

We live in not just a body sensitive world, but also a body positive one.

Body sensitive, in that now, what you communicate to a patient or anyone can have profound effects on their mental/emotional mindset as well as their own perception of themselves. There are some people who cannot have their weight be said out loud or who refuse to have their weight being done for a doctors check up because of this.

This is all in reference to a psychological theory called Social Comparison Theory(SCT). SCT is when you see where you stack up in a group and how there are certain attributes that you latch onto. So say someone says “you’re very gorgeous and you would make a man very happy”, you tend to latch onto this attribute of being very gorgeous. You find yourself in a group with other gorgeous people and you see where you stack up from “gorgeous” to “not gorgeous”. When you see that you don’t even stack up in said group, then you leave the group and see where you stack up in another.

This happens a lot more on social media. So you are still latched onto the “gorgeous” attribute, so when you go on sites like Instagram and Facebook, you actively start searching for gorgeous looking people and therefore seeing if you even compare to these Instagram models.

When we focus too much on that and we don’t see that we can compete with this standard of beauty, what happens is we internalize an awful load of negativity about ourselves, causing depression, cutting, and eating disorders.

But… We also live in a body positive world where there is now, more than ever, a light being shone on mental health illnesses and eating disorders. There are CELEBRITIES who struggle with mental health illnesses and are verbal about their ongoing struggles. There are communities that you can join that are centered around positivity and spreading awareness of these things. Which is amazing.

Losing weight isn’t something that should be taken lightly. While it is easy to say, it’s very hard to do, because it’s all part of the emotional and mental process of being consistent with diet and exercise.When that doctor basically told me I was “overweight” for my height, I thought HOW?

I…

  • Go to the gym about 3 or 4 days a week, as my schedule permits
  •  do loads of cardio followed by lifting weights
  • When I eat out, I try to eat healthier alternatives
  • But at the same time, I don’t deprive myself of some good chocolate chip cookies, fraps, or other delightful snacks.
  • I try not to eat too much bread in one day

In my eyes, I think I am healthy. I don’t really pay attention too much to my weight because it does INCREASE and FLUCTUATE.

I am healthy and have come a long way from where I was since my freshman year of college.

I was dorming and I was at a school that was out-of-state. It was maybe my first time being away from home for a long period of time. Prior to me living on campus, I was taking medication that opened up my appetite and helped me get on a good sleeping pattern. The only problem was, it was my freshman year and the freshman 15 was in full swing. Only I didn’t gain the freshman 15, I GAINED THE FRESHMAN 45!

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here I am with a public speaker that was at my school (March 2016).

Where I went to school, they practically fried anything AND everything they could get their hands on. Hey, it’s not their fault, they were trying to appeal to the mainstream college student.

But I would soon realize that losing weight was a hard and grueling thing for me to overcome. I realized that it wasn’t as easy as it was back in high school, where I could scarf down fries for lunch and then head to my gym class to burn it off.

I found out that I had an anxiety to eat, whenever,  wherever. In order to combat it, I had to internalize 3 questions…

  • Was I actually hungry?
  • Was I bored?
  • What is a healthier alternative to what I’m craving?

Once I got that under control and was able to rationalize my eating habits, I was able to schedule and work going to the gym AROUND my schedule.

To up my self-esteem a bit, I learned some yoga/meditation and booked a photo shoot with really good photographer and friend. (I’ll put the link to her work at the bottom of the post!)

Granted, I am not a perfect person. I fell victim to wanting to drop in weight every week, but sometimes my weight loss journey came with a lot of setbacks, which I learned is okay. Those setbacks were designed to motivate me further towards a healthier lifestyle, without constantly depriving myself of ice cream and cookies.

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here I am at a place called the Gorge in New Hampshire (September 2016).

Losing weight is more than just the appearance. It’s more about how you feel. If you don’t feel okay, then do something to change it. Work towards a healthier and happier you, without taking drastic measures to see where you fit. Working towards a healthier and happier you doesn’t necessarily mean lose or gain weight, it could just mean that you are working towards a better version of yourself, starting from what’s inside and being able to project how you feel about yourself, outwards.

You are enough.

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Fancy Dinner with some of my friends (January 2018)

For more of Lin’s work, check out her wix site Here!

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