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. 

IMG_8376

…And that’s not even all of them.

IMG_8442

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.

Image result for cartagena

Image result for cartagena at night

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.

IMG_8190

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,

cropped-img_2835-1.jpg

Advertisements

The Growth Mindset

Bear with me a bit guys, it’s been a while since I blogged! Before I begin, I’d like to ask a question…

So has anyone been at a crossroads with a relationship? Or maybe you decided that you needed to make a decision that would work best for you.

In any case, if any of you has gone through something like this, you know that making a decision isn’t always the easiest thing to do… especially when it involves making changes to your life.

Well, shit, life is full of difficult decisions. Sometimes, these decisions are so difficult that you have to realize what would work best for your life going forward, all in a short amount of time.

For the first time in my life, I’ve had to decide what I needed, in the long run and that proved to be difficult, because it meant deciding what was important to me: my well-being or staying in a relationship with a significant other. All in a matter of 72 hours.

I realize that there were many factors that ultimately led up to the break-up; one of them simply being that we have grown apart. In life, we are often caught by surprise when we realize that what we once wanted, like a career or personality traits in a person, isn’t what we want anymore. We go in different directions, because whether you like it or not, we are constantly changing.

We are not the same people we were a few days ago.

We’re not even the same people we were a week ago.

Growing apart doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. The way I see it is, growing apart gives you the opportunity to grow as an individual. It’s life’s way of giving you a chance to find out what you like, what you look for in a person, and what you want your next relationship to consist of, etc.

Another thing that contributed to this was that I was face-to-face with a situation that, quite frankly could’ve been avoided, made me realize that I had to make a decision (yes, the same decisions as mentioned above).

After careful thought and advice from some of my best friends, I chose me. I chose my well-being, the desire to become a better person for my family, and for myself.

IMG-5718

 

Within those 72 hours, I gained so much clarity about the relationship I was in and realized that we want different things.

 

Originally, this post was going to be fueled with anger and empowerment, but this was all before I had a chance to even talk with the person. By the time we talked about it, I finally got a chance to understand why the relationship didn’t work out, what could’ve been better, what we noticed in each other, how the relationship went, etc. It was actually a liberating experience because I never really had that. I’ve always had break-ups end in misunderstanding and hate… all for no real reasons.

If you didn’t know, I’m a communications major and for me, it’s very important to see what another person’s point of view is. Communication is all about listening. It is an essential component in all relationships and I think that if we spent more time talking face-to-face, we would eliminate a misunderstanding (more on that here). Through learning and seeing where each other was coming from, this proved to be one of the most polite break-ups I have ever had.

A part of growing up is deciding who can stay in your life. Part of what choosing myself entails is that my happiness and well-being need to come first.

Processed with VSCO with n3 preset

After a break up, I get that it is hard to stay strong, no matter how good of a relationship it was, and it is hard to find some motivation to practice some self-love habits. I’ve been taught to get up and dust myself off after a relationship has ended.

My word of advice: don’t ever stop taking care of yourself, don’t quit going to the gym. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, but just keep in mind that you’re still the shit and realize that things happen for a reason!

Along with self-love, I needed to be okay with losing this person. I get that there are some people who can be friends with their exes and that’s great for those people, but that isn’t me.

I can’t stay friends with my exes. Trust me, I’ve tried.

I saw that if I wanted to move on, I can’t really be in correspondence with the person. In the best interest for myself, I can’t do it or else it gets too messy.

I want to be with someone who is willing to take me out to different places, every weekend. I want someone who is consistent, always keeps me on my toes. I want someone who is open to learning about a new culture. I want someone who surprises me, because I love surprises. Someone who challenges me, whether it be intellectually or whatever, I want someone who is encouraging in the most positive way possible. I want someone who shares my values, goals, someone who respects me and above all is accepting of how absolutely crazy I am.

With all that being said, I am in no rush to get into a relationship. For the time being, I’m going to focus on myself, learn about myself and stay off Tinder. When I start up at my new university, it’ll be a completely different experience and will be one that I can immerse myself in.

The way I look at is, it’s a beginning. A new chapter in my life. I’m only 21 and this gives me time to meet other people, and I’m totally on board with that.

Sending love and light your way,

cropped-img_2835-1.jpg

 

P.S Follow my Instagram for more uplifting posts!

Staying Mindful

First off, I just want to say thank you so much to everyone for your kind words, advice, and overall encouragement for my last post. It really means a lot!

I’ve been so busy with school, applying to colleges, volunteering and yet somehow managing to have an active social life.

But in the midst of all of this, it’s so easy to feel like “ugh what’s the use”, “why do I keep trying?”.  I noticed that I was doing this a ton, in response to all the things I had to do or was straight up overwhelmed with. Last Friday, I felt like I just didn’t care at all, like my entire mood for the day was; I don’t feel like doing anything, I have nothing to do, I’m bored, and all I wanna do today is sleep. It was a feeling all too familiar to me. I was in a funk, under the cloud of my depression. So that day, I went out, got a pint of Ben & Jerry’s  and a little snack for movie night. That night, I ended up going out to see the new Black Panther movie with my little brother and best friend.

IMG_2143.jpg

Jamie and I out at the movies. (not pictured: my little brother, who refuses to have pictures taken)

It wasn’t bad at all, I had an amazing time laughing, enjoying the movie with my brother and Jamie. These were definitely things I needed to lift me out of the funk that I was in.

It wasn’t until later that night when I  was sitting on the kitchen table flipping through the latest issue of In Style Magazine, that I came across an article about film maker, producer, director, Ava DuVernay. In it, she talks about the amazing power of optimism. DuVernay grew up in the wrong side of town, but her parents? Two of the most happiest people on the planet! They helped shift her worldview to a more positive one.

Granted, it wasn’t like she was living her life through a rose colored lens, but rather she’s acknowledging the sole fact that there is a lot of bad things that go on in this world, she doesn’t allow that to be her primary mindset or allow it to make her think of the world differently.

After reading that, it really made me think… Do you ever just stop and think about how you are perceiving things?

I mean seriously, we live in a world that seems to make light of how unbelievably fucked our mindsets are.

Am I wrong?

As we’re increasingly plugging more and more into apps, electronics, our phones, we don’t realize the shift in our mindsets. It’s a gradual shift. Not to mention, the experiences that we have had in our lives, has contributed, in great part, and has led us to have either a negative or positive outlook on life.

But it’s also very important to note: We aren’t the things that we have done or haven’t done. More specifically, we are not our past.

Our past doesn’t and should never define us.

So in life when we are given experiences, people, places, and lessons, depending on the severity of how bad or how good the situations are, we plug into that mindset. Our mindsets shift almost everyday.

What comes with every experience is a different attitude of how we would perceive the next experience if something, similar or identical, were to happen again.

Did I lose you? haha.

I’m going to use an example that’s been used a lot.

Say there’s this really sweet guy. Guy meets girl. He realizes that they have a lot in common and a friendship begins. Somewhere along the way, he falls for said girl. HARD. So he’s buying her flowers, making her feel like a princess, just basically being an amazing guy. Guy finds out that girl doesn’t feel the same way. He feels hurt, like he wasted his time, money, and overall head space over this girl.  So he adapts his mindset to, “well, if I’ve been fucked over once, I don’t want to be fucked over twice. Let’s see how girls like it when I’m a fuck boy.”

Sound familiar?

Now, I’m not saying that all guys are like this, nor am I disregarding the fact that all girls are always going to fuck a guy over, but this happens. Regardless if it’s guys doing this to other guys, girls doing this to other girls, etc. It’s one of the many examples of how certain experiences in our lives alter the way we think about love or how we think about future events as a whole.

Sometimes, these experiences serve for the better, Sometimes they’re realistic (can be a good or a bad), or other times they’re experiences that take a while for us to realize if it was a bad thing or a good thing.

But what I’m getting at is this: you’re never really the same person twice. You’re always changing. Your goals, aspirations and everything else changes. They could be for the better or for the worse, but those are ultimately based on the decisions you have made in your life that have led you to where you are today.

You-are-under-QUOTE

Another thing I learned today was this: Often times, expectation and reality will never really meet at the same point at the same time. Very rarely do these two things come together and even if you think these two things have lined up (at one point or another), they may be off by a tiny bit.

Almost every goal that I’ve had in mind, I’ve either:

  • made them realistic

 or

  • changed them, modified them a bit, in terms of where I am now in my life.

I’ll give you an example!

So awhile back, I realized that I really wanted to pursue communications at school, come out with my bachelors in communication and then go on to art school where I could get my master’s of fine arts in Visual Arts and then work in the fashion magazine industry as a creative director or director of photography.

It wasn’t until I had to take a step back and sit down to talk with my parents about my future plans. That night, I was asked a ton of questions and learned a lot about myself.

Yes, I can have dreams, but there comes a point in my life that I needed to be realistic with them. When I had talked with my parents about my future, my dad told me that I can’t expect to end up in a position of power, when I, myself, haven’t even had the experience to begin with!

Now that’s the stuff that got me thinking, “well, if I’m undecided with what I wanted to do in the realm of art, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be” and it took me awhile to find exactly what it was that I really wanted to do.

From that moment on, I realized that I needed to make my goals realistic, but yet stay mindful of the fact that sometimes my career path may change.

We are often afraid of the future and afraid to stay mindful about the events that happen in our lives.

I genuinely believe that the more we stay mindful about the things we are working towards in the future, the more open we can be to what life throws at us. In time, we can diminish that fear of the unknown and not be tied down by our doubts and anxieties.

IMG_2805.jpg

“She is clothed in strength and dignity. She laughs without fear of the future”- proverbs 31:25

Have faith and stay mindful of the fact that everything will work out.

For more of my thoughts on the future and on expectations , check out these posts which talk more in detail about these ideas!

click on my affiliate link here!

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.

_DSC0586

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!

20160413_155854.jpg

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.

IMG-20160904-WA0007.jpg

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.

IMG_1811.jpg

Fancy Dinner with some of my friends (January 2018)

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

Knowing What You Want

So just recently, I got slapped

Not in the way you think though… I was slapped with the truth.

Alright, let me back track a bit… I had some time to kill before my next class and on some days, I’m on campus all day. I had remembered that I needed to see a college advisor to ask them something that I had noticed on my transcript. I paid more attention to this because I am graduating soon and will be transferring to another college. So I signed in and waited until the next counselor was available.

Boy, did I get more than what I was asking for.

Enter a no-bullshit counselor.

“And what is your name, young lady?”

“Karen”

I follow this counselor into their office. I set down my stuff and I asked them a question regarding my transcript, to which they answered with a simple solution and the next thing I was asked was where I was applying, what my major is, normal things that advisers ask. The conversation somehow lead to me talking about a study abroad opportunity that I wanted to do, along with many more opportunities that I have been given in just a week into the new year. What is in bold are the truths that I was slapped with.

“Oh so you think that *insert opportunity here* just popped out of thin air.”

I stared at them, they stared back at me. I’m so serious.When I first thought of receiving a unique opportunity, I honestly thought it that it came pretty much out of nowhere. However, I realized later that it was because of my academic achievement so far at this school. Furthermore, it was because I was affiliated with an honor society that grants opportunities like studying abroad and taking courses at very well-known institutions, among many other unique experiences that students can take advantage of.

“Look, you know what you want…”

They then tell me that while I am a communications major I can “win people over” with my words, but that I can’t fool them when it comes to body language. Which is fair because I noticed that in some things I talked about I got more animated when I explained what each opportunity was about. They noticed that I smiled when I talked about going to school in one area in particular… The New England area.

I love the area very much, I have gone in and around the area on multiple occasions and have fallen in love more each time.

If I went to school in this area, I could have better opportunities for jobs and unique experiences than local universities nearby. To me, I think taking advantage of applying to schools in the New England area would be well worth it. It’s a risk that I should take. If I have a chance to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, why should I wait? What was holding me back?

“… Articulate what you want, before someone gives you something they think you want.”

This right here was the mother of all slaps. I feel like each of the little quotes that I have in bold, have led to this big one right here. It’s almost as if I was running around with my head chopped off, looking for answers to my situation, when the answer was so simple and much closer than I had imagined.

Maybe some part of me knew exactly what to do, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. What that talk did to me was motivate me. It motivated me to become more assertive in the things that I wanted to do. Things that I shouldn’t even be putting on the back burner, like unique opportunities to study abroad!

More importantly, I learned that I shouldn’t take these things lightly. It is only a matter of time before I get handed something that someone else thinks would be great for me. Getting something that another person thinks I want, wouldn’t be as rewarding or worthwhile as the opportunity I have gotten through the honor society.

This counselor summed it all up by explaining to me that in order to get what I want, I have to be honest in what it is I want and that I have to make a transaction. When you’re out at a store, you can’t just pick up something, look at it, then put it back and have the nerve to say you made a transaction. In reality, did you really make that transaction? No.

So make that transaction! Pick up that opportunity, inquire about it, and take a leap of faith in knowing what you want!

After that day, I realized that I needed someone to tell me the honest and brutal truth. As wild and amazing as it sounds, I feel like the universe and God have come together and given me a nice thing called the truth. In life, we all deserve someone who will tell us what it is that we should hear and more importantly, to be pushed in the right direction.

Find what you want to do and articulate it, make it known what it is that you want to accomplish.

Much love and strength,

Karenn

Vibe a Little

Learn to Live

UptightPrettyGirl

Lifestyle and Fun

Alys Journals

mental health and lifestyle

UniquelyMe

Why be normal when you can be unique?

%d bloggers like this: