Monday, April 20, 2015

Growing up Catholic

"We have been crucified with Christ. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us."  Galatians 2:20

The music had stopped but I had not. I stood up on that church pew playing my air guitar swaying from side to side. I remember my mom giving me the side-eye in a failed attempt to discourage my dancing during mass. I guess since I was a kid I felt the rhythm of music flowing through me, if there was music playing I was dancing. As a young child I felt most connected to God through the hymns we would sing during mass.

My most memorable memory as a teenager was attending catholic youth conferences and to this day I credit those weekends for keeping me aware of God’s greatness. I remember being bored as a child and as teenager at church. Sometimes it was hard to keep my eyes open, even as I got older, which made me feel guilty. I think about my mom and her relationship with God and it’s a wonderful one and that’s exactly what I want for myself, but I never felt I could find that in the Catholic Church.

Every gesture and proclamation were second nature to me. I was just going through the motions. My words had no meaning behind them. I was just reciting what I had been taught from a very young age. I wasn't certain of much but I knew there was something more than what I was experiencing. I remember yearning to connect with God on a greater level, but I didn't know how.

 I couldn't identify myself as a catholic and if there was a time I felt it in my bones it was my senior year of high school and so my search began. The hardest part of making up my mind was knowing my family would have some reservations about my decision, as they should. What my mom and dad think will always matter and I will always take their opinion into account. However, this time my decision was made and I wasn't looking back.

I will never forget the moment one of my dearest friends of ten years now invited me to her church and after a week or so I felt at home. For the first time I was opening up my bible not because I had too, but because I wanted too. The stories from the bible were being applied to my life and things began to make sense. The almighty unreachable became available at arm’s length and my desire to better my relationship with him grew. I began to learn about his mercy, love and favor.  

I began to understand that I’m able and equipped because of him. It is him who breathes life into me every single day. It is him who calls me worthy. He loves me so much he refuses to leave me the same so day after day he changes my heart to be more like his. It is him who taught me to let go of things and people because his plan will always be a million times better than mine. It is him who gives me peace through whatever circumstance I may face. It is him who turns my mountains into valleys and it is because of him I can walk in victory.

It’s been five years since I started my journey and in these five years I've learned more about who God is in my life, then ever before. In this journey I've realized it’s not about religion, but rather our relationship with him. God wants us to seek him in every aspect of our lives. We can call on him to guide us through important life decisions as well as minuscule tasks such as what should I tackle first on my to-do list. It sounds silly but it’s so true.

 In him I’m set free and that’s concept I never really understood. I always thought, “How can I be free?” If I’m giving up the things I want do, but the truth is the closer you become to God and the more your relationship grows, the more he will change your heart, thus changing your desires.

I feel so incredibly humble to know who the man upstairs is and what he can in do in my life. I encourage you not stay somewhere because of tradition.  Don't stay because somewhere because of what your loved ones might think or say. I can proudly say that my parents support me 100% because they have seen my faith grow, and no they are not planning on joining me anytime soon, but they respect me for it. What I know for sure is that this is the most important relationship I've ever had and ever will have. In this relationship I will continue to invest in fearlessly and recklessly. 

Embrace the Journey.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Ruba Ahmad

Passionate Human Rights Activist.
Future Human Rights Lawyer.
Giver of Hope.
photo credit: Maria Al-Sadek

Hu-man Right
plural noun: human rights

a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person.

Human rights can at times be complex and difficult to understand because of the different layers they seem to be wrapped in. However, in speaking with Ruba Ahmad, who works for Action Aid which is in an organization that helps to educate people about their rights, I was able to see human rights through such an organic lens. If we get rid of the word human rights all together for just a brief moment and we think about it as just having a right and a responsibility, then we can picture this concept as a ripple effect.

Human rights not only guarantee a human being a right but they also come with responsibilities. Ahmad's job is to provide people with the appropriate building blocks that will enable them to become self aware of their rights. Action Aid is responsible for hosting workshops that dive into subject matter that deals with accountability, transparency and responsibility. Everyone present in these workshops is asked to come with an open mind so such dialogue can be discussed. In addition, these workshops encourage participants that the possibilities of learning from one another are monumental and important.

Ahmad, says traveling does come with its risks but what might intimidate her from time to time is exactly what inspires her to continue on with the plight. She wants to provide human rights with much more than just a voice but help give these social issues a back bone. She understands and feels that there is really no end product but rather a feel good feeling of empowerment that can be the catalyst for change.
As a Muslim woman she is able to find courage through prayer which she does five times a day. Ahmad, says what she remembers most are the faces of the people she meets along the way and it can be incredibly difficult to not bring their emotions back home. However, prayer allows her to not become disenchanted with what she sees on a day to day basis and gives her the strength to continue on  with her mission.  In her crusade for human rights 23-year-old Ahmad is doing exactly what she loves and aspires to make a series of splashes that hopes will one day become a title wave.


Monday, February 9, 2015

His love.

His love is overwhelming in a magnificent way. When I feel completely rattled- I know I can turn to him for more than a cup full of peace. One of my favorite things to do is to sit at a coffee shop and reflect on his love for me.

Often times I don't think people realize how much he loves us. Or the fact that we have already been called by him to do above and exceedingly more than we ever imagined possible. His love comes with no conditions. He loves us just as we are and we can come to him in whatever way.

He knows how many steps we will take forward and how many steps we will take back and still he will be there. Let him love you and don't you dare look back. It is his love that makes my mountains seem like a valley.

 If he has placed a desire in you... don't ignore it. Follow it and honor it and watch him make things happen for you. He has already equipped you but more importantly he believes in you whole heartedly.

Embrace the Journey.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

They call her Superwoman...

I love to workout. There is absolutely nothing that can de-stress and make me feel better about any situation instantly then the gym. On days when I feel like the universe and I are not on the same page, I workout. There is something about feeling your lungs burn and your sweat hitting the floor. It's definitely a sense of accomplishment but I also see it as a release of whatever is bothering me.

I'm a fitness junkie but don't worry I feel that I've found a balance. If I want some delicious dark chocolate with caramel... you bet I will have some and I promise you not one single bone in my body will feel guilty, moderation is key. If anyone ever wants to make my day... this is how.

I find myself immensely enthralled by the human body and how powerful the body can be if we treated it well. Does anyone else ever think about that? Our body’s ability to self-heal is astonishing and we can help it by eating better, exercising and sleeping as many hours as we can.

When I first started my fitness journey I met all kinds of people who were in different chapters of their very own fitness journey. In all honesty I was looking for a mentor, someone I could cling to for inspiration and motivation because I wasn't quite ready to fly on my own. The thought of lifting weights scared the living day lights out of me. I think I spent my sophomore year of college along with half of my junior year in constant prayer. I prayed that I would find a fitness community that was just as passionate about fitness and that would uplift me.

During my second semester of my junior year of college I found that and so much more. God over delivered and I couldn't be more thankful!

Meet my fitness inspiration...

   Christy Small- 7 months pregnant. She's a daughter,
wife and soon-to-be mother of 3! Baby E is on her way! 
Mrs. Small is 7 months pregnant and let me tell you about her tuck jumps. They are insane! She is definitely a one of a kind instructor. Her classes are full of energy regardless of how she is feeling but then again you would never know if she was having a bad day. I've seen this lady touch countless lives for the better. One of the things that I have truly enjoyed watching her do is give back fearlessly, freely and without hesitation. There’s this ora of light and strength around her that you can feel and see and she'll share it with you if you need it. Her resilience is beautiful.

Fitness is definitely a lifestyle for her and you can see this by how she lives her life. It's definitely not an option but a priority. As a mother of 3 it's important for her to be seen as strong and leading by example is how she is able to achieve this.

She's the first to tell you there is no magic pill, it's all about consistency and showing up every day. She believes helping others is her gift and she takes responsibility of it by paying it forward and being there for her friends, family and future instructors. Mrs. Small says it's important to have realistic gym goals but it's also okay to have unrealistic goals because they motivate us and create a vision of what the future could look like if we keep showing up.

Mrs. Small- Thank you for being a wonderful light and for never making excuses for yourself and encouraging me as well as others to do the same.

Embrace the Journey.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Número 23.

Twenty-three feels, oh so sweet. I have this indescribable feeling that 23 will be more than good to me. And that is a beautiful feeling to have.

I feel strong mentally, physically and spiritually. Perhaps, it's because I'm in a chapter of my life where I feel more comfortable in my shoes figuratively, of course. Post-college, I considered myself a rookie adult and for the first time in a long time I feel like I'm getting into the swing of things. Not to say things are constant but to say I'm getting use to unexpected changes and I'm learning to welcome them in.

I feel it in my bones that this year will be filled with adventure and opportunity. Lately, I've heard God speak so loudly to me in such a gentle way. He is causing all this ruckus in my heart but the kind that makes you feel like the world is at your finger tips. He keeps telling me to get up and keep showing up but more importantly to get ready. The last couple of months I've seen him close doors and open new ones so quickly and yet every single time he has left me with an immense peace in my heart and knowledge that he is making way for me.

I think all humans worry about where they are going and if the decisions they are making correlate with their short term or long term goals. Sometimes I find myself feeling a little bit paralyzed in my tracks and this usually happens when I begin to listen to world. But there is a remarkable shift when I begin to listen to him and no one else.

When I stand on God's promises and his truths I feel equipped and capable. His love and grace encourage me to keep pursuing what I love. He keeps introducing and reintroducing me to people who have either helped me or redirected me in some way or some form towards him. His ways are magical.

I can't wait to immerse myself and dive into things that make my soul happy.
  • Working-out
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • And interviewing people who have inspired me or motivated me in some way.  So if I ask you on a coffee date just know it is synonymous for an interview. This is your warning. (;  Be kind and say yes! I think you are the bees knees from the bottom of my corazón.
This year is my Michael Jordan year, numero 23. This year is my action year. This year is all about God and me.
Embrace the Journey.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The World is Waiting.

Sometimes the world seems so broken. I wonder how the world will be when I decide to have kids. To be honest, it frightens me and makes me not want to have kids. I feel the world nowadays has lost its touch when it comes to compassion, love, respect, and truly giving.

I think the biggest problem is people are always waiting. They are waiting to be loved. They are waiting to be heard. They are waiting to be respected. They are waiting to give. They are waiting to show compassion. They are waiting for healing. They are waiting to pass on the generosity.

I believe that's the root of the problem. We shouldn't wait. We should anticipate. We should be proactive and not reactive. We should just love, listen and give without waiting to be compensated.

We should show compassion not because someone has shown it to us but because we simply know how it feels to need that helping hand.

If there are two things my mom taught that I'll never forget are...

1. Just because you didn't make the mess doesn't mean you don't have to clean it up.

To be honest... this is the reason I re-rack people's weights and grab a clean tissue to pick up the dirty tissue someone used to clean up the elliptical before using it.

But the one thing that was so bizarre for me to witness growing up was seeing my mom's kindness to everyone. Whenever. Wherever.

And so she'd say...

2. Just because someone is mean/rude to you... it doesn't give you the right to treat them the way they treated you.

I'm glad my mom chose to be the woman she is. Her patience and her good-will are admirable and to be frank I think that is why God allowed me to keep her.

So if I ever have the opportunity to become a mom (which will be an honor in my humble opinion). I want to make dreamers out of them. I want them to advocate kindness in the most simplest of ways. I want my kids to talk to the lonely kid sitting at the lunch table. I want them to open the door for the elderly lady. I don't want them to wait for someone to start cleaning the mess before they feel compelled to help out.

I wish I could say I'm not guilty of waiting but I am. When I'm in a public place sometimes I catch myself asking what's their story? Are they in school? If not do they wish they could go to school? (Woah I'm lucky to have had that opportunity) I hope all is well at home.  Are her kids keeping in touch... if she has kids? What's his dream? I hope he has someone who makes him feel like a million bucks! I hope she has a great Monday.

So to the guy who is on his third cup of coffee reading that trilogy of a science book... I'm sorry but I'm sure you will ace that exam!

Embrace the Journey.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Flying Solo

“Oh my gosh why would you that?” 
“You sound bitter… (He’s like a brother so he gets away with way too much.)” 
“Are you serious?” 
“If you want me to go with you just ask me…”
 Above are the responses I have received from my family and friends when I tell them I'm planning a trip by myself. 
 My feelings have gone from excitement with a side of nervous to just plain doubtfulness. What if I am really crazy...? What 22-year-old goes on solo trips? This prompted me to think about what I do on a day to day basis.
Examples of my craziness/weirdness:
  1. I don't mind going to the movies by myself.
  2. I have gone to dinner at a semi nice restaurant and sat at the bar reading a good book.
  3. I love working out by myself.
  4. I signed up for a half-marathon and trained all on my. [It's next Sunday in Dallas. Wish me luck!(:]
I absolutely have an amazing group of friends who would join me in a heart-beat. I feel incredibly grateful and proud to call them my friends. But I'm the type of person that needs to be reminded that I am able and capable. Of what exactly? Of anything!
I feel in your twenties you should do things that scare the crap out of you but empower you and inspire you to be a better person. Confidence and self-esteem are like muscles that we must exercise. 
I feel that when you graduate college it is so incredibly easy to settle and stay in that comfortable job that pays the bills and allows you to have a decent life. But to be honest, I have a million and one dreams in my suitcase that terrify me and thrill me at the same time. Those dreams will require confidence, fearlessness, determination, fire, resilience and thick skin. 
So a question I ask myself often is how do I prevent myself from settling. How can I remind myself of the fire that is within? How can I remind myself that I only have one life?

How do I remind myself in the middle of all the chaos of being twenty-something not to store my suitcase away but to keep it open and by the door? How can I learn to silence all the voices even from the people I love the most and say my decision is enough. I'm not crazy or being unreasonable. 






p.s. Embrace the Journey.


p.p.s I'm so going!