Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Photos as of lately-

The above photos include folks that I love so very much and feel so privileged to spend even more time than usual with recently.  Especially Santa- every time I see him in my apartment, I feel that he is saying to me- 
"Here is looking at you, kid!"

I love the holiday season! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Finding a Rhythm- MY Rhythm

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a work retreat where we discussed how to meaningfully and intentionally work to achieve short and long term goals. We closed our time together to talk about finding one's rhythm.  What does this mean? Well, I am still figuring that out!

As many of those close to me are aware, I have had a tough few months finding/discerning my direction.  What is my vocation? Most importantly, how do I structure my life so I have boundaries?- So I can enjoy my work and then go home, and enjoy my family, friends, and hobbies.

This is something I have struggled with for most of my life- feeling that I don't do enough for my community and pushing my personal health and sanity aside.

I am learning though that I can't be the best person or professional when I am not a healthy person in all aspect- physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. As a result, I have decided personal goals are in order!

How do you balance your life?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Santa Cruz

One of my dearest friends is travelling to South America in a few.  I am so excited for her journey has she will learn so much, encounter so many, and grow personally and spiritually.

We are currently planning out a part of her trip to Santa Cruz. This is so emotional as she will be travelling to a place that I once wander in that lives in my heart and soul.  As I told her, a huge piece of my heart belongs/stayed  in that dusty city.  I feel a such an ache for it and often when I think or speak about it, there is a lump in my throat.  It was such a growing place and time for me and I connected deeply with so many people there.  I used to think the Creator would fill those gaps. I don't believe that anymore- I think those gaps make us even more human, more like Jesus like, and are intentionally created to help us remember, grow, and hope.

Back to my story, I called my daycare director/mentor from Bolivia, Yuneth. Yuneth and I were basically attached at the hip during my time there. She taught me so much professionally and personally. She is like the older sister I never had but always wished for.  Yuneth is excited that a friend of mine wants to come to the daycare, share some medical knowledge with the amazing staff, and then volunteer at a public clinic.

Among all of the planning talk, we updated each other on our lives, the lives of our friends, family, etc. She informed me that a mom of the daycare has now joined that team and is blossoming. This was one of my favorite parents to work with. I actually wrote about her in this entry from my Bolivia blog-

I remembered her as being young, determined, and so loving to her daughter  Her daughter was beautiful, sassy and a fighter.  This mom now works full time for the daycare, has separated from her husband who was consistently making poor choices, is taking care of her child to the fullest, and joined the church.

When I heard all of this, I nearly broke down in tears. It is incredible to see how the work continues and that people/communities can change positively.

Remember to always be an advocate for change.  To throw yourself into your work fully and to always have hope.  Always work towards an earth that reflects heaven. Matthew 6:10- Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

As of Lately-

Someone told me today that the key to a successful marriage is selflessness. I think that is probably true in every relationship. I pray that I may always continue to learn the art of selflessness and be open to those lessons.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reminders about Peace-

“Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous,
tranquil contribution of all
to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism.
Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty."

- Oscar Romero

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” 

-Henri Nouwen

“We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood,the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.” 

-Oscar Romero

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Belated Birthday Weekend

My parents came for the day on Saturday with Mike's hard lemonade in one hand, a birthday gift for Josh in the other, and a cake in between. It was a fun day filled with laughter (directed towards mami in the hibachi restaurant) and cake!

My parents also bought be a brand new camera for my birthday- something I have now wanted for quite some time. Thanks padres!

I have been exploring and playing with the camera quite a bit this weekend, and yes- Josh has been the subject of my obsession! But it has been fun exploring this device and I am also excited to figure out how to capture the little images of my life, and life with my beau :) 

Cheers to loved ones, a new week, the start of school for the little ones, and figuring out this new toy!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Stories are a powerful tool to convey a message.  And this is not only limited to the personal life, but it also relates in many professional settings. I am discovering more every day that stories is what captivates audiences and make them listen to the work that is happening in the community. Yes- in non-profit/education world we talk a lot about data, numbers, test scores, etc.  But sometimes, we forget to share the stories.

And this is not a new concept, although the way our society is structured and progressing, it has forced us to relearn the old ways.

I have always been interested in the indigenous cultures of the United States and other parts of the Americas.  And one of the most glorious aspects of their cultures that leaves me in awe is their oral memory/retelling of events. They would tell stories ranging from their creation, to life lessons, to passing on information. Although many folks would see this as flawed, I view it as an art form. An art form that is quickly diminishing in this secular, modern world.

Why are stories so powerful? Because it engages emotions, and at the end of the day- we are run by emotions. Emotions are what connects us to this earth, the Creator, our community, our families, ourselves-

We so quickly want to turn on the powerpoint, power up the smart board, whip out the iphone, but sometimes all we need is to sit back on the porch, kick back with tea/coffee, and share stories.

What story will you tell in the next few days?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Bolivia has been increasingly on my mind. I left such a large part of me there with all of the people who impacted me, but I also took much back with me.  It is what makes me whole and complete.  This love is what God created us experience.  And it is when I think about these people and experiences, do I truly feel start to understand the Creator.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Put it away, Portland!

What can I say about Portland other than it being it incredibly beautiful and inspiring city? As I mentioned to so many friends once I returned, everyone is so nice! I guess my shock heavily stems from the cynicism that the east coast as so beautifully cultivated for me. By the end of the week, we were all saying, "Put it away, Portland!" because it just didn't seem real.

There are two main reasons why Portland has become so endearing to me.  One is because for once, I felt like there were so many individuals like me there.  Yes, this is a very superficial observation as I was only there for six days.  But I guess what I mean is there the common community seemed to be conscious of things that I care deeply about such as nature, taking care of the earth, being kind to strangers, and drinking good beer! But seriously- there was a different, more laid back authentic feel to Portland. As a colleague astutely pointed out to me- I probably encountered a lot of "granolas" insinuation that I am one.  I am not going to deny it.

The other reason was that I was able to meet up in this beautiful town with some of the closest friends I will ever have.  The last time I saw Corrie and Allyn was two years ago, when we tearfully parted ways in Akron, PA after spending such emotionally intense and wonderful year together in Bolivia. I stayed in Lancaster and they flew back to their homes, Michigan and eventually Oregon. And when we reunited again in Portland, so much had changed in each of our lives but conversation picked up almost as if we had never parted.  You don't have the opportunity to have many friends like that in lifetime.  We can have deep discussion and light hearted conversation all within 10 minutes.  These are two women that I have deep respect for and love dearly and I  know we are going to be life long friends.

Corrie and Allyn- Are you ready for reunion 2013 in PA?! This time we are not going to allow two years to go by.

Life in Portland as we knew it (all photos taken by Allyn and Corrie)-

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

School year ends

We said goodbye to all of our students on last Thursday at program. They came into program the last day with their hair drenched, sun kissed faces, and sleepy eyes.  Pool day had worn them out!

So as a result, it was a quiet last day. They ate snack, watched movies (or slept during the movie),  ate dinner, and finished their movies.

It was bittersweet moment as many of the kids who departed that day would either be at a different elementary school next year or moving onto middle school. As I watched all of the kids leave with heir families, I remembered what I had said to one of the little first graders who had broken down in tears the day before because she is going to a different elementary school next year- "We are all on a journey and this is the next step for you in your journey! You will keep your friends here and make new friends at your new school."

And it is true.  I know that as I continue in my life journey, I will meet and encounter people who will help to shape who the Creator has destined for me to be. While at times it is bittersweet, it is what makes life meaningful and beautiful.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Morning

Breakfast on the porch with Ryan Adams on laptop. Shared this lovely meal with Josh (who also made most of it).

  • Eggs with onion and cilantro
  • Coffee
  • Fresh strawberries

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Although I haven't updated this is a while, in no way am I ditching this blog.  I have a pathetic excuse for not updating.  I am waiting out to get a new camera!  I want to post pictures and tell my stories that way, but until then, I can only express myself with words.

This school year is winding down and I just can't believe it. Where has the time gone?  I have learned so much since I first started in August and have gone through many transitions. All of them positive. I am excited for what I have yet to learn this coming year.

Until then, I am exciting to buckle down and make goals for both work and outside of work.

Here is my working list for the summer that don't relate to work-

  • Summer bike ride with Josh
  • Orioles game(s)
  • Long weekend in Baltimore
  • Summer party with friends on Plum
  • Attend at least one music even at Long's park
  • Visit friends in Portland
What do you have planned for the summer?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo! A significant date for many Chicanos in the United States and Mexicans, it is NOT Mexico's Independence Day which is actually celebrated on September16.  Cinco de Mayo is an important day for many because it was when Mexican troops defeated the prestigious French army in a two day battle, "La Batalla de Puebla." Although the Mexican army was subsequently defeated by the French, this date holds much significance because it united the people and inspired them with patriotism.  The most interesting part of this story for me is that much like today, the Mexican army was made up of mostly indigenous peoples.  That in itself is a post for anther day. ¡Viva La Raza!

So be safe celebrating tonight and remember the real reason for Cinco de Mayo!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Been a while

Finally, I have time to breathe and update!

It has been a whirlwind of two weeks with various projects and events happening.  I had to take some time off the blog and get tasks completed. Let's just say it has left my apartment and my health in a disarray but everything is on the mend.

I can't believe that it is the end of April.  Next month, I will be traveling to San Francisco, California for a conference and the following month to Portland, Oregon.  I am so excited!

I love to travel and not having ventured anyway since Bolivia has felt strange, so these two trips will be nice.

I hope to continue on projects around my home as well.  My friend and I are planning many painting projects and I hope to get a new camera soon so I can post pictures and the journey!

More to come this week!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Goals for Summer 2012

  • Learn how to cook one good meal that includes tofu (Rice and Noodles has the BEST fried tofu, so I know it can be done!)
  • Go to an Orioles game
  • Take a trip to Portland to see my two dearest friends- Allyn and Corrie
  • Maintain my plants in the garden (This week I am planting arugula, onions, and radishes)
  • Attend at least one First Thursday Latino event 
  • Take a weekend trip to Baltimore
  • Continue to attend church
List make me happy. Goals make me live with intention. I hope to add to it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hello, Summer!

It is not quite summer yet as the first day of spring is Tuesday, but it sure feels like the start of summer outside.  It was a delight walking to market this morning.  It was a bustling morning with a lot of action-

Tour bus parked on orange street informed me that market was for sure going to be packed. And it was. Not to mention that there is also a large convention in town as well.  There were musicians and dancers celebrating St. Patty's day performing right outside market.  There were also a lot of families and friends sitting on benches, on the ground, munching on local favorites and enjoying the sunshine.  

My landlord also told me that if I want to learn how to garden, that she would teach me!  It really was a beautiful day.

I want to start taking pictures of Lancaster, my home, and memories. Any suggestions for a camera? I need something not too expensive, easy to use, and that takes decent pictures.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Update on Meat Intake

I posted a few weeks ago how I am trying to cut back on my meat intake. My reasoning for this decision again are the following-

  1. I always thought the idea of eating an animal's flesh was strange. When I was younger, I would sometimes remember in mid-chew what I was eating and I would thoroughly gross myself out.  
  2. As I continue to learn how the meat industry manufactures their products, I am starting to feel more and more uncomfortable with buying their products. That leaves me with the only option of buying local and organic items. I support both buying organically and locally, but it does cost more which I need to be conscious of. And I said a couple posts back, organic does not always mean ethical.
  3. Lastly, it challenges me to try different dishes at restaurants and to cook differently at home. I would have never discovered how delicious chili is made with textured vegetable protein in place of ground turkey or beef! I hope to get this book someday - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman. 

That being said, I am not completely vegetarian by any means. Currently, I am only eating seafood, chicken and turkey. I have not eaten beef or pork for about two weeks now. I no longer buy meat to cook with at home. If I do go to a restaurant, I will usually review their vegetarian options first before seeing what chicken or turkey dishes they have.  And let me just say- many restaurants (especially chain restaurants) do not have diverse vegetarian options. And if they do, it tends to be not as tasty and skillfully prepared as their non-vegetarian options. 

So that is basically my update on this new venture. Because I have dramatically decreased on my meat intake, I am being more intentional about replacing those missing nutrients (i.e. protein, iron, etc.) with other food items such as beans, spinach, eggs, etc.

We will see where this journey takes me. Perhaps, I will eventually become a vegetarian. Right now, that is not my end goal.  My goal is just learning how to cook different meals and become more aware of how my food choices affect my body and my global community. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Latino Empowerment Project 2012

There were a couple reasons why I chose to live in Lancaster after my time abroad in Bolivia-
  1. Proximity to my lovely partner
Well, if I am being completely honest, that was my main and only reason.  The things you do for love after being abroad for a year! 

I had some friends in the Harrisburg/Lebanon area that I would be close to but I was fairly unfamiliar with Lancaster, PA. Despite this reality, I was excited to get to know the city and the culture.

I always knew somewhat that there is a large Latino community within Lancaster city but I wasn't fully aware of how prominently the culture is represented here. As my father puts it, "It is like little Puerto Rico here." But not only are there many Puerto Ricans that live in Lancaster, but also Mexicans, Central Americans, Dominicans, Cubans, and so on. And it would be ignorant of me to not make mention of the growing Nepali and Bhutanese population.  Lancaster is quite a diverse place for such a little city.  I also have to give a shout out to my hipster buddies who also populate the city!

Anyway, this is a place where I see myself staying and raising a family. I currently work within a community that reflects so much of my personal story and background.  And I hope to continue to work within that community.  

In order to be an effective leader, I am always looking for ways to continue informally educating myself by engaging with others from different backgrounds/perspectives, reading a book, or watching a documentary.  

Recently, I have the opportunity of being accepted into the Latino Empowerment Project of 2012 this spring.  There are eight sessions within this project where a small group of Latinos/Latinas will be meeting. The sessions start this Saturday and will occur every Saturday morning until April 21. We will be covering various topics of discussion while fulfilling the vision which is-

"While cultivating collaboration among Latinos, our vision is to inspire members to embrace their identity in developing habits of leadership so they can go forth in creating a platform for social change by engaging the broader community"

Not only I am exciting for my personal journey in what I will learn from these sessions, but also in networking and getting to know others from the community who have similar goals. 

I will definitely update on these sessions and on all that I am learning and exploring.  

Cheers to empowerment, leadership, and becoming an agent of change!

Friday, February 17, 2012

El se portó bien hoy!

Sometimes when I am frustrated with a project at work or stressing out about an upcoming deadline, I think about why I do the work I do- it is all for the kids! 

And then I start thinking about all of the cutest things kids say that often make me laugh hard so unexpectedly. One of my favorite kids in the program (I know- I shouldn't have favorites... but honestly,who doesn't?) is so comical.  Not only with what he says but his facial expressions that go along with it. 

He knows he is a comedy show-

One night when the kids were getting picked up after dinner, this particular student was sitting at his table right by the door. A mom had come in to pick up her two rambunctious sons.  This student stood up (mind you, he is only 6 years old), pointed at her son and with a really serious face said "El se portó bien hoy!" (Translation: He behaved well today!).  She just stared at him for a second and then started to laugh out loud. I think he might have tried to wink at her (although, I may just be thinking that in my head because it would have been hilarious). Anyway, it is the little events like that, that keeps you going when you forget why you do the work you do.

On another note- I got my modem and router this week in the mail so it is only a matter of time until I have internet at home again!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Meat (not) in my belly!

Over the last few weeks, I have been eating less and less meat.  This is an unintentional and intentional decision. Since coming back from Bolivia, I have become more interested in our eating habits as a society and how those decisions impact our quality of life, as United States citizen and worldly citizens. I also have never been a big meat person.

I don't claim to know much about the meat industry within the United States but what I do know is that much of the meat we consume come from unhealthy animals.  How does that affect us when we digest that food then?  Purchasing organic meat is an option, but more and more evidence is coming out recently that organic does not necessarily equal ethical or local.  Therefore, where does that leave us?

I will tell you! Supporting your local farmer.  Which means paying $10.99/lb at the local stand at market. Something this non-profit, community loving individual can't afford.  This leaves me with learning how to cook more vegetarian meals at home.

Now that being said, I have never been a huge fan of meat. It would gross me out when sandwiches or wraps would be packed with a mix of ham and turkey or just packed in general with deli meat. When I was younger, I would pick at my meat or sometimes not eat it at all during dinner and it used to drive my mom crazy! She could not believe that her Puerto Rican daughter preferred the rice, plantains, and bread over la carne!

The transition to becoming half vegetarian has been a fairly easy one. And in saying "half vegetarian,"  I decided for an indefinite amount of time, I will be making vegetarian meals only at home. I will not however limit myself when I go to restaurants and if I want a side of bacon with my breakfast, I will order that. All I want to do is limit my intake of meat and try to make more intentional decisions about my every day habits.

This new endeavor has challenged me to find creative ways to cook meals so that I continue to receive all of the necessary nutrients and to try new foods! It has been a journey and I hope to continue learn more about the topic and learn new recipes. Know any good books?

The following are a few sites that have been helpful in finding delicious recipes:

Do any of you have any good sites you like to frequent?

Thursday, January 26, 2012


At my weekly supervision with my coworkers today, our CEO walked into the room and made the remark "there is so much estrogen in this room." A scenario that is not too uncommon within the education, non-profit world. It started getting me thinking about how women often are the ones who carry forth the betterment of the future generations.  And I believe this to be the circumstance world wide. 

In the meeting, our CEO was giving us feedback that could have warranted an apology from us. But before anyone could do that, she took a moment to pause her thoughts and told us she didn't want anyone apologizing. But instead, she wanted us to take her feedback as a learning experience. She shared that women often apologize for the most mundane actions/mistakes and that we should never use the word "sorry" as reactionary mechanism. Something that I am so guilty of.

All women should strive to be the woman they want to be seen as, and not the woman that the world expects. As women, we need to be intentional about the language we use and the way we carry ourselves.  I know this is something I struggle with daily, but I continue to be inspired by all the strong women that surround me whether they are my co-worker, a family member, or a parent of one of my students.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Start of Plum Living

Growing up, plums were my favorite fruit. You can ask my mother and she might tell the following story... It happened when I was five. My mother, brother, and I were hanging out in our little condo while my father was working.  My brother was a newborn at the time.  Mom tells me that she is going to take a quick shower. She instructs me not to disturb my brother and to behave.  Apparently, I was pushing her along into the bathroom, assuring her that everything was going to be okay. She could sense I was up to something.  And that something was sneaking a plum out of the fridge (it was almost dinner time) and climbing onto the forbidden exercise bike.  My mom pokes her head out of the bathroom door and she sees me cycling away on the bike while eating my scrumptious plum without a care in the world. Noticing that she had caught me, I jumped off of the bike, ran into the kitchen, and threw my half eaten plum into the fridge. I ask my mom every time she tells the story, is it really that bad that me misbehaving at the age of five consisted of eating fruit and exercising?

As you can see, plums are significant to me. So it is fitting that now nineteen years later, I am sitting in my apartment on Plum Street and writing my first blog post on "Plum Living."

Expert bloggers say you should have a goal when one starts blogging. I don't have any goals in mind.  I just hope this to be a place to write my stories, thoughts and adventures. Nothing more and nothing less.