Starting off the year introducing myself to anyone out there that either doesn't know me or would like to get to know me better. I answer a few common questions asked of me as well as reasons why I started a channel.
Join me here and click on the video below. :)
As I film more and more, I am getting so much better at the editing and I'm finding out what does or doesn't work.
I’d love for you to like, share, and subscribe to my channel on this wonderful journey of mine. Let's hang out (and we can see my progression together) - HAHA!
Our Current Situation
Unless you've been living under a rock, our world is now facing a pandemic of a virus that is killing people in the thousands every single day. Our state governor recently issued a "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" mandate starting today at midnight. We are to practice "social distancing" by staying home unless we need to get essentials like food, gas, supplies, etc. On this note, please DO NOT buy more than you need. There are others out there - especially those in the medical field - that need it much more.
Because I work for a company that provides essential services to the public, our office is still open; however, our office workers (thankfully) have the ability to work from home. Again, another one of the many blessings in my life I am grateful for in this time of crisis.
With Negatives, come the Positives
It's only been a few days that I've been working from home and I'm seeing some positives already. Like other states, my kids' schools are shut down and, with the help of their teachers, I am doing my best to keep them up-to-date with their lessons. I've also added a special "life lessons" course where I teach them about "adulting" - things like cooking, cleaning as well as writing checks, current events, etc. Some may think it unnecessary but I feel like it's good random information to have.
This time at home has certainly brought us closer together and have definitely posed its challenges...sometimes, my patience wanes when trying to help the kids with their schoolwork (God Bless teachers and regular home-school parents) but we are learning to work as a team and I am forcing myself to do things slower. More home-cooked meals are being prepared so that we can eat healthier. The kids are well-fed and are seldom having packaged (mostly junk) foods. I've never been one to love cooking but I do find it sort of therapeutic after experiencing the (somewhat) mundane act of working from home. I am also tackling the messy pile of paperwork by my bed and organizing areas that badly need it. It's awesome! HAHA!
No one likes feeling blah nor do they fancy feeling like crap every day.
There were times I found myself with others who weren't really that great to be around; sometimes I'd find it hard to get out of (or deal with) troublesome situations; I was stressed out by multiple factors...whatever the reason, it was hard to get out of the mindset that I was having, yet again, a shit day.
Out of sheer observance of others I found to be optimistic, I thought to myself "how awesome it would be to think like them." Feeling inspired (and simply wanting to do something about my mental health), I've learned ways to get myself out of that funk. I'm not an expert but feeling crappy constantly literally breaks you down physically. My knees hurt, I was gaining weight, I had headaches...the list goes on!
In no particular order, here are (8) things I do to instantly feel good and get myself back on track emotionally. I truly hope that I can inspire some of you to try these things if you want to to feel your best whenever you're feeling a little (or a lot) down!
1) Get moving
Basically, you've got to exercise. Not only does it help you physically, it allows you to clear your mind. Do what you can to get yourself moving! Even if it's only 20-30 mins a day that you're dedicating yourself to exercising, it all adds up. Pretty soon it'll be routine and you will find it "off" if you skip a workout. For me, Zumba, dancing, the stair climber, and walking are where it's at. My husband plays ball - basketball and football - and also lifts weights or runs on the treadmill..
Find something you love so it doesn't feel like a chore - whether it's getting fresh air (hiking and jogging are good ones) or doing something to center your mind (maybe try swimming or yoga). Some people love to do something a little closer to home (gardening, home improvement, maybe even cleaning)! Whatever it is that you do to get your heart pumping, you'll be rest assured that you did something to naturally feel good.
2) Take some "me" time
To some it may seem selfish, but I think every single one of us could benefit from taking some time alone to recharge. Sometimes when we overexert ourselves, we become irritable, overwhelmed, and just really awful to be around. Trust me when I say you'll be doing everyone around you a favor by doing these things in order to get yourself in a good mood.
For me, it's going for a spa day by myself or even as simply as taking a nap. My best friend loves to go for a drive and may sometimes take a spontaneous road trip with his dog. There's also meditation or doing your own nails, for example. Do what you need to do to check YO - self before you wreck YO - self! ;-P
3) Treat yourself
I'm not saying this so that you go broke...I mean, many of us would love a new bag or shoes but there are ways to treat yourself without breaking the bank!
4) Do something you ENJOY!
Not only will you do something that peaks your interests, you'll feel enriched learning more about it and maybe even meet others with similar endeavors.
5) Make an Effort to Look your Best
6) Perform a Random Act of Kindness
It's true when they say you feel good helping your neighbor (or even a stranger)!
I, myself, have done several things...for example, I sometimes pay for a person's order who's waiting behind me at the drive-thru; I've genuinely complimented a stranger (seeing their eyes light up gives me complete joy and some have even told me I've made their day); or I've helped older people cross the street. Just the other day, we caught our kids on camera shoveling the snow in our cul-de-sac so that our neighbors could drive in and out easily (granted they didn't do the whole block but it was their efforts that made us proud).
It's the little things like this that spreads love, respect, and camaraderie in our communities...a few things that aren't as prevalent nowadays if I'm being honest.
7) Phone a Friend
One thing I fear may lose its appeal is actually talking to people without your eyes being plastered to your smart phones. It's a must to be able to connect with your friends and family on a personal level. Conversing with others is simply NOT the same as texting or direct messaging them. You'll be able to see their emotions (sorry, emojis don't cut it) and you're less likely to take their comments out of context.
Sure, I still text or DM my friends but we try and make it a point to meet for lunch, dinner, or drinks to catch up. We try not to use our phones in front of one another unless it's absolutely an emergency or we're taking food pics (hehe - come on now, we're still down with the times). Hanging with my friends helps me instantly feel good in knowing that I still have those connections with people I don't personally see every day.
8) Make your BED
I know this might sound corny but it's true! Upon waking up, I make sure to make our bed. Not only does it make me feel good but, for some reason, it makes me feel like I'm able to tackle the day ahead of me.
There have been a few times when I don't (I AM human!) and I notice a big difference. I come home and, if my bed is in disarray, I feel a little scatterbrained. It's all mental, sure, but just that one task as soon as I get up from bed, it seems to prepare me mentally.
I've had numerous challenging days and every time I fall back to any of these "feel-good" strategies, it never fails me.
I hope that you're able to use some of these tips to get yourself out of any funk! Sometimes we need it more often and that's completely okay - feeling good can be easily attainable and we shouldn't have to feel guilty about it.
New Year, new YOU, right?! Then there's that little voice in the back of your mind taunting you, pressuring you to go back to your old ways because that's what you know...that's how you're wired. Be honest, how many times have most of us tried to re-invent ourselves and are disappointed that we've reverted back to old habits? I am guilty of it!
I have achieved some goals I'm proud of (i.e, my makeup work getting published in a few beauty and fashion magazines, public speaking, losing 30 lbs, getting this blog up and running, etc.)! And with some of these achievements came losses (i.e. I gained back about 15 -20 lbs back of what I'd lost, I fell financially off-track, I accumulated a bunch of crap due to horrible spending habits, and so on).
It is something we all experience and it's a struggle. So, instead of putting the pressure on ourselves, why not call it New Year's GOALS instead of RESOLUTIONS? I thought back to behavior I practiced to achieve some goals in the past few years and came up with 5 tips I’m happy to share with you all...
Tip #1: Create a Vision Board
Sometimes when I want a thought or a dream to come to fruition, I'll create something visually to help keep me motivated and, in turn, work toward it.
You can have a physical board and cut out your favorite things from magazines and pin it up for constant inspiration or create online boards (as I did below) on Pinterest. A constant goal we had in the past few years was to remodel our 1979 home as steadily as possible and we achieved much of it. We constantly referred to boards to narrow down our styles and, of course, what to buy. Granted it took a lot of time to get what we wanted but most everything that we fixed up turned out beautifully and we are confident we will at least get one of the two rooms done in the near future.
To have a visual helps keep things fresh in your mind and will motivate you to work for what you want - whether it's saving up for a trip of a lifetime, losing that last 10 lbs, or maybe working towards getting the house of your dreams.
Tip #2: Set Attainable Goals
To set goals that aren't too far-fetched is much easier than setting something unrealistic. For example, saying you're going to take several trips in a year without the financial means to do so is pushing it. Sometimes people can say such things and hope it comes to fruition but if you're not doing anything to help bring you closer to what you want, then there isn't really much to say but "good luck."
Working on de-cluttering your home (for example) is achievable in many ways. Separating your piles into needs and wants, usable vs. unusable, etc. then taking care of them by donating, tossing, and so forth feels so good that you may be inspired to be more efficient in other aspects of your life.
Tip #3: Ease into It
To practice daily habits, I start off slowly until it becomes routine. As I mentioned in my last tip (setting attainable goals)...if I'm going to say my goal is to lose 20 lbs in a month, I might as well be ready to welcome it back and more. Now, this is a goal that can be attained in extreme conditions but is not advisable. If you were to say that you could lose a pound or two a week, then that's something that could easily be done.
You've heard that saying "slowly but surely"? Well, it's 100% true. Most things you want don't happen overnight - you earn what you want by hard work, consistency, and determination. There are times you may fall off-track but no biggie...like the late Aaliyah sang, "Dust yourself off and try again."
Tip #4: Hold Yourself Accountable
There's another saying I know to be very true - "outta sight, outta mind." Keeping track of your progress can certainly hold you accountable for whatever it is you need to improve. If you don't have or see anything to go off of, you'll naturally assume you're in the clear and there's nothing to really worry about.
There are a few things I do to hold myself accountable - work with some type of support system (i.e. spouse, friends, work colleagues, etc.); write down/enter any reminders (due dates) or lists in a daily planner or phone; keep spreadsheets or trackers of some sort (e.g. for weight loss or financial records); unsubscribe/delete anything that may lure me back to my old ways (say, fast food coupons); and so forth. Anything that I can see to remind me of where I'm at currently helps to keep me in check any time I am remotely close to falling off track.
Tip #5: Avoid Comparisons
Anything you see online or hear from television or direclty from other people...take it with a grain of salt. Not everything you see or hear is as it seems - there are those that seem to want to share everything (but really only sharing parts of it) and there are those that only share the good stuff and keep the bad stuff private. In all honesty, I tend to be the latter. EVERYBODY struggles with something and experience highs and lows in different stages of their lives. So might as well do things when you're good and ready. If any one has anything remotely negative to say about where you're at in life, just know it's their problem and not yours. Nothing you're doing is affecting them as profoundly as they're making it seem so do what you need to do and keep on.
Hopefully, my tips give you some motivation to achieve some of your 2019 goals and that you're doing it on YOUR own schedules. There are outside factors beyond your control (i.e. life struggles, social media, natural disasters, etc) that constantly happen but learning to work around them is key to staying on track. I'll be rooting for you!
~ XOXO, Mari
Coming up with the content of this entry, I was a little hesitant because I'm bound to offend someone (face it, you can't make everyone happy) with what I'm about to put out there - advice on child-rearing. Yes, I know I am NOT an expert but we certainly learned a few things in raising our 3 children. I must state that, every time I give parenting advice, it's because I'm being asked. I try not to give any unsolicited advice because I know what it feels like to be judged. Most people with children have good intentions and will do what they need to do to get by. For us, we've made (and will make) mistakes but we learn every day how to deal with our children's shenanigans - no matter how big or small.
I admit, I'm extremely flattered when people compliment my husband and I on our parenting skills because even though we question ourselves frequently we know that, somehow, we did something right. We're often asked how we raise our kids and the real answer is we don’t have a specific formula...we just learned along the years by trial & error and by observing other parenting styles we admire and try to put our own spin on it.
Honestly, we still struggle and no way will I be airing our "dirty laundry" online, but we have had our fair share of challenges which, I'm sure, will keep coming as long as our kids are living under our roof. We are, however, proud that our kids are growing up to be independent people. whereas both my husband and I struggled (in our different ways) when we were their age. What we're trying to avoid is inhibiting our children's development into maturation (hello, PETER PAN effect!). We want them to become capable adults who can do things on their own and not be afraid to get out there and take risks.
Before you proceed in reading this entry, I will state again that I am NOT an expert but I encourage you to stay and check out our tips on raising a self-sufficient child and, hopefully, our tips can help you with your children in some way...
1. Assigning Chores
Now I know what some of you may be thinking...we are too strict, we need to let them be children, etcetera..etcetera...
We fully believe that giving our youngsters chores gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership. I've had interactions with kids nowadays who say they literally do NOTHING and aren't expected to. This might be a recipe for disaster (okay that statement might be a little dramatic), but giving them nothing to do to contribute to the household could seriously affect them when they start living on their own.
We started assigning each of our children simple tasks when they were as young as 4 and gradually worked our way to more complex ones as they got older. Younger children can help in sorting dirty laundry by color OR pairing socks (to liven it up, sometimes we'd make a game out of it)! Older children can set up/clear the dinner table, put dishes away, sweep the floors (our 9-year-old daughter's an expert on this)! Teens can vacuum, wash the dishes, prep ingredients for meals, mow the lawn, etc.
We highly recommend chores for the kids. We feel like this will prep and motivate them to not only work hard, but to contribute to society in some way.
2. Let them work for what they want
In the past, if I brought work home from the office or if I needed help with a makeup gig, I'd have one of them act as one of my assistants. I might have them print, collate, and staple paperwork or I would have them help me in rinsing makeup brushes and sponges I've washed. Once they’re finished with their said task, they can rest easy knowing they've contributed to something and then enjoy the time they'll spend doing something they want by earning it.
3. Maintaining their OWN Rooms
People always tell us that kids yearn to be their own person. When they're little, they are so proud when told they're acting like a "big" boy or girl. It gets more challenging as they grow, of course. When they're teenagers, they want to be seen as adults and often act like they know everything. To get with the program, we give our kids the freedom to each handle their own rooms...after all, it is their own personal space. With our kids, we let them choose their rooms and collaborate with us on their decor (this includes any special requests (i.e. TV, video game console, computer, etc.)
We then agree that, in order for them to keep what they want in their room, they'd need to maintain it as best as possible. I'm not going to lie...their rooms aren't always pristine (and we don't expect them to be). However, if they don't try to upkeep their spaces, we take something away. One of our kids is really good at it, one is so-so, and one needs major improvement. HAHA
As long as we give them some responsibility in their own rooms, we feel that they’ll take pride in taking care of their own household when they’re grown. This is just our theory - and we could very well be wrong - but we're sure we’ll find out in the future!
4. Letting them Fight their OWN Battles
As parents, we have that innate desire to always protect our kids from everything bad out there. I was definitely that way with my firstborn. However, with each kid born thereafter, we pulled away for a bit. We realized that arguments are normal. Jerks are everywhere, Unfortunate things happen. If we're always there to save our kids, what good will that do them when they're out in the real world? Kids need to learn how to resolve conflicts on their own - we don’t want them to be pushovers or accepting of aggressive behavior. As parents, we can advise them as best as we can and teach them the difference between right and wrong. Accept that they will come across trials and tribulations along the way and that they will be able to deal with issues. It's okay - our kids are resilient and they'll be experts in bouncing back from less than pleasant situations in the future.
Of course, if you see them struggle, and I mean REALLY struggle (there's a bullying situation in your hands, for example), then, by all means, it's okay to step in because a little back up is needed once in a while. In other situations, try and leave them be.
5. Activities are a MUST
At some point in their lives, they're going to be dealing with people on a professional level. We enroll them in various activities, encourage them to sign up for clubs or volunteer work, sign them up for sports, or have them experience real work situations. For this last one, a couple of my kids have done some modeling (so, yes, they're actually working) but for "work" you can have them help you with office-type tasks simulating real work settings (see tip #2).
As a youngster, I wasn't encouraged to talk to adults because I was "just a kid." This put a damper in my confidence! Now that I'm an adult, I still often find myself second-guessing my decisions. I definitely don't want that for my kids.
We feel that dealing with people in a team setting or the general public will give our kids a sense of camaraderie, learn to take direction, experience working with different temperaments, develop personal enrichment, and gain confidence in their abilities.
6. Ask Questions
My husband and I will often encourage them to ask questions and not to be afraid to do so. Being timid asking questions will never get you closer to the answer so might as well ask! We tell them it's OK not knowing everything and there are no stupid questions. Besides if someone treats you like you're stupid, it's more about them most of the time! Like I said, there are jerks out there.
Here is a quick and cute story...when my 16 year old was about 7, we had just crossed over from Canada and did some shopping at a premium outlet here in Washington not too far from the border. We gave him money to wait in line to buy shoes and when it was his turn, he casually asked the cashier if they took American money. Of course the cashier laughed and told the other cashiers...they thought it was the cutest thing. My son, however, was oblivious and he didn't even hesitate to ask when most would think it was a "stupid" question!
Heck we all say/ask seemingly stupid things but this is how we learn - think of our children and their innocence - any questions they have is critical to their development and the last thing they need is someone making them feel like idiots. As a former boss of mine once said, "People don’t know what they don’t know." Sometimes it’s best to look foolish (by inquiring) than act like a know-it-all. Asking questions teaches our kids initiative and resourcefulness by being proactive in learning what they can to get by. As I always say, we never stop learning!
7. Expose them to All types of People
I'm not sure how to word this tip, but it's what I think best describes what I'm trying to convey. I see so many cliques and exclusivity that it's a little unfortunate. My husband and I absolutely hate when people are left out. We tell the kids to treat everyone the same, no matter what. Most of us live in a diversified world - people of various backgrounds (culturally, economically, etc.). After all, we are each unique and these traits make us who we are. We encourage our children to mingle with others "different" from them. By doing so, they understand each other's world, will expand their communication abilities, strengthen their interaction skills, and will likely become more open-minded adults. Our kids, for example, formed some strong bonds to a good bunch of kids. It makes us proud how diversified our children's group of friends are.
In their adult lives, it is a given they’ll deal with various types of people. To have people skills will strengthen their independence all the more by giving them the confidence they need to interact with just about anyone. My husband and I are blessed that we can deal with all types of people (though, it took us time to do so) and we only hope that our kids will be the same as they grow into adulthood.
8. Give them a Sense of Freedom
I've heard it all from people...we are TOO strict...we are TOO lenient. Again it's impossible to please everyone so you do what's best for you and your family!!
This last tip can either be seen as a hard YAY or a hard NAY. I admit, this is something I grapple with but getting better at. We are somewhere in between as far as how lenient and how strict we are when it comes to our children's freedom. Before letting our kids go out with their friends (or by even just going out by themselves), we often talk to them about how our actions affect how others see us, making first impressions, dealing with the consequences of their decisions, being considerate of other people, etc. Of course, our kids are hearing what we’re saying but the real test is whether they’ll actually take our advice...how will they behave when we're not there? Sometimes their peers' words take precedence over ours. Lots to worry about but learning to trust them takes time. Luckily, we've heard mostly good things but there were some incidences where it wasn't all too great and, with that, came some consequences. We can only hope our kids learn from any mistakes they’ve made, correct their situation, and avoid a similar one from happening again.
Don't get me wrong - we still give our kids a curfew and expect them to call us if plans change. There are still people who think we let them do whatever they want but they couldn't be more wrong. We do weigh things out on a case-by-case basis and, most of the time, it's harmless. So, yes, we do say "no" when we feel it inappropriate.
Like I said before, I still have trouble letting go but I know it's something us parents have to do. I would rather let them go out and be open to talking with us than sneak around (like I did - shhhh) and have them lie to us.
Always remember to talk with your kids...some people tend to avoid this because they think kids aren't able to understand - this mentality is far from the truth! News flash - children are a lot smarter than you think! As we've experienced over the years, kids will push your buttons by crossing boundaries or they will try to appease their peers by doing something stupid...the only thing we can really do is continue to guide them, hope they learn from their mistakes, hope that our words will resonate with them and that they make good decisions.
I'm not going to sit here and act like we have perfect kids - because we don't - but I will say they are aware of themselves and are confident in the sense that they know they are self-reliant and can mingle with just about anyone. The relationships they’ve formed with others seems pretty solid - at least for the most part. They do things around the house sometimes without being told. They can fix their own meals by cooking rice or a simple breakfast if my husband and I won't be able to.
We have started to come to the point where we don't think they'll be relying on a woman or man to pick up after them. Everything will be okay and the hard job we have as parents will be well worth it.
The Awkward Years
Oh my...I can't believe I’m actually going to share some of these but it's a good reminder for me to see the transition I went through over the years and WHOA...what a difference.
I was one of those "ugly ducklings"...I wasn't cute in a traditional sense and definitely annoying. Every time I was around the elders in my family, I managed to irritate a couple of the adults. Even as a child, I felt grown-ups favored my brother and cousins over me because they were considered cuter.
A Birthday to Remember
Some of you that follow me on social medial have seen my photos/videos/snaps, which, prompted many to ask, "Why Greece?" Well, for one, I've wanted to go since I was a teenager. Photos I'd see on postcards as a teen took my breath away. The views, the beautiful white buildings, and sunsets really fascinated me and I’d think to myself, "I'm going there one day." I waited over 20 years but it was worth the wait (see the photos I took below).
By the way, I’ll be writing separate pieces following this blog - a more, in-depth look to our trip and one centered on our hotel so be on the lookout for those announcements!
Just a little tangent...something I noticed of the people of Greece was how very sweet they were under their gruff exterior and it reminded me a lot of my late grandfather. It was the way he spoke when he was still with us. The feeling in Greece was somewhat bittersweet for me as it made me feel closer to him in some way.
Also, when the Greek speak English, it sounds like a cross between Filipino and Italian accents so I could understand a lot of what they were saying - it almost made me feel like I was home! Meanwhile, my husband was nodding his head, pretending he knew what was being said. LOL!
The best place to lay out is on the top deck, in front of the steering wheel - you get the best view...
I really didn't expect much but it was probably the best day spent and it was surprising how much fun it was (though, it could've been just the group we were with)!
Being by the water felt so relaxing...it was PERFECT! We met some really awesome people (my husband and I got our palms read by one of the women in our group and it was so scary-cool how spot-on she was); we ate some really great, fresh food cooked on-board by the crew; I got to swim in the ocean with a few of the others who helped me feel comfortable in the water; and we ended the day with a little dance party until we docked. Other yachts we passed were feeling our vibe!
Needless to say this trip was a great start to turning the BIG 4-0. Some people think 40 is the start of old age. I think, if you allow your mind to think that way, then you're asking for it...I’m not sure how but your body seems to break down slowly. I’ve seen the difference between people who seem to give up and make all sorts of excuses & people who decide to live a life they love and their zest for adventure is inspiring. Of course I’m going to choose to live like the latter!
Getting older is not bad at all and I really do think it’s how one looks at things. Everything you see on the outside shows how you've lived - wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared, and scars mean you went through some tough shit but came back up! LOL...On the inside, you are wiser and start to accept yourself for who you are and whatever imperfections you may have. You have no time for all the BS and petty people around you.
It's a time to celebrate a new chapter of your life!
I was diagnosed at one point in my life with clinical depression along with PTSD (aka Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) for reasons I won’t go into and I was too embarrassed to talk about my feelings with my friends and family. For a long time, I'd wallow in my negative thoughts...I was insecure and had low self-esteem. Walking around, it literally felt like I had a constant dark cloud looming over me. Sometimes I was told that my problems weren’t exactly something I should concern others with. Once I realized I needed help, I did something about it and began my healing process. Eventually, it got better and I learned a few things along the way.
I’m NO mental health professional but the 7 tips below are ways that have helped me either by self-help books, therapy, or just from my own discovery...
1) Remove yourself from Negative surroundings (i.e. people, situations, etc.)
Unfortunately, it's easy to fall into any type of unpleasant situation - you find yourself at the wrong place; you're with people who exude sour vibes; or something bad is happening in your life that you feel won't get any better.
I've been known to act impulsively but have come to learn that there are usually consequences if I don't weigh out my options. Generally, you'd want to think about whether what you're going to do will cause any major trouble for you. Basically, don't do anything stupid or something you'd regret. If you're feeling pressure, distract yourself with some other activity or excuse yourself from the situation.
Nowadays, I'll try and make a conscious effort and see how something or someone can affect me. Will I benefit from said situation/person? Whether it’s a toxic work environment, relationship, etc., it’s best to do something about it by walking away and never looking back. Under these circumstances, if you choose to go in deeper, you'll only get yourself into a position that may be difficult to get out of.
2) Do something that makes you feel ALIVE
In my case, it's makeovers (specifically makeup and interiors) and travel. Whether you love to read, geek out on certain hobbies, partake in outdoor sports, or working out - keep doing it! No matter who we are (even the Negative Nancy's of the world), there's always something that brings each of us joy. Anything that makes us feel good about ourselves, about life, what have you...will continue to spread a positive energy within us. When we feel great, it shows, and we become naturally pleasant to be around.
There's a reason you're passionate about certain things in your life - it gets your heart pumping, you're giddy, and the best part?? You'll find others that share your same passions, which, brings me to number 3...
3) Surround yourself with People you Admire
Whether you surround yourself with people you admire professionally or on a personal level, make sure that you make it a habit. When you seek peers who make everything or everyone around them light up, try and befriend them. You will often find yourself inspired and, simply...well...happy.
I am one of the shyest (maybe quietest) people you will ever meet - so I’m not the most social person - but put me in a room with people who have the same interests as me or even do/say things that inspire me will get me motivated to better myself by having more confidence and courage to get what I want out of life. Too many times it's a competition between people and not enough of us empower one another.
4) Stop Trying to be Someone you’re NOT
I still struggle with this but it gets better with time. I used to always want to please people even though I didn't feel right about something. There's nothing necessarily wrong about appeasing others but sometimes it's not worth it if it makes you feel crummy.
Often times, I’d agree with others even though I really didn't care too much on the subject; I'd stay at a job I didn't really enjoy because I didn't want to let my colleagues down; and I'd often listen to unsolicited advice so that I'd look like I was making the "right choice." It doesn't make any sense why a person would subject themselves to that but it happens.
I've learned that, no matter what I do, someone will always talk smack (to my face or behind my back) and I'd only just stress myself out if I kept up a facade. There's always a tactful way to disagree with someone or something. Sure you'll get people who you might make angry but it's not your problem...it's theirs. You can't make everyone happy so you might as well do what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
5) Think intentionally and have faith
My "cousin" from Colombia told me she practiced intentional thinking and was amazed by what this form of thinking brought to her life. When one door closed in her life, another amazing opportunity showed up. It inspired me in so many ways (thanks, Maria!). She mentioned that, basically, intention isn't something you do but is part of something bigger...an energy in the world around us. When you have a purpose or desire, you'll think of ways to achieve something greater.
Also, have you noticed negative people tend to attract the not-so-great things in life? "Friends" who aren't loyal, things seem to go wrong on the daily, they get sick, etc. When I was in my negative funk, my judgment was clouded and all I attracted was nothing but bad luck. I couldn't shake it...couldn't figure out what it was. When I got the help I needed and I slowly started to get better, I changed my way of thinking (willing myself to obtain a life I wanted)...hung out with people who did things I admired...and the results were ASTOUNDING. Almost immediately did I notice a difference. Whatever this phenomena is called - thinking positively and having faith - it's worth a try.
6) Refrain from using negative statements
Ever hear people say "I can't..."; "I never..."; "It's too hard... " etc? Yes, I hear it all the time and I'm afraid to say that I am sometimes guilty of it (especially when I'm having a particularly trying day).
Instead of using negative words or affirmations...turn these downers into something positive. We constantly learn from situations in order to grow. The hardships we endure will only make us stronger and, maybe, wiser. It prepares us for any storms along the way, if you will. Don't worry about how fast you're moving...if it seems like you're making slow progress, it's okay, because you're probably 2-3 steps ahead than someone else who isn't doing anything about their circumstances.
We're all capable of changing the way we view things. There really are no excuses if you think about it. The only people who are in the way of what you can achieve is yourself (and, ok, maybe negative people you should really steer clear from - see tip #1). Use these experiences to fuel your efforts and to show yourself and the others what you're really made of! You'll be surprised at how BAD ASS you could be.
7) Accept that hard times will lead you to something greater
It’s always easier to quit. There’s no question about that. There have been several times where I was faced with a major dilemma or that times were tough (especially financially). I'll tell you that when I first moved out with a husband and baby, it's not like we were rolling in dough. There was no way I was looking back and we willed ourselves for a better life, worked HARD at it, and things literally got better. Seeing how young we were, I could've left them (which, I'd never do...I'm just thinking worse case scenario) OR even go our separate ways, put our baby up for adoption, and continue to live with our parents.
The point is...DON'T GIVE UP. Sure you can take a step back to assess or recharge from something. If you give up, however, and you find that you're kicking yourself and asking why you quit then you'll truly regret your choice. Now this isn't to say you should NEVER give ANYTHING up. Do what your gut tells you. If it's affecting you personally in some form or another to the point where it's detrimental, then, yeah...you might want to rethink your situation.
So, here it is...my 7 tips to staying positive. Don't get me wrong, I still have struggles with this kind of thinking. I’m not perfect and I don’t want people to feel like I think I am. I do, however, want to put forth all the good things in my life that have brought me joy.
I hear constantly that people who post on social media are just fooling people or being "fake." Personally I think it’s great that these people want to share what brings them joy (especially when it's in line with what you're into). Trying to spread a bit of good never hurt anyone.
And, really, if you find things like that bothersome, it only takes one click to exit.
~ XOXO, Mari
On my journey to self-discovery, you may know that I left my desk job in the Fall of 2017. Since then, I have experienced all kinds of emotions...from lows - the anxiety was so bad I had nightmares almost every night - to highs; for example, getting signed on with a local production company that contracts freelance makeup artists (such as myself) to work on jobs for huge companies like Microsoft and Amazon.
It’s been scary not knowing when I’d get a gig or how much money I’d need to set aside for my bills and groceries for the family each week (I have 3 kids, after all). Yet, I somehow was able to pull through with a combination of hustling for my next makeup gig, referrals by my fabulous friends in the industry, my husband’s support and, sometimes, pure luck.
Living the freelance life has certainly brought forth new challenges for me...not only for pushing myself to network (despite my fears of rejection) but for dealing with being, in a sense, a stay-at-home Mom. Let me tell you, I (now) have a profound sense how being a mother is truly a full-time job and puts multi-tasking at a whole other level. How I did it before with a full-time job as well as a side hustle, I don’t think I will ever have any idea.
Projects I’ve been pitched have fell through, yet I refuse to let that bring me down. I've been contacted by people wanting to work with me only to find that most want a free makeover or design consultation OR even provide my services at a deep discount...hmm, If only these people knew how much my products cost (especially for makeup), they'd understand why I charge what I charge...$20 for a full face (with lashes) isn't going to cut it! Nor will I offer my design services for free (because any amount of work I put into a design rendering can be whipped up in 30 minutes because it's pretty much mindless...riiiiiggghttt).
After graduating college in 2010 with a BFA in Interior Design, I didn’t have the hottest luck when applying for jobs. Since then, I’ve had some interior design projects - some good experiences and, unfortunately, some bad. I began to think whether my heart was still in it for design. Frankly, I didn’t have the confidence that I needed to feel good about any of my projects.
With this said, I am deciding to temporarily take a step back from makeup artistry and tackle what I initially sought out to do: Interior Design. Part of the reason I quit my desk job was to pursue a CREATIVE CAREER - I know I’m good at makeup and am comfortable with what I can do (but, of course, I know I will always have more to learn). With interior design, I KNOW I need to learn all that I can...with the new trends, tricks of the trade, and new design software out there, I am behind in many ways.
I haven’t written off makeup completely but I will be selective with any upcoming projects and I will still honor any commitments I’ve made for the rest of the year. Any clients that are reading this...remember, I still got you!!
So, here I go again, off to another adventure as I have an opportunity to do so. If I find that I still have my heart in it, then I'll be glad that I made the jump when I did and won't have any regrets. If I don't, then I will have a clearer sense about where I should be.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve been intrigued with my ethnicity. I’m Filipina but have been told by family members that I have Chinese and Spanish ancestry. Still, I didn't believe it. Essentially, most Filipinos will tell you they have Chinese and Spanish descent, which, led me to believe that being Filipino meant not being a pure blood.
I remember working on a family tree at school and I could only go as far back as my Great Grandparents. My dad told me they didn't have records like that in the Philippines as it wasn't really an important thing to most. Needless to say I was disappointed.
I used to look at old photos of my family. My dad as a teenager, especially, looked part African. He had really curly, hair and has a caramel-colored skintone. He looked like this little black boy I once went to school with. My maternal grandma had long hair but extra course and curly and very light-skinned. She didn't look very "filipina" to me.
Filipinos have these distinct features that I didn't necessarily have. I had course and very curly hair, my body type was a bit on the muscular side, and I have these big, cherry tomato eyes while the other girls had thick, straight hair with a thin build, and almond-shaped eyes. I never quite fit in with the other filipina girls when I was younger and was once told by another "you're not a true filipino - you're fake." This hurt me in ways you may not imagine and I was socially awkward around the others.
I actually bought my kit back in mid 2017 but just NOW decided to go for it. A former co-worker told me that she had hers done and was really surprised at her results. I thought, "HOW COOL?! I've always wanted to know." One of my oldest friends decided to do it as well and found things about her DNA that she never would have suspected. A designer I worked with told me her boyfriend's results and then I thought...hmmm this seems like a sign since everyone seems to be doing it and I got to thinking...what the hey. LET'S DO THIS.
My husband was annoyed that I wanted to know so bad - he'd always say "Why don't you just accept you're Filipino?” I think I really just wanted an answer for myself...where I came from. You'd never know but I struggled with checking the box "Asian," "Pacific Islander," "Hispanic," or "Other." HAHA
The kit is pretty simple - it comes with a sample tube (to collect your saliva/DNA), a pouch to place your sample, and a box with the address to the lab.
My brothers were anticipating the day I'd turn in my DNA sample because, whatever I'd get, they'd be the same. However, I've read that one sibling may get more of one ethnicity than the other. If you saw my brothers and I - we look totally different from one another. The only thing you can probably tell that are similar between us is the shape of our legs. Weird, I know.
One brother looks islander, one looks the most Filipino out of the three of us, while I thought I looked mixed with some African or maybe Hispanic.
To activate your kit, take note of your activation code (found on the tube) and register online. This is where you will be able to read up on your DNA results and find a little more on your background.
Taking the DNA Sample
Providing the sample was a bit off-putting to me. I absolutely get turned off when I see or hear people "hawk a loogie." The fact that I had to provide a significant amount of saliva kind of put me a little on edge. There’s a little funnel to attach to the tube to catch your saliva so I tried to be extra careful so as not to make a mess. You spit up to the indicator line on the tube.
Once you provide the sample, you place the cap back onto the tube and there's a liquid to (I think) preserve the saliva. Once the cap is tightened, the liquid will be released into the tube and mix with the sample. You then place the tube into the pouch, then secure it inside the box and send it off.
Next is when the waiting process begins (about 6-8 weeks or more depending on the lab submittals).
I received an email notification of my results and was not expecting the news (see my results in the photo below)...
I should have known! I looked into my Polynesian heritage, which is primarily Samoan and Tongan. Not only was that a surprise but the fact that there is a significant amount of it in my DNA. In high school, many of my Polynesian classmates asked if I was Samoan and when I'd tell them I was Filipina, they weren't buying it. LOL. The Guamanian side of me was also a pleasant surprise so I’m looking forward to learning about that as well!
When I read more online, I saw that Ancestry matches you up with possible family members - those that range from fair to very high possibilities. I have yet to contact some of these people. In the meantime, I am going to soak in what I can learn. I'm debating trying other DNA kits to see if they're similar but I'll set that aside for some other time.
My son, Ashton, is now intrigued to find out more about his mix. He says his dad doesn't really look Vietnamese so he wants to find out soon. :-)
If you're interested in getting a kit, these run $99 online. If there's a special discount running, then even better!
~ XOXO, Mari
If you've read my "Meet my Fam" post from July 2017, you'll have read a brief rundown of how my husband and I met. If not, find it here meet-my-fam.html
We recently just celebrated our 16-year wedding anniversary (however, we've been together almost 22 years) and just flew back from our anniversary weekend celebration in none other than Vegas!
BTW, I will be writing an entry on our trip in the travel section of this blog...be on the lookout! :-)
Every year, we try and do something new to keep things fresh between us (because, let's face it, PARENTING IS A FULL TIME JOB). Now there's plenty of advice to keep a union fresh and a whole book could be written about it but this is what we do...
Usually, we'd travel to places we've never been or revisit a place that we hold dear to our hearts. Last year, we took a very scenic road trip to Vancouver Island, staying the weekend at a remote villa; the year before, we stayed at a lodge east of Seattle, by the wineries; and so on. This is a tradition we started when we exchanged vows back in 2002.
There have been moments we weren't able to travel because of obligations, so we'd try and make it a point to carve out some time to go and have an intimate dinner at some fancy restaurant.
NOTE: Some of the photos below contain links so you're able to get redirected to the places we visited.
Whatever significant occasion you're both celebrating, we recommend NOT bringing your children (especially if they're too young to know better) to your romantic evening...
Our 1st year of marriage, my husband cooked us a steak and lobster dinner and set it up picnic-style in our apartment dining room (we didn't have a dining set yet) and our (then) baby son was crawling over everything! He was supposed to be napping but didn't because of all the commotion going on in the kitchen. It's funny thinking about it now but I could see back then that hubs was bummed because he put all this thought into it. So, yeah, definitely NOT what he envisioned the night to be. LOL!
There was even one year we had all our kids join us for a dinner out and, although we don't mind having them around, we wouldn't do it again (nor would we recommend it to anyone) especially on our date nights! All evening there was bickering and attitudes firing off from one kid to another. Not exactly how we wanted to spend our time.
Keeping things new and exciting for us by having that time alone has helped us to grow together as a couple and has allowed us to communicate better - we'd discuss our lives or what new things we'd like to experience....but, for some reason, a major part of our talks are centered around the kids! Being "on the go" often times than not, it was sometimes difficult to just talk to one another. Dinnertime was mostly centered on our kids' day at school.
Now when I say "time alone" I mean TIME ALONE. Refrain from inviting other couples to join in on your rendezvous and don't even consider staying at a family member/friend's place wherever you're visiting! You want to be alone together to truly connect. I've known other couples who've said that it's exciting when other people are around. I'm curious to know, what is so bad about spending quality time with the person you agreed to share your life with that you rely on the company of others to make your togetherness more interesting?
Don't get me wrong, group dates are fun but should be done on occasion. If done often, there is sometimes the need to put up a facade when you're around others. It's important to my husband and I that we especially set aside special life events for us alone as a couple.
I’ve run into those who have been married to someone 10+ years and say they're too old and going on dates no longer matters because it's frivolous or a waste of money. One person seriously told me "well, she married me so I must still be doing something right." Now they're divorced. Uh huh.
Or, even "what will people think?!" So? What is there to be afraid of? Because, really, there'll always be haters out there. These are the people who aren't happy with themselves that they feel the need to criticize others. So do YOU, boo.
If you have the means to do so...take a trip, eat a fancy dinner, go to a movie a couple times a month!
Of course there are plenty of other things that don't require much money or NO MONEY AT ALL. Eat in while the kids are at a sleepover, take a walk at a park (holding hands, of course), do something active like bicycling or hiking, etc.
The point is you NEVER STOP COURTING ONE ANOTHER. Do something special for your love, just because. Help your partner out when they need it. Be each others "plus one" at functions. Support one another's passions.
Aside from the cliche "don't go to bed mad at one another," which, rings especially true - it is imperative you don't stop dating your special person. Life is hard and it's harder when other factors are introduced into the mix i.e. a stressful job, a demanding career, raising kids, maintaining a home, bill payments etc. The list goes on!
Just remember to reserve the time occasionally for only the two of you. Not only will you rekindle that spark that initially brought you two together but you may get to find out something new about one another as well!
Welcome to my blog where I share my inner thoughts on life and all things I love - beauty, home decor and design, amazing food, our family travels, and fashion!