Uncategorized

Let Them Eat Chocolate!

live a lotI’ve been pretty vocal about the struggles I’ve endured these past couple of months. And no, I’m not seeking attention or pity, instead, I hope my words reach the right ears. Ultimately, it was the strength of those that shared their story with me that gave me hope about my own situation.

Self-love/ self-care became THE common them. And so did nourishment. I started to research ways to nurse my entire self back to life. Acupuncture was huge in the physical and emotional aspect of things. But given that my sessions would only be twice a month, I needed to further research ways to upkeep my health. During this process I found out that I was vitamin D deficient, so naturally I began to take the supplements AND looked into all other things that would help boos this deficiency. In the midst of my research, I found so much information. And believe it or not, CHOCOLATE kept popping up throughout the digging process.

The stars aligned because I came across https://livealot.org/. Live a lot chocolate is a powerful sister duo- Giovanna and Regina! These gals were tired of our unhealthy lifestyles of “living a little” through unhealthy food and habits, so they decided  to make the shift to Live A Lot. We infuse more life into our days through chocolate, movement, healthy food, and gratitude.

Live A Lot superfood chocolate bars are a comforting snack without the sugar crash. Crafted with intention to nourish your body and celebrate your taste buds. Their creamy and delicious chocolate bars combine the healing power of unroasted cacao with other superfoods like matcha, goji, schizandra, mucuna, ginger, and medicinal mushrooms. All of their products are crafted with organic, fair trade cacao from Ecuador. They don’t include dairy, soy, gluten, or refined sugar in our chocolate –  they only sweeten with coconut sugar.
Their 3 bars are:

IGNITE – Enhance Joy: Infused with goji berry, schizandra berry, and cardamom to enhance the senses, mood, and feeling of pleasure.

REVIVE – Energy Boost: Infused with matcha green tea, ginger, and mucuna to feed the brain and provide a zen-like energy boost without the crash.

UNWIND – Reduce Stress: Infused with a blend of 30 medicinal mushrooms that support immunity and help balance out stress levels.

Fast forward a couple weeks later, and I found myself in Peru surrounded by all things cacao! If that’s not the universe speaking directly to me, then I don’t know what it is. But the moral of the story is this: small businesses with  real stories that want to pay it forward are my jam. Social media has become congested with all things trendy, which is totally cool and all, but I choose to support those that speak to me. Being sick changed so many things for me. Getting caught up in the trends that society constantly measures us up to, is not a web I want to continue to be tangled up in. There’s a reason I went through what I did, and its my obligation to talk about it and share my findings.

Having said that, LET THEM EAT CHOCOLATE!

 

Cheers,

gicelmybell

*thanks G & R for sharing your story and creating this amazing superfood for the world to enjoy!

 

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anxiety, Blog, Culture, Family, Journey, Life, Uncategorized, Women

No one said it would be easy…

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How much did we complain about 2016? And how much were we looking forward to 2017? Or maybe it was just me. Regardless, I was certain 2017 was going to be a kick ass year and I was waiting for it with open arms.

Two weeks into the year and my life was turned upside down. Do I sound dramatic? Yes? Well, that’s because I don’t do well in times of crisis. It was a sunny afternoon, and I must have just had lunch when I felt a tingling feeling take over me, from head to toe. My hands and feet began to feel sweaty and then, numbness. This happened within seconds, and it took me  couple of minutes to gather myself and mustard the courage to get up and head to the nearest mirror. I was certain that the right side of my face was droopy. I immediately thought: bell’s palsy. I looked in the mirror and all was good. The numbness was still lingering with the feeling of cold limbs. What was going on? My mind immediately began to feel foggy and slowly but surely I drifted into an out of body experience. For days after, my routine was to run to the restroom and look at my face. I really felt like my face was droopy. This feeling brought confusion which turned into fear. I made an appointment to see my doctor and she ruled out any type of stroke and/or bell’s palsy; thank GOD. She said I had a nervous breakdown due to stress/ anxiety. I was happy to hear that, but still questioned why my body felt like it was on an awful trip. She assured me that it was just part of the process.

Days turned into weeks. Confusion turned into fear and sadness. This was not only taking a toll on me but on everyone around me. I’d make plans only to cancel. Eventually I just stopped answering. I spiraled downwards fast, so fast , I had no idea when it happened. I would sleep, cry, and sleep again. Some symptoms seemed to get better, only for others to pop-up. My muscles were sore. My tongue was swollen. My mind was foggy and the list goes on.I was in both physical and emotional pain. I had completely lost control of my being. I began to pray and allow myself to open up about what/ how I was feeling. Folks shared their experiences and that my pivotal point. There is something so intimate and fragile about people coming together and share their experiences with you. Coming from a Mexican background, as most people I know, this isn’t easy. We do not talk about these things. I am fortunate to work with a colleague turned friend who reminded me on a daily that it was okay to talk about it and that it would only be temporary. I leaned on her more than I would have liked, but I’m thankful that she was always willing to listen. I truly believe God makes no mistakes. He kept making me cross paths with folks that were uplifting and supportive. I’m beyond thankful.

It’s been a month and a day, but feels like a year. Everyday things get better. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my body, patience, understanding, and others. This life is demanding and it is up to us to make it as tough and/or as easy as we possibly can. In a sense we’re just like little kids–often times the signs are there and we just refuse to listen. I no longer view this as a breakdown but instead, a breakthrough.

So was 2016 a bad year? Is 2017 better? The answer is NO and YES. I’ve got a different perspective now. Every single day we wake up is a good day. My husband and children are healthy and happy. We’ve got a place we call home and food on our table. We are surrounded by the most amazing beautiful people that show us love time and time again. No one said it would be easy, but we’re more resilient than we think me are. I continue to put one foot in front of the other. I will continue to help normalize dialogues about mental health in our communities.  We must share the knowledge and continue to pay it forward. There is a reason behind this experience that I might no quite understand now, but in due time I will.  I’m not where I used to be but I’m slowly getting there.

Cheers,

gicelmybell 

p.s. If anyone has any questions about my experience or findings along the way, I’m more than happy to chat.

 

 

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Blog, Life, Women

New Year, Same ‘Ol Me

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At 34 years of age, I’ve come to the realization that things don’t always go as planned. As a matter of fact, more often than not we end up setting high expectations for ourselves, only to be our biggest let down. So as time as gone on, instead of setting new year’s resolutions for myself, I don’t. Now, if you’re big on resolutions, continue to GO BIG! I’m not here to crush on anyone’s aspirations. They just haven’t worked all that well for me.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m very much a go-getter, I’m just not very much of a planner. I like to live life in the present and very much aware. Instead of giving up halfway through my resolutions only to come full circle once the new year comes, I make small resolutions happen throughout the year. Why wait until the new year to change something that you would like to improve or achieve? In my opinion, living in the present has allowed me to live a much fuller, positive, and peaceful life. As a wife, mother, graduate student, and a career in higher education, all of the aforementioned are detrimental for my well-being. And as you all know, if us mamas are well, then our homes will be too.

So, in 2017, try something a bit different. Let go of the pressure and live life a bit more mindful and aware. This will take practice but it will feel oh so good once you accomplish it. But, if you are big on resolutions, please share your ways! I always love to hear and see things through the eyes of others. It’s refreshing to learn new things that perhaps, I had never thought of.

One thing I am certain of, this year I will be a better version of the same ‘ol me.

Cheers!

gicelmybell 

 

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Getaways, Journey, Life, National Park, Travel, trips, Zion

Be-UTAH-ful

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When people would ask where I would be spending my summer vacation, I’d respond and say “Utah”. The responses + facial expressions were priceless. A hint of “HUH?”, a dash of “WTF”, with a sprinkle of “WHY?”But for the most part, once I explained why we were headed there, I usually got the ooh’s and aah’s. ZION, we were going to Utah to visit Zion National Park.img_7190

After having traveled to Europe a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with wanting to travel outside of the country with my family. I realized fairly quickly how it sounds good in theory, but the reality was  unattainable. Traveling is a privilege and an expensive luxury. img_7157

I began to look up places that I’ve always wanted to experience and would hope to share the experience with my family. It’s important for both my husband and I to raise educated and cultured human beings, among other things. With that being said, I like to visit places that are very rich in culture and/or are historical landmarks. So there we were, summer was fast approaching, and I was itching to travel. Where could we go to soak in what was left of summer. ZION. img_7185

As most of you know, Zion National Park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States. And it was only a 5 hour 15 minute drive away! Can you believe you can cross 3 states in such short time?! I’m not going to lie, I put in some work to convince Robert and Zoe. But they eventually warmed up to the idea once they caught a glimpse of the Airbnb we’d be staying at. It had nothing to do with the beautiful outdoor space we’d be visiting. Ha ha! img_7151

I highly encourage anyone that appreciates the outdoors to visit Zion at least once in their life. I would like to share for those with little ones, that the hikes are intense. The inclination in particular. Gael, my 7 year old just barely made it through a 1.5 miles hike. But you know your little ones more than I do. I by no means want to discourage you from taking the trip. If you don’t care for hiking or are okay with skipping out on it, by all means, go! Take your little ones. There’s a beautiful river that they can dip their feet in and all the open space for them to run wild and free. img_7124

Also, take time to walk around the tiny city that leads into the park: Springfield. You can park in Springfield and either walk or shuttle in to the park. Or if you decide to bypass that and just park inside the park, parking pass was $15 good for 7 days! Make your way directly into their “Information Center”, grab a map, ask questions, jump on the shuttle that’ll take you to the hike of your choice, and fill up your water bottles! Zion is very tourist friendly and easy to navigate, I promise. img_7156

Let me know if any of you all visit and let me know your thoughts! I know I din’t go into too much detail, but ask me any questions you might have. I’m happy to answer them.

Cheers!

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Blog, Friends, Getaways, Journey, Life, trips, Uncategorized, Women

Hit the Road Jack…

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by Ray Charles was playing this beautiful Saturday evening as my gals and I enjoyed a drink and sat poolside at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs. As I sipped my drink and hummed along to the song, I gazed out into the dark but yet clear skies, and realized I was actually on a weekend getaway. And I was absolutely okay with it.

Let me explain. Prior to this particular occasion, the only other time I’ve been away from my husband and children, was when I traveled to Spain while completing my undergrad studies. Lots of uncertainty and tears were shed pre-trip, during the trip, and post-trip. I questioned whether I was making and had made the right decision. You see, I’m the mother that worries about what my children will say about me in 5, 10, 15 years! Will they say “well, you weren’t there because you were too busy traveling to Spain…” or “well, you were always in school..or at work.” Does that make sense? Perception, i think that’s the word i’m looking for.

But yet here I was enjoying my very first and official getaway. I’m lucky to have friends that 1) include me in plans despite the fact that I have kids and 2) don’t take “no” for an answer. More often than not I need that peer pressure to peek its head out.

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Needless to say, I hadn’t had this much fun in a long time. It felt good to not have to worry about anything but myself. Selfish? Sure it is, but I’ve earned every bit of it.

Cheers!

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p.s. if you saw my snaps, promise some better ones will come in the very near future. Here’s a hint: Portland in November and possibly Tel Aviv + Jerusalem in May 2017 (fingers crossed!)

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Culture, DTLA, Family, Journey, Life, Music, Uncategorized

The Grammy Museum

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Yo, I’m back! Not that anyone missed me or anything, but…

Those of you who know us, know that Miles plays music. When he was younger he would pick up the instruments that Rob would leave laying around, but it wasn’t until middle school that he began to develop and flourish into a little talented musician. The music program at his middle school is one of the main reason we decided to send him there. It was worth it. He was a part of the band, drum line, and jazz band. This academic school year the Theloniuos Institute of Jazz collaborated with 10 LAUSD school to provide private lessons for the jazz band at those schools. Imagine these young adults getting lessons from some of the most talented musicians around! It’s heartbreaking to see that music and the arts are at the top of the list when funds are cut short.

After an entire year of hard work and practice, they were given the opportunity to play the one and only Grammy Museum on June 4. We (Robert and I) were stoked! Miles on the other hand seemed very indifferent. It was just “another” performance. But the show must go on, and it did. I’m getting chills just replaying all the phenomenal performances by young adults ranging from 13-17 years of age. Simply mind blowing. You know they say that most musicians that are virtuosos were more than likely prodigies. I know for a fact I witnessed some that afternoon. And it was a the very end of the show when Miles finally realized what an amazing opportunity he was given. That show changed a lot of things for him. Embarking on his high school journey in less than a week, he vowed to quit playing music at school and was convinced he would pick up sports. Well, that wasn’t the case after the Grammy Museum performance.

There’s  a part of me that thinks that the reason he didn’t want to continue with music in high school, is due to the lack of popularity. Miles is a well-known, well liked kid that cares about perception. But then again, maybe that’s all kids at his age (?). Regardless, we’re hoping to instill the value and appreciation of being unique. Up until now Miles has marched to the beat of his own drum, and we want nothing more for him than to continue to do that. Naturally, hearing that he’ll continue to pursue music was music to my ears.

Like everything else, this was a complete family affair. We got access to the entire museum and the kids loved it. Highly recommend it if you’re into music or if you’re into letting your kids run around, mess with instruments, all while burning off some energy. Ha ha!

Much appreciation to ESMS and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz for believing in the talented youth of our future. This is and will be an unforgettable experience.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

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Family, Journey, Life, Love, Salvation Mountain, trips

Salvation Mountain

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We were headed south on a very much long overdue family trip. We try to visit our family in Mexicali at least 3x a year. We look up cool bucket list spots to make pit stops at on our way there. Last time we drove to Mexicali, we made a pit stop at the Cabazon Dinosaurs Museum. If we could enjoy two places in one long weekend getaway, why not?! This time, I brought up the idea of stopping off at Salvation Mountain. Leave it to me to drive us somewhere “interesting”.

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“I have a feeling we’re not in LA anymore”, was the first thought that came to mind as we drove into the small town of Niland, CA. I had only see this place in pictures and it had blown me away! However, as we entered the small town, we still drove about 2 miles before actually getting to our destination. There were trailers to my left and God loving signs to my right. Now, i’d like to say that it was everything I imagined it to be, but it wasn’t. The vibe in particular. Instead, it was a bit creepy at first. I think the rest of my clan can attest to that. Any-who, there were two locals and their dogs were hanging out in a booth at the bottom of the mountain.  And anytime someone would step somewhere not allowed, you can hear the lady  shout; “follow the yellow paint! Don’t climb that way! Get down from there! Wrong way!”. Yikes!

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That didn’t stop the kids from immediately making their way to the top of the mountain. The rest of us followed while my mom trailed behind huffing and puffing. She kept saying “this is why I need to exercise more often”, as if she exercises to begin with– ha ha! Love my mama!  We continued to explore the rest of the mountain and really began to enjoy the art and creativity that surrounded the mountain. If you don’t know the story, click the link above and read it. It’s amazing what one man did to share his love of God.

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Although this place was not quite all that I imagined it to be, I’m glad we went.  It’s a good place to stop off for a quick stretch if you’re headed in that direction.  Especially if you’re traveling with kids. I also suggest that you come during the day. It’s a bit tricky to get to, and I’m not sure I’d like to get stranded or lost in Niland. Needless to say, we stayed for about 30 minutes before we were on our merry way. But not before snapping tons of pictures!

Cheers!

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Disclaimer: This is not a preachy post. I’m not trying to impose my beliefs on anyone. Just sharing a cool spot and our experience.

 

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