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

Salvation Mountain


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”.


“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!


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.


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!






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.


Concerts, Culture, Family, Journey, Life, Love, Mexican, Music

If I could, I would


If you asked me what my thoughts were about Natalia LaFourcade about two months ago, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said “yeah, whatevs”. When it comes to music, I like what I like. I absolutely love to be exposed to new music, but it takes sometime to include them with my circle of “faves”.

Late September a friend of mine randomly (eek!) invited me to the Latin Grammy’s Acoustic Session featuring Julieta Venegas and Natalia LaFourcade. Now, if you know me, you know I absolutely LOVE Julieta Venegas but every single time she’s been in town I’ve missed her. So you know I agreed to be her date! Not only was I going to finally see Julieta Venegas live but it was happening at this very exclusive show. Julieta 2

Natalia LaFourcade came on stage and got the show running with one of her new singles titled “Hasta la raiz”, which translates into “To the Root”. I must have been biting my lip the entire time trying to fight back tears. The lyrics pierced right through my soul. The song itself talks about the journey of leaving home. Leaving your country behind and the sacrifices and heartache that come with that journey.

You’ve all have probably heard this story before and know that I was born in Mexico City and migrated here with my mother when I was 5 years old. As a kid, I never questioned the reason behind it, I never really cared. All I knew is that my parents led and I followed. This didn’t resurface and cross my mind until I became a mother myself. For a while, I was a bit upset at my parents. My father for having left both my mother and I behind to provide a better life for us, and my mother for having endangered our lives  while attempting to cross the border. LITERALLY. I remember looking at Miles when he was 5 and just thinking about how I could never ever expose him to such danger. It took years before I could realize that all my father wanted was to provide what he knew he couldn’t had we stayed back home. And my mom, well, it was the unconditional love that she had for her husband, the father of her child that drove her to do such a thing. I applaud my parents and love them for teaching me all about unconditional love. natalia

Born in Mexico, raised in Los Angeles, but 28 years later and I still yearn for home. If I had the opportunity to get up and move all of my family back home, I would do it in a heartbeat. I’m still trying to figure out where this feeling stems from but in the meantime, it looks like it’s here to stay. Needless to say, when the song began to play and I began to listen to the lyrics, it spoke to me directly. Natalia LaFourcade did something for me that most all artists I love do: it connected me to a memorable place and time in my life. She, this song, it transported me HOME. I’m almost certain that’s the beauty and the gift of music. I must have gone home and listened to every single one of her albums after the show and have since become obsessed. My connection aside, if you’re a music lover, I highly recommend you check her out. She’s unbelievably talented.

A million thanks to my friend Kristine who made this happen.



p.s. listen to my two latest obsessions ❤


The Broad


As a young girl I used to frequent the Museum of Contemporary Art aka MOCA. It started off as a school field trip, but soon I would be asking my dad to take me quite often. I used to sit there and sketch the sky scrappers towering over DTLA. And ever since, visiting museums has been something I absolutely love to do. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m some sort of art connoisseur, that just means I love the feeling of traveling into someone else’s world. I try to break down the artists’ thought process while admiring their work.IMG_2751

This love I have for museums is something I want to instill in my children. And I think I might already have. Last year while in Mexico City, I made sure to hit as many museums and historical grounds with the kids. I can confidently say that they are some little explorers just like their momma. Dad on the other hand wishes the museums can come to him. Ha ha !

Luckily, there was not much convincing to do when I told him about the new museum in town: The Broad. As I was reading off the list of artists that are featured, he was sold at the mention of Basquiat. Needless to say, I was happy! We didn’t have reserved tickets, which meant we would have to head out a bit early and hope that we would get in. And we did! I quickly signed up for a time slot for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room, as I’ve heard time slots go fast! I smiled as the museum associate gave me my 10:50 am tim12208272_10207615823572033_7536879106288317390_ne slot. Yay!

The kids were oh so well behaved, with the exception that they refused to take pictures. Does that count as  misbehaving in your book? It does in mine! Ha. They were particularly fond of Warhol’s pop art, Koons because what kid doesn’t love a jumbo sized blue balloon dog steel sculpture, Yayoi Kusama’s endless LED light display surrounded by water, and Wool. They also loved the twists in the staircases and the Willy Wonka like elevator. It was spacious enough to where the kids didn’t fel like they had to walk on eggshells, it was perfect!

I highly recommend you make this a date with your significant other, a girl’s day, and/or a family fun day! The Broad will not disappoint.





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Back to School for the Mamas


The story goes a little something like this: 31 weeks ago my girl @jboogiemontano tagged me in a giveaway that @pasadenacharm was hosting. @pasadenacharm is the cutest IG account that pretty much exposes the world to the “Creme de la Creme of Pasadena, CA”. In other words, all the cool sh*t we might not know about Pasadena. Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, so @pasadenacharm was collaborating on some cool things with Lula Mae–a cute tiny shop in non other than *drumroll please* Pasadena! And although it was my gal that followed @pasadenacharm it was I who won the contest! I was most excited to meet the gal behind @pasadenacharm. We might have exchanged a few words but Taryn swept me off my feet. One of the sweetest most genuine person ever. Taryn said that she had read my blog and was inspired by my story! What?!? I haven’t seen her since, but I’m one loyal follower and try to support her mission even if it’s just by tapping twice. You know what i mean?

The story continues on like this: Taryn then tags me in a @heymamaco post, introducing me to a community of amazing talented mamas doing amazing things. And this is how @hanahsaurus aka @magicmamascents and I stumbled upon each other. I missed the opportunity to meet her a couple months ago when Taryn invited me to a local Madewell event they were having. But I made sure to keep my ears and eyes open for any upcoming events. I should say that I had no idea that @hanahsaurus and @magicmamascents were the same person. It wasn’t until I saw the post from both @pasadenacharm and @hanahsaurus inviting mamas to Lou & Grey in Pasadena for a “Back to School for the Mamas Local Artisan Market” that I realized Hanah was the gal behind @magicmamascents. I knew immediately that I wanted to stop by and meet Hanah but also say “hello” to Taryn.

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Long story short. I was on a date with my youngest Gael, who by the way behaved extraordinarily well. I wish I could say it was due to my parenting but I give credit where credit is deserved. Thank you Yogurt land! We walked in and I immediately spotted Hanah. I think i might have even rudely interrupted the conversation she was having with a client. Oops! So guys, let me tell you that this was my first time buying essential oils. I hear about them all the time and how wonderful they are but never really paid much attention. Hanah explained all the benefits of her oils and how she uses them. I fell in love with and walked away with the Sleepy Moon Spray and a beautiful gifted sage– homegirl discount. And oh my word! Not only does it smell amazing but it also helps calm my crazy ass nerves.

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@magicmamascents was not the only one reppin’ at this cute local pop-up. Some other local favorites present were @popupgreens with her super cute hand painted pots & potted plants. @goldpresspaper with her perfectly craved lettering and custom made cards. And lastly, there was @sweetclems, an “entrepreneur trying to bring a smile to your face one popsicle at a time”. All in all, it was a Saturday afternoon well spent! A special shout out to my girl @jboogiemontano for entering us in any and all giveaways possible. This would’ve never happened without you. xx


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*No compensation was received for this post. Just sharing a cool event I attended over the weekend.


Get up, get out, & live

IMG_2342 Weekends are for cleaning, doing laundry, and then cleaning some more, right? For the past 15 years of my life, I’ve fallen into this routine-like life and there is no one else to blame but me. In a perfect world my house would be clean and organized every single day of the week. I’ve always thought of an unorganized house as a poor reflection of me as a wife and mother. So, unless we have major plans, weekends are for picking up after the tornado that hit our home. But with staying indoors came waking up really late (10-11:00am) and feeling sluggish. By this time, the rest of the world was either having their third cup of coffee or thinking about lunch! .

Well, this past week I decided to put an end to that routine. My alarm sounded off at 6am Saturday morning. Not quite sure why it went off since I have it set weekdays only. Well, that’s besides the point. I really think the universe was trying to tell me something.  The first thought that came to my mind was a list of things that needed to get done. And immediately after that I thought to myself, “is this really how things are going to be until the end of times?”. And it was at that very moment that I decided that I would get up, lace up my running shoes and go for an early morning beach run. I messaged my sister and being the trooper that she is, she agreed to come along. By 7:30am, we were on the road. What would normally be a 45 minute drive to Santa Monica, ended up being a 20 minute drive. There was also plenty of street parking to choose from. It was perfect!

I had a 4 mile run scheduled that day, so I figured why not run from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice. It was way more than a 4 mile stretch but it was worth it. The smell of fresh air, the white fluffy clouds, the waves crashing, and the beautiful rays of sunlight all dancing together. After the run, I took my shoes off and made my way to the water and allowed the sand to gently massage my feet. I stood in awe, admiring the peaceful and serene view of the sea stretching out farther than the human eye can see.

I will no longer allow myself to drown in a mountain full of house chores. Because let’s face it, with three kids at home, I’ll never see the end of it. Three kids that are sort of falling into this “we don’t want to do anything but be on our phones” type of deal. Again, I take full accountability for that as well. I realize it will take some time but soon enough the kids will be the early birds leading the way.

As women and mothers, we are constantly taking care of those around us. Some people call it being selfish, I call it taking care of myself. That being said,  I no longer want to miss out on moments like these. I can no longer let this world continue to pass US by. There’s things to do, places to see, and people to meet! We’ve got to get up, get out, and live!


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Married to Socality Barbie…


Socality Barbie material? Not even close!

Well, it went more like “Wow, I’m married to Socality Barbie–ha ha!”  Those were Robert’s exact words after having read a Socality Barbie article on the Huffington Post. FYI- Robert is my baby daddy aka husband/viejo (ol’ man).

For those of you not familiar with Socality Barbie, she’s a “hipster” Barbie from the PNW that is all the rave on Instagram. The ingenious behind SB is a woman from non-other than Portland, Oregon. She refuses to reveal herself all for the sake of safe keeping the authenticity of SB. What this character does is mock these perfectly aesthetic manners that some IG users seem to gravitate to. SB nails it, from the oh so perfect nature + coffee snapshots to the liveauthentic, livefolk, kinfolk hashtags.

Ahem, back to Robert’s comment. Given all that I know about SB, I wasn’t sure whether to take offense or be flattered. I think my response was “hold up, are you calling me fake?”. I immediately began to think about my account and it’s content.  Is that the impression I’m giving off? Is it possible that my followers think I’m fake? I’ve become good friends with some and they can attest to my genuine authenticity. But what about the rest? Sure they’re strangers but it’s important to me that folks get the real me. Ahh!


We all love pretty + delicious food pics that make us salivate right?

For starters, my IG account is not nearly as nice as SB. Have I used some of the same hashtags? Sure I have. Have I brushed up a bit on my iPhone picture taking skills? Sure. I don’t necessarily find anything wrong with that. My IG account has evolved since I first joined. Whether it be inspiration from other accounts I follow, or just simply getting a beautiful snapshot of my kids beachfront. Instagram has allowed me to tap into a small bit of creative side that I had no idea I possessed. It’s also allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and act a fool behind the lens. I’m by no means a professional photographer nor am I claiming to be one either, but when someone compliments your picture taking skills–I’ve got to admit, it’s a nice feeling. All in all, these snapshots are created for me by me. Or as some of you might know, the other person behind the iPhone lens is my 12 year old Miles. He’s got a pretty good eye!


Who doesn’t love pictures of pretty blue skies + palm trees? Amiright?

It’s crazy how one little comment made me over analyze my entire life! Ha ha! It most definitely will not stop me from snapping pretty pictures. Sorry Rob, you’re stuck supporting my insta-habits.

So I conclude with this, let’s have fun with social media. It’s such an amazing vehicle that helps transport people all over the world. Be creative and continue to share things that others might not be aware of but be very much interested in. Have fun! And Socality Barbie, do your thing. I love your feed!


p.s. if you want raw material from my everyday life, follow me on SnapChat @gicelmybell.  Pretty glimpses of my life? Follow me on Instagram @gicelmybell. For all things in between , there’s Facebook @Gicel Martell de Zardeneta.


Run, G, Run…

You’ve heard me say plenty that MUSIC is my boyfriend. RUNNING is a one night stand that you never admit to having (at least not out loud)  because it makes you sick to your stomach to even think about it. Ha ha! However, these two combined are a perfect match.

Growing up I was a tomboy. I played outside and got down and dirty. My parents both worked to make ends meet, so asking them to enroll me in an extra-curricular activity, was completely out of the question. In middle school I fell in love with the game of basketball. It didn’t take much to convince my parents to let me take part of the Belvedere Junior High basketball team. Not only was it free of cost, it was my afterschool babysitter. Basketball would give me something to do while I waited for my parents to pick me up at 5:00pm. It worked out for all parties involved.

I continued to play all throughout my middle and high school years. I was the starting point guard my freshman year at Wilson High School in Los Angeles. Basketball was my everything–until conditioning came around. Conditioning was basically HELL on Earth. During about a 6-week period of time, we weren’t allowed to touch a basketball. What?! It was all about getting in shape for the season. It was all about running, drill without balls, stairs, drill without balls, mile stairs, and more drills without being able to touch a ball! Absurd if you ask me. More than running, I absolutely hated the fact that my coach expected me to lead the mile run by far because I was the point guard. He never quite understood why the center would finish her mile run before me. Frankly, I could’ve cared less. I would never run out of gas on the court, but put me out in a track and this little engine no longer could. My basketball days came to an end my senior year when I tore my ACL but not before winning a ring.

I retired myself into a couple of Women’s Leagues, then I learned to officiate, did that for a couple years, and then nothing. Eventually I would miss being active. I bought a gym membership and fell in love with spinning, but once our first home went into escrow, that meant the gym membership would have to be cancelled–amongst other things. Since the purchase of our first home, I’ve endured two foot surgeries. Recovery time? About three years. So it’s been about two years that I’ve tried to genuinely fall in love with running. And man, have failed time and time again. I wouldn’t even go out looking for excuses, the excuses would come to me. Ha ha!


Meet the friend (Susana) of a friend (Jennifer) that introduced me to BlackList LA. Right to left: Jennifer, Susana, myself

I started out with a 14 minute mile–yikes! I wanted to see immediate improvements, even if I only ran 3x a month. I mean right? That in itself was a reason to quit. It’s been two months since I decided that I would make running my bitc*! Yes, I said it. This time, I started with a 12 minute mile. Dragging myself out to run was a drag in itself. While running all I could think of was how much I hated life at that very moment. But it was at the end of the run where I felt an all time natural high. There’s no better feeling like the one of a clear mind, body, and soul. I felt the toxins leaving my body with every bit of sweat rolling down my face. It felt good, really good. I slowly became addicted to this feeling. It became an everyday evening ritual with me and the kids. The kids would get their skateboarding/ jungle gym time on,  while mom got her run on. It was perfect.

Since then, I’ve met a lot of other folks that have an affinity for running. A dear friend of mine introduced me to one of her friend’s who at the first mention of the word “run”, immediately introduced me to BlackList LA. I joined this avid running group for the very first time last Monday. It was the most fun I’ve had since taking on running. BlackList LA takes place on Monday nights at 10pm in different locations in Los Angeles. Sure it’s on Monday nights and there’s work the next day but it’s well worth it. Check them out @BlackListLA on twitter or Instagram.

I’m now at a 9:07 minute mile. Not too bad after three pregnancies, one knee surgery, two foot surgeries, thirty-two years of life, and two months of training. Yes, that was me shamelessly tooting my own horn. Someone has got to do it! Still, I can’t really say that I absolutely love running, but I can say that running has become my happy place. I still have deadly thoughts at the beginning, halfway through, and at the very end of the run, but the end results are euphoric. I’ve stopped running to beat my time and started running to relax my mind, body, and soul. I run to shake off any negative vibes that I might have attracted during the day. I run to release any anger, sadness, or frustration that I might be holding on to. I run to maintain this temple we call body healthy. I run to stay healthy for my children, grandchildren, and If I’m lucky my great-grandchildren. I run to take care of myself and my well-being. Because without that, I cannot take care of all those who need me.


BlackList LA folks getting ready to take DTLA for a run!

p.s. I use the Nike+Running app on my iPhone. All other apps I’ve tried to use are way too complicated. This Nike app keeps it simple and to the point. I highly recommend it! Oh, and soon I’ll be running my very first 5k…baby steps!

p.s.s. I’ve never had a one night stand. It was simply to humor you all!