From One Young Woman to Another

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This is a letter to the young woman who stole the package off my family’s front porch:

I genuinely feel sorry for you. I feel sad for you that you are obviously in a place in your life that stealing is a viable option for you. I’m going to assume that you chose to steal today with the intention to make a few bucks. Kudos to you. You succeeded. I hope that the money you make goes towards something worthwhile. Maybe you are saving up to go back to school, buy food for yourself or your family, or maybe you are saving up for a car that you need to get to job interviews. I really hope that it’s something bigger picture like that. But, the pessimistic and cynical side of me thinks you’ll use that couple hundred bucks to buy cigarettes or another one of those energy drinks in a can…just like the one you had in your hand as you grabbed that package. I really hope it isn’t though.

I make an active effort day-in and day-out to envision myself in another’s shoes. Especially in situations when me or someone I care about is negatively affected by someone else’s actions. In this case, my Dad. It helps me cope. By imagining the various reasons for someone to choose to damper someone else’s day, it helps me empathize. Obviously, this person isn’t happy. A person who decided to be rude to me or steal from my family…they are obviously in a worse off position than I am.

So, to the woman who stole that package: we will be reporting you…and I do hope you get caught, if only to teach you that what you are doing isn’t the right way to get what you really want. The footage showed you running away. That means you know what you did was wrong. I can safely state that you were taught the difference between right and wrong.

I am trying to be a champion for women more everyday…and with that, comes with trying to understand what I have in common with other women and vice versa; using commonalities to build bridges and learning new perspectives when there are things we don’t agree with. Anyways, I think what me and you have in common is that we are both young. There’s still a lot of life to live and a lot of potential to unlock. However, the biggest difference between us, given that my initial assumption about your intentions is correct, is that I was at work making a living at 2:14pm and you were wandering my neighborhood searching for packages to steal in order to make a living for yourself. Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to pursue higher education like I did. Maybe you did. I’ve seen examples of women who have succeeded regardless of their level of education or where they were raised. This gives me hope that regardless of your background, you can make something of yourself too.

As women we need to continue to rise as a group, and in order to do so, we must support one another…and this also means calling each other out on our bullsh*t. Stealing someone else’s hard earned money is frankly, bullsh*t. You can earn your own.  Submitting the footage of you to the authorities is our way of calling you out. I genuinely support your future success by hopefully making this a learning experience for you. I hope that you realize you can do better.

Sincerely,

Another Young Woman…just like you.

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Instagram Hot-Spot: Melrose Avenue

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Carrera Cafe – La La Land Mural

I recently went on a Los Angeles photo-taking adventure with my childhood friend Annie and her roommate Sicilia 🙂 Our main goal was to take pictures in front of the La La Land mural on Melrose Ave., after I came across it on my Instagram feed. I immediately thought of Annie because even though she lives in the OC now, she’s always down for adventures in LA, especially when photography is involved. She’s also a sucker for the movie just as much as I am.

Side note: Annie also has a blog and posts about her awesome photography, so you should check her stuff out HERE 😉

A few weeks went by until we were both free to make a trip, and we had it all planned out. I wore a yellow dress to sort-of match the dress Emma Stone wears in the movie and everything! (Don’t judge me). After the outfit-planning, enduring the usual LA traffic and struggle to find parking…we discovered that the mural was gone.  At the time, Coachella was two weeks away, so the wall had been overhauled into a festival-themed Lady Gaga mural. 😦 Not that I don’t love Lady Gaga and no shade on Coachella…but we were just so excited to check out the La La Land mural! So sad. Here are screen shots from Carrera Cafe’s Instagram:

After we took a few moments to mope about the loss of our La La Land opportunity, we still made the most of our time at Carrera Cafe and grabbed ourselves cute lattes. The cafe is well-known for it’s awesome, meme-friendly latte art:

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You best believe I got myself Ryan Gosling latte art to cope.

Paul Smith Wall

As we sipped our coffees next to the popular Lady Gaga wall, we noticed droves of people across the street as well, taking pictures in front of another Instagram-famous spot: the Paul Smith Wall (aka The Pink Wall). It’s a very interesting situation to observe, so I had a very good time people-watching. It’s literally a parking lot for the clothing store. Yet, an abnormal amount of people were hanging out in it with little-to-no intention of actually walking into the store. Their only intention was to take pictures. So odd…so fascinating…very LA. So,we joined the crowd to see what it was all about. Can you blame people for being attracted to a bright pink wall? Forget about the Hollywood sign that’s impossible to get to now-a-days, go to the Pink Wall instead! Haha. Jk…but not really.

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Fred Segal Green Ivy Wall

After partaking in the Paul Smith wall hype, we continued to walk down Melrose Ave. and stumbled upon a wall covered in vines from top to bottom! It was such a pretty green so we made a pit stop. Even as the cars zoomed by, we had no shame in our photoshoot game. A few other girls actually picked up on the photo-op and asked if we could take their pictures too! I don’t think it’s on the typical list of “Instagrammable” spots in L.A., but we thought it was cute, so why not? Do what makes you happy! If you’re curious to know it’s location, it’s the Fred Segal clothing store building on Melrose and North Crescent Heights Blvd. (I definitely looked that up on Google maps right now)

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Made in LA Mural

As we continued our trek down the street, we found a noticeable line (less hype than the Pink Wall though) in front of the Made in LA mural. I ended up not enjoying this one as much, maybe because I was getting hungry lol, the midday heat, or maybe because it wasn’t vibrant pink or green. I’ll never know for sure. A contributing factor could be the pressure we felt with the presence of a line of people waiting for their turn. It was also slightly difficult to capture the whole wall without having to be in the street…so we quickly snapped a few photos and headed on back to the car.

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I’m positive there are plenty more “Instagram Hot Spots” down Melrose Avenue. But after the Made in LA wall, we headed back to the car to check on our parking meter. Definitely don’t want to get a ticket in LA! Then we headed to Arts District/Little Tokyo for some food. But that’s a different blog post 🙂

What “Instagram Hot-Spots” have you been to in LA? I’d like to know 🙂 We do it for the ‘Gram am I right?! No? Okay…lol. In all seriousness, do it for the memories people, not just for the ‘gram!

Sincerely,

Melissa ❤

 

 

2017 So Far: The Year of Yes

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With almost a quarter of 2017 come and gone already, I wanted to take a moment to reflect back on what I’ve experienced so far. I didn’t really make new years resolutions this year, but the one thing I decided was to make an effort to embrace more situations that scare me and make more decisions that make me happy. I purposely made these goals very broad, to allow myself to explore what it is that scares me and makes me happy.

Graduating from the Bunny Slopes – In January, I went on a semi-spontaneous snowboarding trip. It was my second time snowboarding and I was nervous about falling and shortness of breath from the altitude…not far off from the fears I experienced the first time I went snowboarding. Last time, I may have only gone down the bunny slope a total of three times before knocking out in the warm and cozy lodge while the rest of the crew went up the mountain. This time, with some peer pressure…I mean a lot of encouragement from my friends, I embraced the fear of falling and actually allowed myself the opportunity to learn! It was a lot of fun an I’m glad I did it. I also learned new phrases like “Shredding the gnar today bro?” lol.

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Taking on Public Speaking – I did not get into the public relations field because of increased opportunities to speak in front of crowds. It has always been my least favorite part of the profession because I always imagined myself as the person “behind the scenes.” Which, for the most part, is my role. Most of my job is outreach program development, which does require plenty of interaction with people, but on an individual basis. In the past couple of months, I’ve started leading meetings with other departments and making presentations at board meetings on a regular basis. I still struggle with the nervousness, but with every presentation that I complete, I’ve  become a little more comfortable and confident in the way I present my reports. It also helps that I receive such helpful feedback from my colleagues.

Getting Back to My Creative Side – I’ve upped the activity in my DIY, writing and photography side of my brain. This is something that I neglected in 2016. Last year centered around establishing myself at my job, and with that came less trips to Michaels and JoAnns and more nights of unwinding with Netflix. Not saying I didn’t enjoy that, I just miss using my hands to create things! Now that I feel like I’m at a good place in my career, I’ve taken the past few months getting back into finding the time/place to express these creative urges…including maintaining this blog. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying! (I’m currently sitting at Barnes & Nobles on a Tuesday evening to force myself  to get this post written). See below for a few photos I captured on some random exploration days I had recently in Los Angeles.

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Saying Yes to Travel – I travelled to Seattle, Washington for the first time in March! Going into the year, I didn’t have any set travel plans, I just knew I wanted to go somewhere. As opportunities to travel come up, I’m making more of an effort to work it into my schedule. I’m a big fan of taking advantage of 3-day weekends and turning them into mini-vacations. I’m also a working adult now that accrues vacation days…so that’s a thing to consider. Luckily, my boss is also awesome and encourages me to take these mini-vacation opportunities. She’s all about making sure the team doesn’t “burn out” and I appreciate that. Anyways, I’m grateful that I was invited to join my friends’ trip to Seattle because it’s been the highlight of my year so far! I’ve had multiple people tell me that they could imagine me loving Seattle, and they weren’t wrong. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy so much was the biting wind chill D: Such cold. Much freeze. I took so many photos in the city, so here are a few for you to browse through:

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Running Past the Pain – Second 10K down. Much more exercise to go. I signed up for A Better World Running‘s Spring Equinox 10K on March 25th as a source of motivation to get back into running. The training process was….hit and miss. I started training 6 weeks out (when I should’ve started 8 weeks out) and on the week prior to the race, I travelled to Seattle and spent that week prepping for the trip and not running. Surprisingly though, I had the best race experience I’ve had to date! Out of the 3 races I’ve done (10K, half marathon, then this 10K), I ran the furthest without stopping, I experienced my runner’s high at 3.5 miles which lasted to the end, I stopped feeling the pain in my shin and ankles at 4 miles, and it was great! We’ll see if 2017 brings another medal to the collection…I’m debating on signing up for another 10K this year.

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And…that’s been some of the highlights of my year thus far. I’m looking forward to doing more scary and exciting things and documenting them here 🙂 I hope you all are have had a productive first quarter of 2017 ❤ Let me know how your goals have been shaping up this year!

Sincerely,

Mez ❤

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February 2017 Favorites: Pixi Brows & Lippys

_dsc0386 Hi everyone! Long time no see! I’m going to start doing more product reviews because I try new products quite often, so I might as well share my opinions on them with you. My friends encouraged me to take a stab at Influenster, an application/website based around building a community of influencers that review lifestyle and beauty products on their various platforms. They have fun campaigns and competitions, so it’s a fun way to try new products! Hope you enjoy ❤

So, with that, I thought I’d share some of the beauty products I’ve been using throughout this Valetine’s season (it’s still relevant right? :P) Here are a few products that I’ve been crushing on this month:

Brows

What better way to grab your crush’s attention than calling them over with the fleekest of eyebrow signals? lol. I never knew what to do with my brow situation until this product. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to makeup, I’m all for enhancing features as opposed to covering them up, so I hardly thought to apply anything to my brows. The only way I knew how to manage my brows was to get them threaded on a regular basis. I’m also quite lazy when it comes to anything makeup, so I tend to search for a balance between quality and convenience. Then I found the Pixi by Petra Natural Brow Duo in the “Deep Brunette” shade.The product has a angled crayon on one end and brow gel on the other end. It has been been my go-to for a few months now and it’s almost time for me to restock. It’s affordable (bought it at Target) and travel bag friendly! All you have to do is fill in…and set. So easy!

Lips

What says Valentine’s season than lip products?! I think I am finally ready to admit my obsession with lip products. I’ve denied it for the longest time…as I watched hours of YouTube beauty gurus review all kinds of sticks, crayons, liners, stains, glosses, etc. But I’m ready to embrace the lip product culture head on! I’m a very au naturale kind of girl, so nudes and mattes are usually where I lean towards.

  • Pixi by Petra itsJudyTime Lip Palette – Judy Travis is one of my favorite YouTube beauty gurus because she not only does makeup looks for my skin tone and eye shape, but her favorite color palettes almost always match what I like as well! She recently partnered with Pixi (amazing!) and released two products: a lip creme palette and a nudes eyeshadow palette (which I also have <3). The lip cremes don’t claim to be super long lasting, so reapplications are necessary, but I really enjoy the natural range of colors available. The colors alone are great, but are definitely mixable if you want to go for something custom. The cremes go on matte and almost feels like a lip stain when they dry. It’s feels very light. I just apply it first thing in the morning with clean fingers and layer if I feel like achieving a deeper color. Again, so easy to apply!
  • Butter London Lippy – I’ve always known Butter London for their nail polishes and only stumbled upon their liquid lipsticks a couple of months ago. I bought it via Ulta during their Black Friday sale, but they typically retail for just under $20. The one pictured above is in the “Dahling” shade and I like it because it covers all the bases: it’s matte and it’s natural. On particular lazier mornings than usual, I throw this lippy in my bag, jet off to work and apply once I get myself to my desk. When applying, it feels like a stickier gloss, but dries smoothly.

 

…and that’s all for this crush-themed products review! I hope you all had a wonderful Valetine’s season whether it was with a SO, family, friends or even yourself 🙂

Sincerely,

Mez ❤

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Orlando, Florida.

In no way am I an expert in what I’m about to talk about. In no way am I feeling anything remotely close to what those directly involved must feel. Just witnessing the snippets of their grief has been enough to trigger levels of sadness I haven’t allowed myself to feel for a long time. I am writing this today as therapy for myself and am choosing to publish it in hopes that maybe there is someone out there that shares in some of the thoughts that have run through my head in the past few days.

Orlando, Florida. A place that, to an outsider like myself, is usually associated with an image of a family-friendly, sunny paradise.

While I’m sure, just like any other well-known city in the United States, crimes happen…and no, I am not going to look up that specific statistic because it isn’t the point of this post. My point is this: one person has the ability to affect people’s perception of something, someone, or some place. ONE PERSON.

These horrific instances are blatant reminders of this point. What frustrates me the most is that these heartbreaking events garner the most attention. As a person that studied media in college, I understand that it’s a journalist’s job to report on current events…and this was a big one. Everyone deserves to be informed and I thank all of the reputable resources I have used in the past couple of days to keep up with what has been happening since that early Sunday morning. However, I also know that a big part of a journalist’s job is to listen to the people, report on what they are interested in learning about and to be a watchdog figure for the community.

What I don’t understand is the disproportionate emphasis on negative news. Well, actually, I do understand it. Negative media fosters higher ratings because of an innate response to protect ourselves from harm.

Sadly, we’ve fallen into a cycle of news that is dominated by fear. Something bad happens, the news reports it. In fear, people gravitate to this news in order to file in their brain what to watch out for in order to avoid mental, physical or emotional damage. Valid. Yet, the constant saturation of negative news and this reactive response feeds into the cycle. At least that’s my belief. We have been brainwashed to think negative news is all we want to see.

Anyways, that has the potential to be it’s own separate post.

I’m frustrated because I suspect that the person responsible for all the recent pain and sadness firmly believed that the only solution to his personal problems was violence. He probably felt like he lived in a world so dark and hopeless that the only answer was to try to bring others down with him before he left it. I’m sure he was also aware that his actions wouldn’t go unnoticed.

I’m frustrated that after enough time passes, people will assimilate back to their normal lives and continue to believe that they do not have the ability to affect change.

If one person had the power to instill fear, brew anger and spread sadness in mass quantities, one person definitely has the power to do the opposite.

It is not a Disney dream my friends. We do have it in us to make positive change in this world we live in. Don’t let the negativity belittle your sense of power. ESPECIALLY, do not let those in designated “places of authority/power” make you believe you don’t have a say in what becomes law in our country. We do have a say. Remember that governmental structure called Democracy? Yeah, it still exists. It’s just buried in a bunch of bullsh*t. Don’t let the bullsh*t scare you. Be willing to learn it and navigate through it.

If you want to see less violence, do something about it. If not directly contacting your local representatives to share your thoughts on gun policies…then at the very least spread kindness and compassion in your daily life. I believe I said something similar in my post about Santa Barbara.

Smile at someone. Open a door for a stranger. Say hello to someone you have random eye contact with. Say “thank you” more. Let’s lessen the time spent looking down at our phones and more time looking up and around at our surroundings. Make an effort to genuinely connect with people and learn something new…everyday. I believe that a build up of little positive moments to outweigh the inevitable not-so-good moments leads to an overall positive/hopeful perception of the world.

Here is my message to those who were specifically targeted in Orlando this past weekend and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole: I love you, I support you, I am your ally ❤ I realize I will never fully understand the struggles you go through on a daily basis, but I can do my part and learn as much as I can. I will never stop being willing to learn a new perspective.

To end this stream of consciousness, I have no doubt that the Orlando community will take this instance and come out of the grieving process a much stronger group. ❤

Here are some resources you can access to turn “thoughts and prayers” into ACTION:

Sincerely,

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Mez

 

 

Art & Craft with Me: Pinterest v. Real Life – Fall Edition

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Happy Fall! ‘Tis the season for your arts & craft Pinterest boards that you have been building for months (maybe even years) to come alive! Dust off the tacky glue and mod podge my friends, it’s time.

To be honest, I think I am the worst Pinterest user out there. I have four boards with one or two pins in each and all I do is browse, hit the heart button and move on. I use Pinterest for ideas and inspirations, just like it’s intended to be used, but I forget to engage in the key feature of the site…..pinning things.

My disregard for “normal” Pinterest usage practices reminds me of an article I recently enjoyed. Many people have their qualms with BuzzFeed, but I generally find their content relevant to the average millennial…and it’s funny. Let me live my life people.

Anyways, I read a post written by Rachel Wilkerson Miller entitled: What Happened When I Lived According to the Pinterest Popular Page. I thought it was such a great way to bring us Pinterest users back down to reality. SPOILER ALERT: many (but not all) of the #ootds, craft projects and hairstyles Miller tried didn’t turn out the way she expected. Some people may say that they were a “fail,” but I’d like to think otherwise. Yes you are probably right in thinking that the upside down french braid is probably the most difficult “quick hair-do” on Pinterest to actually achieve…but I think people forget that everyone’s situation is unique.

The ONE person that posted the original tutorial obviously has the most ideal hair-type to achieve the look. That, and she more-than-likely sprayed her hair with products to get her hair to cooperate. It’s all determinant of the situation, access to supplies and skill. Same goes for the picture-perfect crafts that Pinterest features. What the typical Pinterest browser doesn’t realize is that  most of these popular posts have authors that are skilled in lighting and photography that help make their final products look “picture perfect,” and I say that with no negative connotation. By all means, everyone has a right to share their skills in any shape or form. That’s the beauty of art.

I’m just saying that we, as  average consumers of Pinterest content, need to remember that there’s a lot that we don’t see on the creator-side. Most importantly, we need to remember that any attempt at a DIY project on Pinterest is not necessarily a “fail” when it doesn’t turn out like the picture. Just like you choose the selfie with the best lighting and head tilt to post on Instagram, posts on Pinterest are no different.  It’s okay to have a wonky-looking DIY candle! It’s a testament to your unique skill set and personality. So go ahead and color outside of the lines. Do you Boo Boo!

Just food for thought 🙂

ONTO THE CRAFT!

Side note: So, it seems to be an ongoing trend for me to post a teaser on my social media channels about an upcoming blog and then not post it until weeks later.  SORRY. I get spurts of inspiration and then life gets in the way. I made it a rule for myself to not force myself to post for the sake of timeliness, but to post it when it feels right. Hope you understand ❤

NOW…ONTO THE CRAFT!

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Seeing as it’s mid-to-late November now, it feels like the pumpkin spice latte has been frolicking free through coffee shops worldwide for what seems like a month too long now, BUT I have to give that darn latte some credit for inspiring me to write this post. I saw the pumpkins on TV and I decided that I wanted to craft my way towards that “oooh yay, fall is here” feeling. I am glad to report that it worked, despite the 80 degree weather here in SoCal.  But I still refuse to order a pumpkin spice latte. Bah hum bug right? Wrong holiday? Sorry not sorry.

Growing up, I remember there was a craft for every holiday. For Halloween, it was pumpkin carving. I wouldn’t say I am HORRIBLE at it…but a knife is not my art tool of choice. So this year I decided to try my hand at the non-carving approach. This is where Pinterest comes in. Coincidentally, I had to do creative centerpiece research for a fall-themed work event. While doing that, I stumbled across this pin by the blog simply happenstance and pretty  much fell in love with the idea of taking a plain pumpkin and sprucing it up with a succulent arrangement. I decided that this was it. Then I fell into the Pinterest hole and decided that a bunch of other non-carving pumpkin designs would also live on my porch this fall. The thirst for sequins on a pumpkin was real and I was highly ambitious.

As I continued thinking about the logistics of this project, I came to the conclusion that it would be financially and environmentally irresponsible to buy perfectly good succulents JUST to chop them into pieces to glue onto a pumpkin. I needed a fall decoration that would last me all season. The poor plants would die in a week or so and I would be left with sad pumpkin. No sad pumpkins allowed on my porch. So I opted for fall-colored artificial flowers.

Luckily for me, Michael’s Arts and Crafts store was having a sale on artificial flowers and I went IN. I also bought a few other supplies to satisfy my DIY fever. Sequins included. Everything I bought is pictured below. Granted, I ended up not using all of the supplies, oh well. More supplies for future crafting 😛

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So now that I had supplies, I needed pumpkins. So I recruited my older brother to join me in finding a place that was selling pumpkins this early. Mind you, I made these DIY pumpkins in early October. The pumpkin patches were barely unloading their supply. After finding pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, I was finally ready to just let my creative ideas flow. This was the result:

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I cut the artificial flowers to a workable size and used hot glue to secure them to the top. There was no particular method to the arrangement, I just placed flowers where I thought they would look good and ended up with what is pictured above. To give it a personal touch, I used black paint to create a monogram “B,” for the initial of my family name. You can’t really tell, but I also painted all three pumpkins’ stems gold to coordinate with the gold sequins I tacky-glued onto the mini white pumpkin. (I was able to satisfy my desire for a sequined-pumpkin :D)

This is what I mean by using Pinterest to YOUR leisure. I originally intended to make a carbon copy of the pumpkins I saw when I did my research. But I’m definitely glad I ended up with my own version of this trendy fall-themed project…and I think they are ADORABLE 🙂

So keep pinning my friends, just don’t forget the original reason you ventured onto Pinterest: for inspiration, not duplication. Happy crafting!

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❤ Mez

Racing Against Myself

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Running has always been hard for me. My struggle with this type of physical activity has had a way of making me feel weak, which is probably why I learned to dread it. Combine that dread with an abnormal discomfort-level of being chased, it all just added up to one thing: running was not for me (I blame my older brother and cousins for traumatizing me as a child :P). Oh and how could I forget that I was also born with a heart murmur. So there’s that.

Yet, here I am at 23-years-old, with a 10K and now a half marathon under my belt.

I’ve noticed that in the past couple of years, organized races have become a huge thing. It’s no secret that their increase in popularity is due to the recent trend-shift toward a healthy lifestyle. There’s a walk, run and obstacle course for everything these days! It’s a hot commodity right now.

Maybe I was part of that wave of individuals that came across this movement and jumped aboard. At the forefront though, I just wanted something to work towards in terms of fitness.

Getting Back-To-Basics

Athleticism has never been my forté. Growing up, I tried out and joined sports teams for different reasons other than pure enjoyment of the sport. (Mostly for the cute uniforms…) So, health was never a priority of mine until college.

Living on campus my first year of college should have been the perfect time to get acquainted with the gym since it was included in my tuition fees. However, it was still tough for me to get myself on a good schedule. Why you ask? I never really went to the gym prior to college.  The need to be “fit” was not important to me in high school and in my head the “gym-timidation” was real. In high school, I ate whatever I wanted and did not experience any negative changes because of it. (Oh, those were the days). So, when I found myself in the gym as a freshman and sophomore at university, I felt lost. I had no clue how to use anything except the cardio machines…and I never really learned much about the gym until 2015. Until then, I used free weights, classes and cardio machines…oh I loved those cardio machines.

It was only until after my first year of college when I noticed that there were a lot of factors I didn’t experience in high school that led to weight gain in college: lifestyle change, stress, not really knowing where to access healthy options, the convenience of on-campus markets…oh and did I mention stress? I didn’t even fully notice my weight gain until the end of freshman year. I’m not saying that I became overweight, but it was definitely a time in my life when I realized that I needed to start caring about myself. So, after moving out of the residence halls and into an apartment to start my sophomore year, I made it a goal of mine to really pay attention to what I ate at least.

From then, I fluctuated amongst various diets and occasionally going to the gym. I became pescatarian my second year, vegetarian for most of my third year, vegan for a bit after that, back to vegetarian and eventually transitioned back to consuming red meats and poultry when I realized that majority of my diet ended up being carbs…bad carbs. However, through all of that, the most important lesson I learned from my “interesting” eating habits was really knowing what I was consuming.

That “Vegas” Body

In 2013, it was all about turning 21 and with that came my first trip with my friends to Las Vegas “of age.” As much as I’d like to say I didn’t let the whole “you need to be Vegas ready” stigma get to me, it did. At this point in my life, my desire to “be fit” didn’t originate from myself just yet. I would learn that a little later down the road. Regardless, it was during this time that I truly saw how good working out could feel. During the months leading up to July 2013, I worked out multiple times a week, maintained a mostly vegetarian diet and I saw the fruits of my labor. I lost weight, which was the only goal of mine at the time. BUT, after that long awaited Vegas trip, I noticed that I worked out less and less, especially when classes started up again in August; my last full academic year at SDSU. The “Vegas body” goal no longer existed, so my desire to work out diminished.

Running for ME

I used school, work and my internships as my excuse to let a couple months slip by with out really working out. I delved into my work, my extra curricular activities and of course my classes. Then, when January 2014 rolled around, I decided to sign up for my first ever race with hopes that forcing myself to stick to a training schedule would garner me fitness results…and I want to say they did; but in a much different sense. It was the first time I did something fitness-related purely for me. I ran the most I’ve ever run up to that point in my life. I was doing the thing that I thought I hated so much and was so bad at. I began to understand the appeal.

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I even convinced my family from time-to-time to join me for a beach run

It definitely wasn’t easy though. I was born with a heart murmur, so a lot of my training revolved around learning to manage it, listen to it…and when to stop. (But isn’t that just like anything else in life?)

SIDE NOTE: I genuinely hate mentioning having a heart murmur. To this day, it presents itself as more of a mental block than a physical one. But when I do cross the line and push myself slightly over that edge where I feel it’s affects, it scares me. I am aware that I need to really listen to my body and not push myself too far, but at the same time I need to differentiate between my physical limitations and mental obstacles. It’s a constant struggle that I hate having to deal with. But to put things in perspective, I shouldn’t be complaining because there are a lot of people that suffer from much more serious conditions. I am definitely grateful I am able to do the things I am able to do.

Anyways, to calm my anxieties about this part of my running journey, I saw a cardiologist to get the official OKAY. I remember this doctor’s visit vividly because it was the first time I ever addressed my heart murmur as more than something my parents told me I had. The cardiologist, who also runs competitively, validated that while I do have a heart murmur, I could run the 10K. He pushed me during the tests to really gauge how much control I had over it and he was impressed. That gave me a sense of confidence I had never felt before.

When May came around, I actually felt pretty ready for the San Diego Safari Park 10K. I had so much adrenaline running through me that morning that I didn’t have an appetite (bad idea) and was actually shaking of nervousness. However, once the race started, it seemed to fly by. It was such a great introduction into the running community because everyone had positive energy pulsing through them and while running is definitely a solo sport, I felt like I was part of a big team. I was also lucky to have shared the experience with one of my college roommates and one of my best friends from back home.

Up with the confidence

After feeling so good about the race, I gave myself a little break from running and working out. I spent the summer enjoying being back in the South Bay and spending my time with family and friends. I turned 22 and was really comfortable with my body the way it was. I didn’t run much during summer 2014, but in order to stay somewhat active, I took up rock climbing with my cousins and friends. This was the first time I realized that upper body strength is just as important as strong legs. It actually makes me laugh remembering these moments of realization. DUH! Of course upper body is just as important as lower body strength. BALANCE IS KEY for everything in life.

It was during this time that my older brother introduced me to weight lifting as well. I’ve been interested in it for a long time, but always observed and never practiced. So, I started learning the basics. But that’s all. I learned a few things and didn’t really progress much. THEN, my final semester at SDSU came around. DUN DUN DUN.

Efforts to stay active

From August – December 2014, my focus strayed away from fitness as a main source of happiness to savoring EVERY last moment of my college experience. I hiked whenever I had the time to, I truly enjoyed my internship and freelance PR experiences, I tried to put myself out there more whether socially or emotionally, I went to Disneyland as much as I could, I made it a goal to increase the frequency of “yes” leaving my mouth as opposed to “no.” Which I did and I regret nothing 🙂

After I officially finished my time at SDSU, all I had was work. In order to fill my time, I joined the gym that was across the street from my apartment and out of pure spontaneity, signed up for my second race: my first half marathon.

I began running again, printed out a schedule and posted it on my wall. I told myself that I would stick to it and check off each day. On the days I wasn’t running, I worked out target parts of my body to start building up strength. It felt good to develop my own schedule that didn’t revolve around classes and school-related activities.

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I even bought myself new running shoes to bring me through my training ahead of me.

Running through times of transition

Honestly, training for this half marathon was a very on-and-off process, which I definitely paid for during the race itself. I was going through a very interesting few months prior to the race. I was only working part time, as well as continuing to do freelance PR projects on the side, but the combination did take a lot out of me at the end of the day. Additionally, I had plans to move out of my SD apartment by the end of April, so that whole process required plenty of time and effort. Whenever I made trips back home in the South Bay, I tried to sneak a run in.

By the time I was officially back in the South Bay, I veered off of my running schedule. I got distracted by the move and being surrounded by my family and friends 24/7 again. At this point, I told myself that because it’s my first half, it’s just about finishing. So I ran whenever I could…or felt like it.

May 2015 became even busier as I used those first two weeks to prepare to finally walk across that Viejas Arena stage. After the commencement ceremony, it was all about getting ready to visit Portland for one of my best friend’s 23rd birthday. Luckily for me, I was able to sneak in a run and work out while I was there to counter-act some of the indulgences I was caving into.

The busiest July EVER

June through July became very gym-oriented. I still ran, but I upped the amount of times I went to the gym, especially before I started my new internship…my first in the South Bay.

I purposefully and maybe even foolishly made July 2015 my most ambitious month in the year:

  • July 3rd: me and my older brother’s graduation party
  • July 4th: Independence Day celebration with the family
  • July 6th: first day of my new internship
  • July 7th: turned 23, celebrated with my family
  • July 12th: day trip to Santa Barbara
  • July 18th: HALF MARATHON DAY!
  • July 24th – 26th: Birthday trip to Vegas
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Butterfly Beach, Santa Barbara ❤ 7/12

 

So, with all the activities that happened prior to the half marathon on July 18th, I balanced gym and running time as much as I could. It was hard emotionally and physically because every run seemed to be getting harder instead of easier. I suffered from shin splints and ankle pain, but I pushed through anyway.

Thought process through my first half marathon

The morning of the half marathon, I was in disbelief. I just went through the motions of my pre-race routine. Woke up at 4am, changed, ate breakfast and at around 5:30am, my two best friends and I were on our way to Huntington Beach to bib pick up. It was gloomy and rain was expected, so I was relieved that it wouldn’t be hot.

Start time was 7 am and when my friends asked me if I was ready, I said I wasn’t. At that point, all the days I didn’t run and all the days I felt pain while running were on my mind…which probably wasn’t the best train of thought. When the announcement was made to gather at the start line, I was still in disbelief.

It didn’t hit me until I was about one mile into the race that I was in for a few hours of this…of running on my own. I had never traveled 13.1 miles by foot until that day. At around the two mile mark, I felt my ankles hurting already and was mad at myself. I’m glad I was able to text my friends so I could feel their support even as I ran further away from them. It wasn’t until mile three or four, (I think…all the miles seemed to have blended in my mind at this point) when I got a runner’s high. I took my time and kept repeating to myself that it was finally happening.

I even got emotional at multiple points during the race. I was alone for majority of the race since I decided to not push myself to run any faster than I needed to and it was during these moments when I was able to enjoy the view and think…a lot. Around mile eight, I actually got embarrassed when I realized I was tearing up. I don’t know exactly why I was getting emotional. I think it may have been a combination of my body yelling “hey you are tired, maybe you should sit, my mind yelling back “NO! Keep going!,” the view of the beach filled with early-risers getting their morning surf in and constantly being reminded that I was actually still running.

The second time I got emotional was when I met up with my two friends who decided to join me for the last 3-4 miles of the race. I almost cried when I saw them running towards me. Up until that point, I was telling myself “almost there,” “running with Tina and Mojo will be easier,” “when you see them that means you are more than 3/4 of the way through” and many similar thoughts. So when I finally saw Tina running towards me I thought it was someone else at first. Then I saw Mojo and it sunk in that they were with me until the end.

It was this last leg of the race that the clouds decided to clear, the temperature rose to 80 degrees and my calves decided to start giving out on me. I spent the last 3 miles running then walking, running then walking. I was so mad at myself because I felt like I was failing and every half mile seemed to go by SO SLOW.

Mind you, the whole time, Tina and Mojo were there to encourage me, to tell me that I was almost there. I appreciated all of it then and I appreciate it much more now, but during that time, I was just past that phase when verbal encouragement helped. It was all mental at that point. I almost hyperventilated at one point because I felt my heart murmur acting up. I’m glad Mojo and Tina were there to remind me to breathe and slow down.

Finishing…that’s all

The last mile and a half SUCKED. My body kept telling me to sit. Even when I finally walked across the finish line, I resisted not plopping down right there. I put on a smile of gratitude for the race organizers as they cheered for me and offered me refreshments as I crossed the line. Out of the couple of hundred people that signed up for the small race, I came in absolute LAST. Which meant the staff was waiting for me to finish so they can clean up and get out of the heat. The fact that I was absolutely last, makes me laugh at myself, but am not upset about. I don’t even remember my time to be honest. All of the combined miles I walked definitely affected my time. My triumph comes with having successfully traveled 13.1 miles by foot for the first time ever.

I was just happy to finish. I didn’t even want to do anything after that. But, in order to gain the calories back, my friends and I went to eat. Which was a bad idea at first because all I felt was nauseous. It was so hard for me to eat with out feeling like it was going to come back up. But I forced myself because I knew the shaking I was experiencing was from hunger. It took a while for my body to transition from what I call “survival mode” to “normal mode.”

After that, my friends and I went to grab boba and enjoy the down pour of rain that decided to happen AFTER the race. Anyways, I came home and was just relieved and happy with myself. All of those months of squeezing in runs, while not consistent, helped give me the strength to actually finish.

When will my next race be? I don’t know. For now, I just want to concentrate on gaining strength by putting in gym time. People have asked me if I ever see myself running a full marathon. That amount of miles scares me. I can’t fathom using my legs and feet to get myself to travel that far at this point in my life. So my answer is: MAYBE. If I would do another race, it would be another half marathon. The goal would be to not just finish, but to make decent time.

What I learned

So, what did this journey teach me? It taught me a new level of respect. I look at my medal laying beside my bib number on my desk and have never respected athleticism more. Fitness, not only running, but a lifestyle of fitness, is an amazing thing to have a passion for. Fitness is a mental and physical cycle of realizing you are weak, working the parts of your body that are weak, feeling the physical break down of your muscles, feeling the strength gained from that hard work and doing it all over again.

True athleticism to me is more than aesthetics. A person that truly lives a healthy lifestyle works out to become a better version of themselves on a daily basis. Majority of my life, I looked at self-improvement in a mental sense: self-confidence, self-acceptance, furthered education, etc. But in order to really live a healthy lifestyle, the physical must accompany that mental drive. Running is just one of the many physical activities that push you towards that sector of self-improvement. Training and running my first half marathon has redefined my idea of balance. From this point on, I will always have a deeper and more meaningful reason to stay active.

So, I encourage and commend anyone out there that has their mind set on some sort of fitness goal. It’s easy to be tempted and to stray away from working out. But, if you keep reminding yourself the reasons why you are putting yourself through the pain and effort, IT’S WORTH IT…just for the natural post-workout high and confidence boosts alone. Also, I’m not opposed to well-deserved rewards. Hence why I scheduled a celebratory Vegas trip the weekend after my race.

It’s not about the number on the scale, it’s not about looking good in a bathing suit, it’s about living a life that always looks to improve and learn…it’s a race against no one but your past self. The aesthetics are just a bonus 😉

Sincerely,

❤ Mez

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