#DACA

Earlier today, President Trump announced his plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that allows for thousands of young undocumented immigrants to remain in the country.

DACA was formed through an executive order by President Obama back in 2012. It allows certain people (the Dreamers) who came to the United States illegally as minors to be protected from immediate deportation. Recipients are able to request “consideration of deferred action” for a period of two years (which is then subject to renewal). Congress now has up to six months to find a legislative alternative after it was announced that new applications will no longer be accepted. For those currently in the program, their legal status and other DACA related permits (i.e. work permits) will begin expiring in March 2018.

Dreamers are able to request DACA status if 1) they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012; 2) they came to the State before turning sixteen; and 3) have continuously lived in the country since 2007. Dreamers must also have a high school diploma or their GED, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school.

There are an estimated 800,000 Dreamers in the United States. Most Dreamers are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras; with the largest numbers living in California, Texas, Florida and New York. They currently range in age from 15 to 36 years of age, according to the White House.

With this new executive order, Dreamers will all lose their status by March 2020. As their statuses lapse, they could be deported and sent back to countries of birth many have no familiarity with. Trump has referred to DACA as “illegal amnesty,” arguing that those in the country illegally are lawbreakers who hurt native Americans by taking their jobs and increasing crime.

We know better.

Dreamers are our friends and loved ones. They are leaders in our communities. They work hard. They’re good people. They deserve to be here- after all, that’s what their parents wanted for them. A better life- and Dreamers deserve to live such lives here in the United States.

I encourage you, dear reader, to contact your senator and demand that they fight for Dreamers. On the local level, discover if your city is a Safe Haven for Dreamers and find ways to help (hit the streets and start volunteering!). Together, we stand with DACA and will show the world that we are a nation who comes together instead of being forced apart.

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#WithALittleHelpFromMyFriends

The Three Musketeers- plus one!

Where would we be without our friends, dear reader?

Friends are a necessity. They matter. They are a priority. 

I’ve always realized the importance of friends. We may doubt our decisions and abilities but our friends will never do so. They see us in the ugliest appearances and situations of life and yet, they still decided to stick by. They’re the cure for loneliness. Friends accept and love us for who we are. Good friends will push you to be your best. Check on you when you’re at your worst. They will be there when ish hits the fan. Invest in your friendships. We’re not meant to do life alone- good friends are there for the long ride. If you have good friends, the kind of friends who would bail you out of jail in Tijuana at the crack of dawn, know that you are blessed.

With Telaia, my BFF from Brooklyn

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves, after all. There is a recent study that says friendship maybe be more important than family or your significant other, especially as we age. Friends are a major life influencer– they really do help us live better, more healthier lives. If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself. If you have a “best friend at work”, you are seven times more likely to feel engaged in your job. In my life, listening to my friends saved me a lot of anxiety (especially during key break ups). They always can always see something in me that I can’t see within myself.

Lately, my friends have been my saving grace- talking me through terrible panic attacks; opening up their homes for hanging out and watching hours of “Stephen Universe;”  getting me out of the house to try new things like Buddhist mediation; laughing with me  over cups of coffee, Indian food and bottles of hard cider.

Today, let’s cultivate our friendships. It’s Labor Day. Many of us have the day off. Today is a good day to reach and spend some time with a good friend.  And to all the friends in my life- past, present and future- thank you for your love.

#KeepFightingTheGoodFight

To those dealing with lots of negativity from strangers, from your loved ones, from your job, from the news, from the world, from yourself- I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

If you’re feeling stuck in life, feeling directionless, depressed and confused- I’m with you. Keep moving forward. Keep fighting the good fight. 

To those who are working incredible hard; sixty, seventy hour days, and are tired. And those unemployed or underemployed, praying that they could work so much- I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight. 

If you’re sick, physically and/or mentally, or are caring for or watching a loved one who is ill struggle in pain- I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight. 

To those who are repairing relationships with their partners, with their families, with long-lost friends; if you know this relationship may be wrong, toxic and you need to end it-  I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

If you just got out of relationship of any kind and are mending your heart. If you’re feeling lonely and alone without any support-  I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

To those who have lost everything or feeling like you’re about to-  I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

If you’re feeling hopeless, as if everything is wrong, and and that your life is one incredibly large mess-  I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

To those who are trying to simply make it through another day without any tension or crisis, trying your best to keep it together- I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

If you have taken on more than you can chew. If you’re feeling the weight of your world on your shoulders-  I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight.

To those who are trying their hardest to better themselves and make their dreams come true; who know that the future will be a better place for all and something good is just around the corner (even those who are wishing on stars and dreaming BIG things in your head)- I’m with you. Keep fighting the good fight. 

Keep fighting the good fight, dear reader.

#SelfCareSunday

After a rough “breaking news” weekend like this one, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. We all need some sort of self care. When I feel the worst of the worst, that’s when I know that I need to step back and focus on bringing me back to a place where I can think clearly and rationally.

Self care takes various forms. I turn off my computer and my phone and focus on me. I take showers- LONG showers (close to an hour). Often times, I will stand under the water and mediate, trying to think about nothing.  I’ll watch an ASMR video or something mindless that will make me laugh. I’ll grab my cat and snuggle. I’ll push myself to get dressed, get outside and hang out with good people (a little bit of exposure therapy, if you will). I will do whatever it takes to get out of my head.

But self care does actually mean taking care of yourself physically, as well. I learned this trick on the playa at Burning Man. If you’re feeling off, ask yourself these three questions: Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you tired? What does your body need? I feel a 1000x better when I brush my teeth, giving them a hard scrub. I feel a 1000x better when I drink eight ounces of water. I feel better when I take my vitamins. I get out of my head and focus on my body.

Millennials have been accused of focusing too much on self care. But let’s be real- there is nothing wrong about taking care of yourself. We’re raised to think we should always put others before ourselves and ignore our own needs; that it is somehow arrogant or selfish and not a nice thing to do. But Just think how they tell us to put on our oxygen mask first on an airplane before we help others. Yes, absolutely support others, but nurture yourself first.

How do you take care of yourself, dear reader? And don’t forget to treat yourself- treat yourself well (#TreatYoSelf2017!)

#AnotherWall

Creative constipation. Oh poo.

I’ve been struggling with writing these last couple of months. It’s a rare moment when my brain blacks out and stops racing but lately, no matter how long I stare at the computer screen, nothing comes to mind. Although this is a welcomed moment of pause, not writing (whether it’s a blog post, an freelance piece or even a to-do list) is foreign to me. Writer’s block just doesn’t happen.

However…

Creative ruts happen.

How do we overcome writer’s block? The ‘net is filled with suggestions: Write an outline. Type down every single idea floating around; small and big; silly or smart. Be like Ron Swanson and start typing every word you know. Step away from your laptop or your yellow legal pad to take a walk and clear your head. Have someone else read your work and give suggestions. Maybe grab another snack…

Breaking my own writer’s block down further, a lot of mine has to do with self-doubt. I feel like I don’t have much to say anymore. Perhaps it’s the recent roads I’ve been traveling on of late- I stopped feeling interesting. I’m like a dentist pulling teeth, searching for something profound to write. It is in those moments- when I nearly have a panic attack, combing my memories for something to blog about- that I take a step back and remind myself that it’s okay to take a break. All writers go through these blocks. I gently remind myself that you’re still a writer- a good writer- and something brilliant will come to mind soon. You’re just taking a break; you’re not giving up.

What do you when you’re in a creative rut, dear reader?

#EveryoneHasAStory

For the last couple of years, I’ve sat on the idea of creating a web series, gathering snippets of people’s lives and telling their story. Honestly, I’ve wanted to do this since my early 20s- I just never really believed in myself and thought I could create quality and compelling work. But a switch recently happened and I realized that this is something I really want to do.

Skyping with Saffeya

Saffeya is a jill-of-all-trades. An official Brooklynite, she’s worked in various positions ranging from healthcare to real estate to software coding. Saffeya explains how a certain career setback brought her closer to her mother.

“I was working two jobs. I started to notice very quickly that I was burning out. I was working about 60 hours a week, to the point where one day, I just missed work. I lost my job. I felt bad. I felt dirty. It was the first time I failed at something. I started to lose my way and I gave up on myself; I just gave up. I sat down with my mom and told her that I didn’t want to try anymore. She gave me money to cover my bills. I don’t know what I would have done without a supportive mother. I love my mom.

It took someone else believing in me. We all go through similar life cycles. I’m glad I had those experiences because I learned a lot about myself. We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. We need hardships; we need to make mistakes.”

As I figure out software and find people to interview (volunteers, please!), stayed tune, dear reader, for future video posts.

#LondonLoveLessons

I snapped a photo of this beautiful sculpture along the Thames one cloudy afternoon but I know nothing about it- do you know its name and creator?

World, I am in love. With London (among other things and other people…well, one particular person).

I’m a woman obsessed with cities. With their people and various cultures and sub-cultures. With their different styles of architecture. With their various cuisines to sample. With the simple fact that you can turn a corner and see and experience something new. Although I tend to get lost in massive metropolises, the thing that I like about cities is I can always find something new about myself.

I came to London with love on the brain, to visit my partner, Stephen, and to see if I could develop a taste for London life. We sat at Sunday roast together with friends; our elbows bumping as we ate (me trying not to look like an animal as I shoved as much lamb and Yorkshire pudding into my mouth as possible). We ate dinner with his close friends, Jimi and Lucinda. I noticed the cute, small things that they did to remind each other how much they love one another. During dinner, I thought about mine and Stephen’s love story- especially about how obsessed I’ve been about holding his hand over the last couple of months of long distance and how I finally got to feel its warmth.

In London, I learned a lot about love. The love I have for my partner. The love I have for myself. I learned that love stories can be small regardless of physical status (either with a man, city or otherwise). I grew up with Disney princesses and in the golden age of romantic comedies (“Sleepless in Seattle” is one I keep reflecting on), thinking that you need to proclaim your love from the tallest of towers, over the radio wires, at the top of your lungs, to anyone who would listen. You don’t. The smallest tokens can mean much more. Respect. Trust. Understanding. That’s love- the love you have for a significant other and the love you have for yourself.

Each love story is different. One of the biggest challenge I face is comparing the various love stories I experienced my life (as well as the evolving love story I have with myself)- they are all different but they are perfect in their strange little way. Each love story deserves a chance to pan out in its own special way. There is no need to force things. Just remain open and let things happen. Just let love envelope you- and when you do, love will really embrace you without a thought or question. I felt this way when I lived in New York City (despite having intense, awful moments with the city) and I feel this way about London- just let it love. The sites, the people, the food, my darling Stephen. Let love be. And let love in.

(But I do- REALLY- hope to make England my permanent home one day.)

Tell me your love story, dear reader- your love story with a person or otherwise…

#China

Life happens when you’re busy making other plans… Ain’t that the truth?

For the last couple of months, I’ve been gearing up to teach abroad in China. I was busy getting my affairs in order, saying goodbyes and practicing my Mandarin. I was excited to step out of my comfort zone to do something that I have always dreamed of doing and I saw myself a success.

But life doesn’t always go to plan. After a few setbacks and some heavy thinking, I decided to not go forward with teaching abroad. I had issues obtaining my Z Work Permit and unfortunately, missed a deadline for my credential approval (many things were lost in translation, which I take complete responsibility for).

Surprisingly, I’m not beating myself over this lost. Yes, I’m a little sad. Yes, I’m a little anxious. But I am also  proud of myself for trying- and I will continue to try. I may not end this year in the Red Dragon but it could happen one day. I will continue to try, working on my TEFL accreditation, exploring other options, keeping an open mind during this new timeline. I know that one day, I will be abroad (VERY SOON!), living out the dream currently in my head. I won’t let this setback hold me back.

Until then, if you know of any job openings, dear reader…

#Curveball

I will be a NY Yankees fan for life!

I believe it was Woody Allen who once said, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans… And oh man, God must be in stitches when it comes to me.

One moment, I thought that I had everything planned- work, save some money, travel abroad. That is now not happening.

But that’s okay!

After a week of setbacks, It took me a couple of days to calm the storm in my head. For a brief second, I thought the plans I worked hard for were ruined. I sunk into a mini depression for two days, mourning their loss. When I finally woke up, I took a deep breath and told myself that you’re going to be okay. Shit happens. You can wish for things to be different in the future but at this moment in time you have to accept things as they are- and they’re not that bad. It’s really not the end of the world.

So, when life throws you a curveball, you hit it out of the park. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade (or add tequila and bit of salt..). You just keep moving forward. The curveball you were thrown set your goals off track. Now it’s time to set new goals for yourself and get to work on achieving them.

#DifficultRealities (Part II)

After reading my last post to my therapist, she recommended that I counteract all the negative things I wrote about myself with a love letter. I do have a lot of good truths in my life and about my personality that I choose to overlook. Even though I spend 24/7/365 with myself, I spend little time actually taking time to build that positive relationship with the  inner me- you have to make that attempt, she and everyone else say.

Well, here goes nothing…

Dearest Andrea,

I seldom tell you how much I love you. How much I admire you. How beautiful and caring, intelligent and strong you are. That you are my hero.

I took you for granted and dishonored you. I said you’re not enough. That you will never be enough. That if you were only a better student, a better daughter, a better friend, a better writer, a better lover- then, I would love you. If you were smarter, more confident, prettier, more social, skinnier, more assertive, nicer- then, I would respect you.

You are brave. You’re a babe. You are a badass. You just forget that some of the time.

I love your courage- courage to cry, to leap, to give, to receive. When your heart breaks, you allow it to open you. When you heal- and you always heal- your heart grows bigger and stronger.

Thank you for trusting your heart over your head even when it means taking a risk, stepping into the unknown and embracing uncertainty.

I catch you dreaming for hours about a better world. You’re always reading, always searching for more knowledge, always expanding your skills, always longing for more awareness. There’s always something going on in your mind: this mixture of hopes, dreams and ideas that no one knows about. It’s a secret garden only I know the entrance to and this garden is magical.

I love that you like to be funny and that nothing fulfills you more than making people laugh. You’re empathetic and feel people’s pain before they need to tell you anything. I love that you feel the world’s pain as your own and how hopeless it makes you feel sometimes.

I love that you’re an open book and share your fears and dreams with the world. I love you even when you shut down. You will sit with it, let yourself cry and just be there. You are beginning to be more conscious of your thoughts and your words, learning to fill them with kindness rather than hurt. You are taking the time to learn more about yourself and are recognizing the importance of it.

You know that you’re not perfect- you will never be and that’s okay. What you need to remember is that you’re loved and appreciated. Being so is far better than being perfect.

You have “Be Your Own Hero” written on a Post-It above your bed. Looking back at that, hell yes- you are your own hero. You are my hero.

No one will ever be as happy that you exist more than I do.

Keep fighting the good fight. You are worth it. Your life is worth it.

Love you for eternity,
Andrea

(And dear reader, when’s the last time that you wrote yourself a love letter?)