Monday, October 9, 2017

Snow in October

https://www.instagram.com/amberibarreche/ 

Like last year, I decided to write another reflection post right before my birthday. I'll be turning 27 in exactly one week, and this year I am feeling a very similar, yet very different way about growth and change. Perhaps you will agree with me and will find solace in this post, but if you don't agree, that's OK too.

I found my first white hair last week (or shall I say, my trainer Sam did) under the already terrible fluorescent lights of the gym. I twirled the snow white strand that could have easily come from a senior citizen, as if at any moment color would return to it. Sam tried to make me feel better and have it be a celebratory moment about fully becoming an adult, but I threw it into the garbage and tried not to panic. In the span of seconds, my brain came up with different causes for having a strand of white hair before turning 30: stress from my previous job, stress from having my own apartment, genetics (sorry Mom!). But no matter which way I spun it, the fact remained that I am still getting older, and time really does not wait for anyone or anything.

As always, so much has happened this past year that I honestly don't know where to start, so I'll do my best in summarizing the last few months and how I choose to learn from it all.

To begin with, my career took an odd turn that I didn't think would ever happen. I switched from teaching high school Spanish to middle school Spanish, a decision that happened within just days in August. The challenges I faced at my last schools left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I felt compelled to make a definite career change. I had started looking for nannying/tutoring positions since the spring; the recruiter I was in communication with was super friendly and helpful, but parents weren't looking yet and wouldn't be looking until the start of the school year in the fall. I was nervous but excited about the idea of tending to one child instead of seeing multiple classes a day, so I pushed forth and sent resumes out any chance I got.

I decided to take a hostess position offered to me and figured it would be something interesting to add to my CV. In that same moment, a former classmate from both high school and college texted me that her school needed to fill a spot last minute. I initially cringed at the thought of teaching anything other than high school, especially since I was already on the verge of leaving the profession entirely; yet, she had remained a trusted friend of mine since graduating, so I sent in my resume and continued on with my morning. Not even an hour later, the principal invited me to an interview the following Monday, and something inside told me to just go and give it my best effort--at least I had a backup job. What happened next was almost surreal. The interview was a breeze (major win for being interviewed by that same friend!) and I accepted the offer from the principal that same day. I met my students and coworkers a couple of weeks later and right away, I felt like I had made the right decision.

At first, I couldn't believe I had almost given up on my career just because I had a rough time under certain circumstances and leadership. I didn't think of myself as a quitter upon leaving after the year ended, but looking back, it made sense that so many teachers had left the school after even less than a year. I miss so many of my former students, and I regularly communicate with former coworkers, but I also remind myself that places and people are temporary. Some experiences might be so damn hard while you're going through them that you will be ready to bow out early in the game, but it's important to remember that everything will change you for the better if you let it. However, I'm only speaking for myself because I know that I have a high tolerance for mental warfare, so it really depends on how well you know yourself and what you can put up with. It doesn't make you any less stronger to leave a situation (or person) that makes you constantly feel degraded or humiliated.

What does make or break you is what you choose to learn after walking away from the situation/person. As impossible as it seems in the moment, we are not at fault for the way people treat us. Yes, people can gossip behind our backs, spread lies, and generally try to criticize and judge us without even knowing us. What they see on the exterior is what they base their image of us on, and that image is a total lie. When we know ourselves--our true selves--and our purpose on this earth, that is when we shield ourselves with the ultimate truth. This truth is simple: our purpose is to love, to be love, to choose love every day. What makes it hard to do is when we allow emotions to cloud our decisions, which leads to more drama and more suffering. We want to be angry, sad, jealous, all because it's so much easier to give in to our demons. It feels good to seek revenge, to try to break down others, to demoralize them, but we only hold onto burning coal and expect to hurt others when we are really just hurting ourselves. We are no better than the next person, yet we like to gossip and create conflict because it makes us feel more powerful when we're actually feeling helpless and hopeless in our own lives.

In forgetting myself and my needs, I also allowed pain to remain in relationships this past year by choosing not to learn from previous mistakes. If there is one rule that every relationship needs to have, I think it should be to always speak from the heart. As scary as it may seem to be completely vulnerable in front of another person (friend, family, partner), you will always gain more by communicating honestly than by holding onto fear. You are only lying to yourself if you truly believe that your flaws are too much to love or that you cannot get through tough times together because you are not worthy of giving or getting unconditional love. If you really want to focus on the drama and pain, it is better to let the person go than to subject each other to fear. You just need to be honest with yourself and know what you want to eliminate further drama.

I am by no means an expert at life (regardless of the new color of hair I'll find again in the near future) and I am not sure yet of who I will become, but I am sure of one thing: I don't want a life of suffering. My interests and lifestyle might change again in the next ten years, but as long as I choose to see beyond exterior walls of lies that people tend to build, I will be living the life I want. I will be living my true purpose. I have fallen way too many times to count, made decisions in the past without thinking of others, without thinking of myself, and I have created my own walls of resentment and judgment. What hurt the most wasn't what I said or did to people, it was how I felt upon saying or doing those hurtful things because I knew I wasn't being true to me. In the end, you are the only person who could ever support and love yourself the most, so why would you want to create a hell for you to dwell in?

You don't have to wait for the end of the world to reach nirvana or heaven. You have the ability to live in it every day. The thing is, we are also living in a society fearful of its own reflection under domestication that tells us to stifle our true selves in order to suffer like everyone else. This makes it nearly impossible to be happy with who we are and the choices we make daily. Due to relentless situations and leaders, the world is living in fear now more than ever, but it also means that we need to step up to the challenge and act with kindness and compassion even more. This is not an easy time to be alive, but it can be worthwhile to face fear together and remember our true nature, our ability to forgive ourselves, to forgive each other and start over any time we wish to.

It may seem like I digressed a bit, but through all the joys and pain that I faced this past year, I was finally able to make sense of the mess. As long as I remind myself I am not the mess, but rather a force of life that can rise above it, I can be and do anything I choose. I hope that you can find comfort in loving yourself and others through the darkest moments of humanity, because you can also be and do anything you choose. The only thing that limits you is a thought, but those can always be changed.



xo

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chasing Away Some Summertime Blues

This summer is just about halfway done but it's honestly been one of the best that I've had in a while. Mainly because I've gotten to do just about everything that I wanted, both happily on my own and with my favorite people.

I have to give a shout out to my friend Jessica, the creator of Ari Rose Body Care. If you love smelling amazing and support organic, cruelty-free, sustainable, and hand-made soaps, then you NEED to check out her products. She is a fairly new business in Chicago, but she can ship all products to you if you don't live in the city. I am in love with her Skin Frosting (your legs will NEVER feel smoother with any other product!), her soaps Midnight Tide, Luscious Lux and Sunshine Day, the popular Black Butter mud mask, and My Little Secret (ladies only!). Jessica is a wonderful momma of two beautiful little girls and works hard to provide the best skincare for every woman--especially if you have sensitive, oily or acne-prone skin. I can't stress enough how grateful I am to have met this woman, and I'm super happy that she had her own table recently at the Beautious, run by Chicago Woman Magazine, an event that featured businesses providing services for beauty and style.



I finally checked out the Maggie Daley Park and there was definitely a lot to see and do. Though it's mainly known for the skating ribbon during the holidays, there are also picnic groves, tennis courts, and a climbing wall that's actually run by Lakeshore Sport & Fitness. The kids had a great time in the Play Garden, which had little playgrounds that were created with a theme (like the sea), but I think Jose had just as much fun!




I was extremely excited to see my brother play in his newly-formed band, I Am Warhol this month. They had a show recently at Livewire Lounge and I went out to support them. These guys are truly talented!







Check out their page on Facebook if you're a fan of hearing metal/rock played by some cool, local Chicago rockers.

I also checked out the Little Goat Diner on Randolph St. when I stopped by for a quick career chat with my newly acquainted friend Liz. Their omelette of the day was phenomenal, which I complemented with a small biscuit and gravy. Delicious!




That same day, Samantha and I went to Estereo in Logan Square. I pass by it all the time on my way home, so I was eager to see what it was about. I loved what I saw walking in: all of the windows were open, the bar was in the middle, tables and stools surrounded the bar and salsa vinyls were playing on a record player. The drink menu featured a lot of yummy cocktails that helped make you feel like you were transported to the Caribbean in the middle of the day!

Paloma and mojito.








On a random adventure for lunch with the bestie, we found the perfect little Argentinean spot nestled in a residential neighborhood. La Nonna provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner to its patrons; the food is AMAZING, but what also makes this place so special is the humble beauty and atmosphere inside.









It opened up about three months ago, so I do anticipate it becoming so busy there might be a wait time to grab a table soon enough.

Also, I am SO proud of my friend Abby for becoming a doctor of physical therapy. We celebrated last week at the Virgin Hotel's rooftop bar, Cerise. It was the perfect night to spend with my beautiful ladies.




I've had quite the culinary adventure so far this summer. No regrets--but no skipping out on the gym either! Sam has been making sure I work hard for each burger....

More updates soon!

xo

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How Well Do You Know Me Tag

So I was recently tagged by the lovely Samantha of The Brunette Blend for this fun, different type of post: I will answer the following 11 questions that she came up with, and then create my own questions that I want 11 other bloggers to answer. Here we go!

1. Let’s get this out of the way ASAP. *N Y S Y N C or Backstreet Boys?

This is tough! Growing up I was ALL about *NSYNC (ask my sister--I had the moves down for every music video). However, over the years I've come to truly appreciate all the bangerz that Backstreet Boys had....and boy, did they have a LOT more than *NSYNC. Sooo....it depends on the era of Dulce, I suppose. Haha!

2. Has your blog changed directions since you started?

Honestly, it hasn't changed that much. I think I started A Juxtaposed Mind in January 2016 to share whatever's on my mind, whether it's a topic about life or a product/event/musician that I love, and I'm doing just that. The aesthetics of the blog will definitely be spruced up every now and then, but so far I don't foresee the blog's goal changing drastically.

3. Who inspires you to be better?


My family and close friends. Within my support system there are certain individuals who help me pick myself up during the tough times because I've seen them rise even stronger after REALLY tough times, like my mom. At the same time, I'm trying not to depend on people for things that I know I can find within me, like wisdom, confidence and courage; the challenge now is to find inspiration in anyone/anything that I face in my life--no matter what kind of experience they bring.

4. What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

This is so millennial of me to admit, but I really do need my iPhone. I'm terribly forgetful so I put all my appointments/events/etc on my calendar; plus, I don't own an alarm clock (does anyone still have one?!) so I set them up on my phone. Oh, and I love having apps to play music on the road because I get bored quickly with the radio. Gosh, I never realized how dependent I was on my phone! Oops.



A self-proclaimed selfie addict.

5. What is your social media platform of choice?

I love tweeting

6. What is the first thing you do in the morning?


Check the time and, if it's possible, go back to sleep.

7. What have you learned from blogging?


Blogging has taught me three things: 1) That I truly love to write. Writing helps me take all the little thoughts that won't go away and put them in a designated place (in my journal, my poetry, this blog), depending on if they're private or public thoughts.  2) To be a good writer, you also have to be an avid reader. I kind of fell off from my books-to-read pile I have in my room so I'm making time to read for at least 30 minutes a day. 3) Blogging helps people interact and connect with others, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. You can definitely meet a ton of people online who share your interests/hobbies--that's the whole point of it! For me though, it's the foundation for knowing how to truly interact with people, network, make new friends, or just share whatever you want about your life or work.

8. What was the last photo you took?

This picture of Jose washing the dishes. I had just made us some delicious chicken fajitas!




9. What movie do you quote on a regular basis?


It used to be Anchorman but now it's Borat for sure. It cracks everyone up how I can change my voice to sound just like him!

10. What is one of your beauty tips or hacks?


Putting a little bit of Vaseline on my eyelashes after applying mascara. It makes them so much shinier!

11. What are the three things that ALWAYS make it into your grocery cart?


Vegetables, fruit and something made with chocolate. Hey--the first two are healthy enough! 



OK, here are the 11 bloggers I nominate for this challenge!



Jordin of West Loop Soul

Michelle of The Healthy Latina



Yanira of Yanira Garza 



Sonia of Onyx and Faith


And my questions are....

1. Where are you from originally (family too)?

2. What made you want to create your blog?

3. What's one piece of advice that you were given in the past that has really helped you on your journey to self-growth?

4. When people come to you for help, what do they usually want help with?

5. What are your travel must-haves?

6. Who are some designers you NEED in your closet?

7. What's your favorite summer drink?

8. What's one thing (or person!) that can instantly brighten a bad day for you?

9. Which selfie or photo taken by you is your current favorite?

10. Which skill would you like to master?

11. What's the best book or series that you've ever read?


Have fun, bloggin' beauties!

xo


Friday, July 7, 2017

Goodbye June, Hello July!

Hi! I hope everybody had a wonderful 4th of July! I did so much in the past week it's almost a blur. Does anyone else feel like the summer is flying by??

Last week I visited one of the most beautiful park and trail systems in Chicago, the 606 Trail. The first time I walked the 606 I started at the far west side of the trail (I think the access point I started on at was the Drake ramp) and we stopped at the Humboldt ramp. Last week, my friend Samantha and I started at the Western ramp and walked it until the end. Both times I remembered to bring the essentials: sunscreen, water bottle, and a hat!

We honestly spent so much of the walk admiring all of the beautiful houses on either side of the 606--they look like the giant houses you'd see in on a trail in Venice, Los Angeles. We also did a mini/impromptu photo shoot (she used to take photography!) and I also got some great shots of the architecture and artwork that you'll see on the 606. If you have the chance to walk on the 606, go for it--just be sure to wear comfortable shoes!








My 4th of July was spent with friends, family, and of course, lots of good food. I might also add that I did the majority of the grilling (remember, I'm doing a much better job cooking for myself these days!) and everyone was raving about my cheeseburgers!



Since this year the holiday landed on a Tuesday, we called it an early night because most people had to work the next day. But I still loved following my tradition of standing in the alley and watching my neighbors set off tons of fireworks. I don't think I'll ever get tired of that tradition; as a kid my dad would usually prop the ladder against the garage so that my siblings and I could climb up and have a great view of the fireworks twinkling in the sky, like were having our own Navy Pier show.

I had also checked out The Bristol recently for a Windy City Blogger Collective event and I had such a wonderful time meeting so many amazing bloggers--like the founder of the WCBC, Kit Graham, and this blogger/beauty queen Gaby Ramos.

I went back to The Bristol the following Sunday for brunch (remember my brunch quest!?) and it was nothing short of delicious!


I agree with the left chalkboard: "Yes way, rosé!"

Smoked ham eggs benedict.

If brunch was delicious, then I am sure that ANY meal there is totally worth checking out! Also, if you didn't notice, the exposed brick walls give the restaurant a very romantic vibe, so I definitely recommend it for your next date. Their upstairs floor is also super cute and perfect if you are looking to book a private room for any baby showers/bridal showers/wedding rehearsal dinners/birthdays/etc.

Also! I finally made my way to a Cubs game with the bestie. Unfortunately, the Cubbies weren't doing so hot... even though the day certainly was!! We stayed hydrated as best we could but eventually we ended up having ice cream for dinner.




Oh, and I have to say that this week the following albums will certainly be on repeat: the new album by Calvin Harris (featuring SO many amazing artists); the emotionally-driven and powerful debut album by the beautiful Jessie Reyez; and of course, the brutally honest album by Jay-Z.


xo

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Current Beauty and Music Favorites

It's time again for a list of my current faves! Starting with: skincare/haircare and beauty.

As I said before, I am no contouring queen, so I mainly opt for a regimen that doesn't take longer than 10-15 minutes... and that's pushing it!

To prep in the mornings I wash my face with Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cream Cleanser. Since it's pretty drying because it's so strong (and I already have issues with dry skin), I use a moisturizing, non-scented lotion with some SPF in it right after. My dermatologist recommended CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion AM, and it's been doing the job well. However, I do want to try the popularly used Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer, because while CerAve leaves my face smooth, it sometimes leaves a bit of residue--which I'm assuming is due to it having more SPF than Aveeno.

I usually don't use too much foundation either, especially now that it's summer. So I have stuck to the wonderful Stretch Concealer in Dark by Glossier that I also mentioned before: I pat it under my eyes and over any other blemishes that are bothering me at the moment, then I add some of my favorite creme blush by Honest Beauty. After curling my eyelashes, I apply my go-to mascara by Make Up For Ever.

For my nighttime skincare regimen, it's fairly basic as well. I remove any makeup with some towelettes by Pond's and wash away any leftover dirt/makeup with this scrub by Neutrogena. Finally, since I'm not getting any younger I decided to try a night cream that can nourish and hydrate my skin as I sleep. After doing some research, I went with this night cream by No7.



I also caved and got the currently sold out KKW x Kylie collection of creme liquid lipsticks.



The packaging is very cute and chic, and the lipsticks (more like lipglosses) themselves reminded me of a higher quality NYX butter gloss. I did love the shades, even though the shade Kim weirdly came right off just minutes after putting some on.


As for fragrances, I am ADDICTED to Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel. Anything by Chanel for me is a yes!!



For hair, right now nothing works better for me than this shampoo and conditioner for fine/frizzy/wavy/straight hair by SheaMoisture. I used to use this beautifully scented, weightless shampoo also by SheaMoisture but it's either not sold in stores anymore, or it's always sold out!

If frizz does arise (and it constantly does in this humidity!) I definitely use some kind of serum or cream to tame my hair. I randomly found this styling elixir with blackberry and coconut milk at Target; so far I am loving how bouncy and soft my hair gets after I smooth some on my damp hair.

Music-wise, I'm so into trancey-ish rock like Future Islands and The War on Drugs; I just let their albums play completely when my mind needs to chill. SZA and Lorde also have badass, mellow albums out that I have heavy on repeat.

Also on my list is movies to watch. I NEED to see Baby Driver (with the ever-adorable Ansel Elgort) and Wonder Woman. I know--I can't believe I still haven't seen it!

Oh, and last weekend was the bridal shower for my good friend Ana. I had so much fun meeting her amazing friends/bridesmaids and family! I also loved the bridal shower games we played, including one where you couldn't say her name or else you lost your beads.


(My jacket and shoes are from Zara. The black dress I got at Forever 21 a few years ago!)

That's it for now! Can't wait to share more updates and faves!

xo

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Sweet Start to Summer 2017

I am sooo glad summer break is finally here!!! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't counting the days, hours and maybe minutes until the last day of school.... But at last, I am sitting at my kitchen counter with the windows open, playing music, feeling insurmountably happy and relieved.

Wrapping up the school year was bittersweet; finals flew by, and with the help of some Starbucks from my coworker I put in grades at the fastest pace I've ever used. A few students were so cute and helped me clean out my room, and then we spent the last few days watching movies in my room or enjoying some sun outside. I almost cried when students came by to give me a hug and thanked me for being a great teacher. I sent that love and gratitude right back, because I will be eternally grateful to them for letting me reach their hearts and minds.

OK, tearjerker part over. Let's get to the fun stuff that I've been sharing on social media, but haven't had a chance to talk about in-depth!

Earlier this month I got to meet Robyn Lynne Norris, the creator of the hilariously brilliant comedy #DateMe: An OKCupid Experiment showing now at Up Comedy Club. It's a live stage show that depicts the totally CRAZY shit that Robyn experienced when she created 38 fake profiles on OKCupid five years ago and let nature take its course... with online dating, mind you.




I took the roomie Zoila to the show, since it was coincidentally her birthday weekend, and we absolutely loved it. I could not stop laughing!! Robyn's writing was purely honest, sweet, and comical, and it felt like she was reading out loud from her diary. #DateMe showed the crazy, funny, creepy, and surprisingly endearing side of online dating; if you're like me and have never tried online dating, this was definitely a refreshing insight on what to expect when you're looking for love on the Internet. Robyn will have you laughing for sure, but what made it an overall humbling experience were the real bits and pieces of her life that she wasn't afraid to show to complete strangers--which, to me, made the show that much easier to connect with on a human level.




Ultimately, the FUNNIEST part of #DateMe was when the hilarious cast sought out two audience members. Robyn's crew had me and Zoila honestly crying from laughter as they used the feedback from the volunteers to create material right then and there for the show.




After the show, Robyn was down to chat/take pictures with me and fellow bloggers from Windy City Bloggers. Then it was time for drinks!




Be sure to check out #DateMe if you need plans for a date night, girls/guys night, or if you just want a feel-good laugh. Huge thanks to the beautifully talented Robyn for the tickets and the experience; her future in comedy writing will surely be taking her places, and I can't wait for the day I see her as a creator/writer for a new comedy television show, or on SNL as the next Tina Fey!

Speaking of good shows, Zoila was kind enough to take me with her to see Phoenix at the Aragon Ballroom. Holy mack, those guys know how to perform. I thought I loved Thomas' voice just on my speakers but there is nothing like seeing Phoenix live. I just about lost it when they played my forever-favorite song from their "United" album.


Besides hitting up fun shows, I've also been trying to expand my knowledge of brunch places because, let's face it, you're not properly "adulting" in Chicago if you're in your 20s and not out enjoying a good brunch every now and then.

I checked out Quiote in Logan Square not too long ago for their mezcal drinks in the bar below the restaurant and I loved the scene/music that the DJ was playing. It was low-key enough so that it didn't feel like a club, but at the same time it's a dope little spot to be at with friends or a date--especially when the limited number of tacos came down from the kitchen to be sold for cash only around midnight (I snagged some, of course!).

So last weekend, I went on a whim for their brunch menu and again I was not disappointed. The servers were sweet, I fell for the minimalist decor, and the food was on point that I almost ordered half of the menu.


The oven where the baked goods were toasted to taste fresh!

When the food is cooking right in front of you...


Iced latte.


(The only thing not pictured was my flaky, warm, chocolate croissant, but believe me when I say that was scrumptious too!)

Are there any brunch spots you have to rave about too? Let me know please!

This month we also celebrated Jose's birthday early with some karaoke--or shall I say, with our amateur bachata performance to Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." On his special day we went out for some steak and piña coladas at this delicious Argentinian restaurant, El Nandu. Then we walked around the corner to play some pool and arcade games at Emporium and yes, I did beat him at every single game we played........ kidding! He kicked my butt at ALMOST everything, since I did have a pretty cool comeback while playing foosball.






June's been proving to be fabulous already, and I am genuinely excited to see what more adventures I can partake in with my favorite people. Also, I intend on writing some more thoughtful pieces on relationships, love, or just life in general, so I hope you are open to reading that as well. Talk soon!

xo