End of the year lessons on traveling alone by Krishna De La Cruz

As 2019 comes to a close I am reminiscing on my favorite accomplishments this year. One of the scariest yet most rewarding things I did was travel alone for the first time.

About two years ago I felt like everything had fallen into place for me after a lot of work, and I couldn’t see how anything could go wrong. Then, of course, life happened. I got some earth-shattering news that turned life as I knew it completely upside-down. Though things are better now, it’s taken me a lot of work to deal with the aftermath and  get to where I am today. Having had the rug swept from under me really forced me to look within myself and desperately want to grow as a person and be better to everyone around me, especially those I love. As part of my growth, I decided to create new personal challenges by doing things I wanted to do, but was afraid of doing. Traveling alone sounded so daunting, but it was something I really wanted. I’d grown up traveling with my family every year and it was something that meant a lot to me and that I saw as a bonding experience. Because I’d traveled a lot, I thought traveling alone was doable for me and I really wanted to know what it felt like to just be completely alone in a completely different place and survive.

On turning an idea into a reality

The idea of traveling alone came to me at the end of 2018 and I decided to write it down in my journal, in which I’m also writing this, and I’ve written a shit-ton this past year (highly recommend). I was absolutely terrified of actually doing it on my own, but wrote the idea down with hopes that putting it out into the universe would somehow make it more real. A couple of months later, I picked the place—Portland, Maine—the original yet lesser-known of the Portlands. It seemed like a small enough place that I could get around without much transportation, and feel safe. And I’d seen pictures of its autumn on socials, and it looked beautiful. I’d never seen a New England fall, which I’d wanted to do ever since I was little and saw pictures of deciduous forests in geography textbooks.

Once I’d written it down, I started talking to people about going on this trip. I acted as if I was going even though I was still scared and had no intention of actually booking the flight any time soon. Again, I figured that putting the words out into the world would make it more real, make it actually happen eventually. And it did.

It took me about 8 months to actually do it, but one day in August, a whole eight months after first writing it down, I woke up one morning and I booked the flight for September, around my birthday. A gift to myself. I have no idea when the fear left me or when I started to feel ready to do it, but it just happened.



All I can say about Portland is it’s beautiful, quiet, peaceful, quaint, oh so cool, and it changed me, like any new experience does.

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I journaled a lot while there, I hiked, I walked the ins and outs of town until my feet hurt, I laid on the grass in the sun, I sat on a bench by the seaport and listened to a man play saxophone, I read, I ate lobster, I stayed at a BnB of my dreams, I cried, I laughed, I stood at the top of a lighthouse and looked out into the ocean. I also firmly believe I brought the Texas heat with me because it was an unusual 80 degrees for the time of the year. I promptly watched the sunset every night and went to bed early. My favorite two experiences though were getting stranded at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and sitting on the Western Promenade every evening to watch the sunset.

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On getting stranded and surviving

Yes, one of my worst nightmares came true on this trip. I got stranded at a state park with no phone or car. But it was one of my favorite things because I learned I can survive. I’d wanted to do some hiking, but had not rented a car since I didn’t really need one, so I took a 30 minute Lyft to this park. There were plenty of people hiking and even a school bus with kids that were on a field trip. I felt pretty safe but somewhat on alert. I had overestimated my phone which now had low battery and I didn’t have a charger. My phone died about a mile into my hike, but not before I got to sit on some rocks by the ocean and get to truly admire the park’s beauty. I knew I had to get back to the main entrance and start figuring out how I was going to get back into town. My goal was to find a park employee. The walk back to the main entrance was only a mile and a straight shot. I retraced my steps on high alert the entire time. What if I don’t find help? I was truly alone. There was no one I trusted. But yet this is what I’d wanted for myself. I wanted to be truly alone somewhere I’d never been before and I wanted to survive it. Eventually I did find a park ranger named Andy—an older gentleman who had worked at the park for almost 30 years. He helped me get back into town where I was able to charge my phone and get a Lyft back to my BnB. The lesson I learned from this experience was—you’ll survive. Just stay focused, stay calm, think logically, and buy a phone case that doubles as a charger (I have one now!).

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On watching the sunset

Watching a sunset in Portland is an event. Every evening, people walk outside their homes toward a grassy area by the bay called the Western Promenade. They sit on the grass, alone or with others, and just look at it in silence. So I did it, too. It’s hard not to compare this event to the city life that I’m used to—where the sunset is always just in the background of whatever else you’re doing that evening. In Portland, the sunset is the thing to do. It made me want to be more mindful of it here in Texas. Texas has such beautiful sunsets and I think I have to stop and enjoy them more. Portland is a quiet town but its message couldn’t be louder: stop, slow down, and be present.


As I sat on the grass watching the sunset, I put my earphones in and I started writing in my journal. I wrote was I was seeing, what I was feeling, what I was thinking because the moment was so beautiful and I was alone and I didn’t want to forget it. I cried because in that moment I felt so accomplished and all I had was the sunset and that was enough. The lesson I learned from this experience was appreciate the world’s beauty and recognize your own milestones. Despite how hard life gets, the world is here for you and life is so beautiful.



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Krishna de la Cruz is currently an attorney living in Austin, Texas. She grew up on the Texas-Mexico border in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Minor in Spanish from Texas State University in 2014 and Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law in 2017. While in law school, she was an Executive Editor on the The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review for Race and Social Justice where she wrote an article focused on the issue of violence against women, particularly women of color. The article is titled “Exploring the Conflicts within Carceral Feminism: A Call to Revocalize the Women Who Continue to Suffer.” During law school, she traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico, where she was certified in Mexican Legal Studies at Universidad de Guadalajara.

In her spare time, Krishna enjoys reading, journaling, and hiking Austin trails. Krishna is a big enthusiast of mental health, mindfulness, physical wellness, and her Mexican heritage.


We’ve all dealt with that person in our lives who exudes negativity or brings your energy levels down in some way. It’s natural to want to stay friends or acquaintances with this person because most of us don’t know how to express that, well, they are being toxic and they need to stop it. If you’re dealing with a toxic person in your life, check out the following tips. I hope they’re helpful!

Tip #1: Know that this toxic person has issues with themselves, not with you.

What they say and do is a reflection of who they are and what they are feeling. Some people have unresolved anger or are predisposed to negativity. Some of them are completely narcissistic. Many of these people act on those feelings because they either don’t know any better or feel that hurting you will make them feel better. This is called insecurity. Reassure yourself that so long as you haven’t done anything to hurt this person, the toxicity they are emitting has nothing to do with you.

Tip #2: Remind yourself of who you are and what kind of person you are.

Chances are you’re a good person who is kind and compassionate, along with many other great attributes. This is easy to forget if you’re constantly being told or made to feel the opposite. You are not a bad person. You have no reason to dwell in negativity. It’s important not to lose sight of this because the moment you do, it makes it so easy for this toxic person to take advantage of you and your feelings. Remind yourself constantly of everything good you have to offer and hold on to that like your well-being depends on it, because it does. Make a list and keep it handy when you’re having a moment of weakness.

Tip #3: People change. This includes you. Accept that.

Sometimes we stay in friendships or relationships we have outgrown because we’re afraid of letting go. We believe that because we became friends with a person when we were twelve, we owe them our time for the rest of our lives. This is simply not true. While it’s admirable to have loyalty to someone, it’s not okay to keep being loyal when it’s producing self-harm in the form of negative feelings. You don’t owe anybody your time or friendship. Recognize that you are different people and it’s perfectly normal to go your separate ways.

Tip #4: You’re not going to please everyone. And that’s okay.

There’s a saying that goes, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there will still be someone who does not like peaches.” This means that no matter how good or kind or friendly you are, someone can still refuse to like you. Plain and simple. So why waste your energy trying to win somebody over? Instead, use that energy on people who love and energize you in return. 

Tip #5: Confront this toxic person.

I don’t mean you have to get aggressive or obnoxious in your confrontation. This simply means you can do something as straightforward as asking them if there is a problem you don’t know about or something that is bothering them. You can also tell them straight up if something is bothering you and why. Sometimes there is no other solution than to address the elephant in the room. Talk it out, but remember to remain calm and objective.

Tip #6: Set boundaries.

I am very adamant about things that I don’t want to talk about, and it’s easy for me to shut down a conversation or action I don’t feel comfortable with. But this takes practice. It’s completely okay to tell somebody, “I don’t want to talk about this” or “I don’t want to do this.” If they ask why, you have absolutely no obligation to explain why. “No” is a complete sentence. Boundaries are healthy and necessary so that people who feel they want to take advantage of you do not walk all over you. And if all else fails, at the end of the day, sometimes all you can do is ignore or possibly even block this toxic person.

How to get over a break-up (Or some ideas on how to try)

There’s no sugar coating it. Break-ups suck. They FUCKING suck. Whether the break-up is mutual or not, break-ups are bound to cause you some (maybe a lot of) heartache. They will definitely cause a change you may or may not welcome. And they will cause a shit-ton of confusion. And ain’t nobody got time for that.

Because I am a huge nerd, whenever I have gone through a break-up I have desperately wished a how-to book on how to get up and get over your now ex-partner existed. Now that I’m a little older and just a little tiny bit wiser, I have made some realizations about this whole break-up mess that have helped me power through the heartbreak and endless barrage of questions.

I obviously know that everyone’s breakup is different. Thus, this article will only help so much. Unfortunately, by the time you finish reading this article, you will not be over your ex (but here’s to hoping). These are things that worked for me. Some may help you, some may make you say, “You have no earthly idea what you’re talking about.” All your reactions are okay. And it’s totally okay that you are here in the middle of this moment of what feels like despair in your life. It’s all going to be okay, I promise. (Cue all your “fuck off” eye-rolling reactions here, but keep reading).

  1. The beginning of the end is the hardest, and it will get worse before it gets better. Accept that now.You’re here. It happened. Shit has hit the fan and you are now forced to have everything around you change. There’s no running away from it. So embrace it. The scariest part is the unknown, not the actual being alone part. I’m not going to lie. Typically, it’s going to hurt more and harder before you start feeling better but if you’re armed with that knowledge now, you won’t be surprised by it. Be comforted by the fact that it happened and guess what? The world didn’t stop spinning. You didn’t stop breathing. You didn’t lay down and give up. It hurts like a bitch, but you’re still standing.
  2. Spend a lot, a lot, A LOT of time with people you love and who love you back. Did I mention a lot?
  3. Reconnect with YourselfRemember who you were before this break-up. Remember who you wanted to be. Remember who that little girl or little boy or little human dreamed of becoming. Are you still in touch with that dream? What can you do to get back to it?
  4. Reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. Hell, make some new friends!I feel that I have always been blessed in the friendship department. I do have a lot of friends I love and that have stuck by my side. And thank goodness that they chose to stick with me. Whether it’s intentional or not, when you’re in a relationship, you tend to neglect your friends more often than not. At least I did. I neglected them entirely too much. But when I came out of the relationship, my friends didn’t miss a beat. They were there to catch me when I felt like shit. They made me laugh. They didn’t call me out for not hanging out with them as often as I used to. And that made me love them even more.
  5. Try things you’ve never done before or things you’ve always wanted to tryTry a new recipe (or just learn to cook something if you’re anything like me in the kitchen) or take up learning to make cool cocktails or sign up for classes to learn how to play an instrument. Just get out of your head and busy yourself with something new.
  6. Ask yourself who and what kind of person you want to become.Then spend a lot of time discovering ways to become this – your highest and best self. Journaling helps so that you don’t forget your goals and ideas. Talking to a therapist helps. Meditating helps.
  7. Try not to date right away.Go back to #6. You can’t figure out who your highest, bestest true self is if you’re sharing your time and amazing personality with someone else. Remember, in order to give to others, you must be overflowing yourself.
  8. Don’t tell yourself you’re over him/her/they if you are not. It’s okay not to be.You’ll get there. The day will come when they are not the first thing that pops into your head in the morning. There is no rush to be over this person. Take your time healing. Also, remember that healing is not a fast, magical, relaxing time. Healing is painful and dirty and hard. But healing makes you stronger.
  9. Don’t call them. Don’t stalk their socials. Out of sight, out of mind. Stalking them will never bring you joy, so why even do it? Block, block, block!
  10. Work on that negative thinking so you don’t get eaten alive by anger/negativity/depression/sad shit in general!Okay, I’m going to get a little personal here, but I have to do so in order to explain how this vital step works. When I started recognizing that I was finally getting over my break-up, I began noticing that little venomous thoughts about my ex would creep into my brain. These thoughts would then snowball into more and more negative thoughts until I was fucking pissed about things I remembered or some new scenario I had created in my head that wasn’t even real. Then I would get mad at myself because I would remind myself that THIS RELATIONSHIP IS OVER AND NONE OF THIS MATTERS AND I WASTED TIME EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS. Other times, just my ex’s name would pop into my head and a slew of curse words would follow because I was livid. Again, I felt angry at my waste of energy on these thoughts. It was a vicious cycle.
    • I began to be more patient with myself. When a negative thought came into my mind, I tried to catch it as early as possible, take a deep breath, and tell myself it’s okay to feel angry but I had to let this thought go. Imagine your thoughts are like clouds. You can’t control them as they come into your head, but you can control how much you focus on them. Just because a thought comes into your brain, it doesn’t make it true. Make it a point to observe these “clouds” and just let them pass by.
    • Bonus challenge: I talked to my therapist about this and she encouraged me to take it even one step further. Whenever I had a negative thought and my anger would come tumbling out right after it, rather than just observing my feelings and moving on with my day, she told me to stop and also ask myself, “Why do you feel this way?” Then I had to answer my question so I could validate my feelings. For example, if I thought, “Homeboy is a really bad dude” (but in much more explicit and unsavory terms that I will not get into here) then I had to answer, Why is he a bad dude? And then I would think, “Because he did or didn’t do so and so and it really hurt my feelings.” I know this sounds like a lot of work, but this process helped me realize that my feelings of anger were justified and understanding why I was angry also helped me realize that sad part of my life is over and I’m content right where I am because I no longer have to deal with it.
  11. Talk to a Therapist.I honestly don’t shut up about this, I know. I’ve talked about finding a therapist before. You can check out that article here if you’d like.
  12. Just be sad.My biggest problem has always been the fear of sitting still in the silence and letting the waves of sadness completely wash over you. That sounds poetic, but it’s actually the most hurtful shit ever. You gotta feel it to heal it. And, again, a lot of us are under the impression that healing is magical and full of candles and incense and flowy clothing. But healing is hard work. It’s dirty and rough and you have to dig through the mess to find the root of your pain to make that pain stop. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to sit with your heartbreak, because if you don’t, it will catch up to you and manifest itself one way or another, in multiple different ways. It can manifest itself through misplaced anger or in your next relationship. Some days are going to hurt like hell, and some moments are going to feel like you can’t even breath because it aches so much. Some days you’re going to cry more than you thought you possibly could. You will ugly cry, you will cry loudly, you will cry in the shower. Just accept it and let your body react the way it needs to. All of that excess energy needs to be released, so don’t be afraid of it. There is a misconception that to cry or to feel things equates to weakness, but I think that’s completely wrong. Allowing yourself to face that pain is what makes you brave. Knowing your heart is going to crack in different places and being courageous enough to say, “I’m still going to feel this and accept it and honor it” is what allows good change to happen. Growing up hurts, and accepting changes hurts. But being strong enough to endure it instead of running away from it is what makes all the difference and allows true healing to happen.
  13. Forgive them and have compassion. This one is HARD! How do you forgive someone who  broke your heart and why would you even want to anyway?! Here are the answers: You forgive someone who broke your heart for yourself, not for them, and you forgive them by finding compassion for them. I still struggle with this, but it’s a constant battle I try to win. Staying angry with someone and refusing to forgive them is a slow poisonous death to you, not to them. Release that pain by remembering this person as a child – they know not what they do. I know that’s weird, but it’s easier to have compassion for someone when you remember we’re all just out here trying to do our best. You may not like this one, but I promise it’s the most rewarding one.
  14. Be grateful.Be grateful for life. For your health. For every moment. Life is so beautiful and full of adventures. Don’t stay stuck in this one bad thing that happened. Learn from it, release it, and carry on being mindful that this will only help us grow.


The Truth About a Broken Heart

There’s something to be said for having a broken heart. A broken heart sucks, but it’s also a gateway to brand new beginnings. This may just be me, but the last time I had my heart broken (and it was really broken – I mean shattered), I also felt deep down a tiny tinge of excitement and relief. That may have something to do with the kind of relationship I was in, but regardless, I looked forward to what lay ahead in the unknown just a little bit.

Life can set us back in the most unexpected times and knock us down when we’re least expecting it. Instead of laying face down on the ground, though, we can take these experiences as opportunities to grow. And growing hurts. Growing isn’t easy, that’s why some people stay stuck in the place where they’re at for the rest of their lives. But we don’t have to stay stuck. We can make the decision to keep moving.

It sounds simple to tell someone to get back up and back in the game after a heartbreak. The truth is that it’s easier said than done. In order to keep moving, we have to take baby steps into the new unknown. There was a time when I was knocked down after going like what seemed 100 mph. I had been exercising consistently, eating cleaner, meditating daily. Basically, putting a lot of effort into really taking care of myself. Then the storm hit and I got thrown way off track. I barely had the energy to get out of bed without crying, let alone exercise, cook, meditate, and write. There have been times in the past when I got knocked down like this, and before I knew it, a year had passed me by and I was still not taking care of myself. I decided that wouldn’t be the case this time, and I would get back to my self-care habits. But I still didn’t have the energy to do so, and the pressure to get back to it just kept building.

What I realized during this time was that it takes a lot of tiny steps to start feeling normal again. Instead of jumping right back up and kicking it into high gear, we need to get up slowly. We need to dust ourselves off and start walking, not running. I did this by spending time by myself and re-aligning. By re-aligning, I mean I mostly sat around with my dog, read books, and watched (cried to) a lot of Queer Eye. Your re-alignment may look different, but all it is is to spend time doing something you love and that doesn’t require a lot of effort. You’ll get back into the swing of things eventually.

That’s not to say there won’t be fear and doubt that you’ll experience along the way. A broken heart takes time to heal, but that doesn’t mean you have to be sad the entire time. Change your perspective and find excitement in your new path. You’re going to have new adventures, meet new people, try different things. You get to meet yourself again, free of anyone or anything that was holding you back before. Even if you weren’t being held back, you still had someone to answer to. There was something to account for, but not anymore. And that’s a good feeling when you really think about it. You get to create yourself – who you are, what you like, what you wear, read, watch, etc. and creating is not boring. There will still be tough times, but you’re tough, too. A broken heart can show you just how strong, creative, powerful, independent, and compassionate you can be. Learn to embrace it and reconstruct slowly but accordingly.

Positive Self-Talk To Practice Daily

I know I’m not the only one who has the habit of calling myself “stupid” or “an idiot” whenever I don’t get something right. Negative thoughts are ingrained into our brains whether we make a conscious decision to think about them or not. Most of the time, these thoughts are so severe that we don’t even notice we’re saying them to ourselves.

We may not be able to control the negative messages as they pop into our heads, but we can learn to become aware of them and change them over time. It takes a lot of work to even become aware of these thoughts, but once you make the decision to notice them, you will. Slowly, but surely.

Here is a quick list of phrases you can start practicing today:

Instead of: calling yourself an idiot because you did something “wrong”…

Try saying: Everybody makes mistakes. I’m only human. My mistakes are part of my learning experience and they help me improve.

Instead of: calling yourself fat…

Try saying: I am grateful for this body that I have. I will do my best to take care of it. I am learning what I need to do to take care of my body.

Instead of: comparing yourself to others…

Try saying: I bring something different to the table, and that is [blank]. I accept myself as a unique and worthwhile person.

Instead of: thinking you are worthless…

Try saying: I have so much to offer. My life has meaning and purpose. I have a lot to be proud of.

Instead of: believing you have nothing to contribute or worth saying…

Try saying: My experiences are unique to me. Nobody else can speak about them, and only I can tell my story.

Instead of: convincing yourself you should be doing more or doing better…

Try saying: I am completely lovable just as I am today. I am enough here and now. I will continue to change and grow from a place of self-acceptance.

Instead of: saying you’re not smart enough…

Try saying: I will learn how to do this.


Letter to You- You Are Doing Great!

Hi there.

I know you are scrolling Instagram, double clicking away. Or maybe just lurking. Or maybe you’re comparing. We tend to do that a lot — compare ourselves to other people on the ‘gram. We compare our pictures, our bodies, our jobs, our families, all of it! Most of the time, we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.

I’m not here to tell you to stop it. You do you, boo. I’m just here to tell you to become aware of it so that it doesn’t become harmful to you. We fall into these traps where we see a flawless picture of someone or an award they post or a promotion someone just got and we think, I should be looking like that/performing like him or her/working as hard as they do. We think we need to be doing better or doing more. But why?

I’m here to tell you that you’re just fine just the way you are. You’re better than fine! You’re you! There is no other person out there that is you. Even if you’ve been sitting on your ass all day watching Netflix. Even if you haven’t washed your hair in six days. Even if you’re underweight or overweight or you just failed out of college or you don’t have a job right now. None of these things make you less worthy of love, appreciation, and compassion. There is no need to keep comparing ourselves to others to become better. Work on yourself, for yourself, and things will fall into place. I know this sounds very generic, but it’s also true. When we focus on ourselves, we begin to make things happen. We simply have to desire it enough to work for it.

Nobody is posting the struggles or shitty pictures on those Instagram squares. It’s only for the highlights, so there’s no need to feel bad over it. That shit about being “on” and looking flawless all the time is NOT real. You don’t need to look like anyone other than you. So relax, maybe wash your hair when you’re ready, and enjoy this life being yourself.




One Goal You Can Make This Month to Benefit Your Mental Health

  1. Establish a morning routine. This can mean sitting with your cup of coffee and meditating, reading a devotional, writing in your journal, working out, or all of the above! Morning routines are essential to starting your day off with your head on straight instead of waking up and immediately running around. Wake up a little earlier if you need to, but make sure you’re dedicating the time to YOU and only you.
  2. Try to workout at least three times a week. A workout doesn’t have to be intense to count as a good workout. Just get your body moving. Whether it’s taking a long walk, doing twenty minutes of yoga, or running around playing with your kids or your pets, just get active.
  3. Write in a journal. You can journal about anything! If you’ve never journaled before, here are some ideas:
      • There are exercises called “brain dumps” in which you simply “dump” everything going on in your mind onto the paper. Don’t worry about punctuation or your handwriting. So long as it makes sense to  you, just write it all out. It will feel like a weight off your shoulders. You can leave it as is or go back and think of solutions for each issue you’re facing. Write those down, too! The point is to clear your mind.
      • Write about your day. You don’t have to start with “Dear Diary.” LOL. Just write about anything interesting that happened or how your day went.
      • Write things you’re grateful for. This can be in a quick list format or emphasize some details. It will make you happy to go back and read them.
      • If you can’t think of anything to write, look up quotes that you like and write those down for motivation!
  4. Try meditating. Start with three minutes if five or ten minutes seems too intimidating and work your way up! Meditating in the mornings is recommended to start your day off calmly and remind you to breathe.
  5. Read a self-help book.Reading in general is good for your mental health, especially when winding down at night to get to bed. To get you started, check out You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. Get ready for all the feel-good feels.
  6. Drink more water. Before you go to bed, place a cup or bottle of water on your nightstand so it’s easy to hydrate first thing in the morning. Yes, you’re going to pee a lot when you hydrate more, but that’s good! It means your body is releasing all the toxins.
  7. Incorporate “greens” into your meals. I read somewhere that for every meal, you should aim to have four things: greens, protein, fiber, and a healthy fat. Start slow by incorporating some green foods into your day, every day, even if it’s not with every meal. This will benefit your health and you’ll feel good about making even a small difference that’s good for you.
  8. Practice affirmations. Write them on sticky notes and tape them all over your room, apartment, house, car, wherever! Say them to yourself over and over.
  9. Get more sleep. Sleep is soooo important to feeling your best! If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, get off your phone and stop watching t.v. two hours before you plan to be in bed and start winding down. Take a bath, light some candles or a diffuser with some essential oils, or read to get your brain into rest mode. Chamomile tea is also great for sleeping!
  10. Spend time outside. Even if it’s just ten minutes for a short walk or sitting in some sunlight, being outside does the body and the brain good. Don’t get on your phone, either. Just relax a little and enjoy the sunshine.

You Will Be Happy Again

Recently, I was reading through my journal. The first entry is from less than a year ago, but there’s a vast difference between that entry and my most recent entry. In my first entry, I was experiencing real heartbreak. I was sad and upset and hurt, but I was trying to keep my head up. I remember writing that entry. I remember where I was and how I felt. And it felt like absolute shit.

At the time, everything around me felt dark. It was heavy, and I was an emotional wreck. Fast forward to my most recent entries and you’d think a different person wrote them. I can’t stop gushing about how happy I am and how free I feel. It’s light, it’s positive, it’s exciting.

But what struck me the most is that when I wrote that first entry all those months ago, I was sure I wouldn’t get over my feelings of sadness and despair. I couldn’t imagine what being happy felt like. And yet, here I am — happier and more liberated than I’ve ever been in my life.

Isn’t it strange how time does heal wounds when you’re not thinking about them? Or when you are thinking about them twenty-four hours a day? Time is still working in your favor, no matter what. Yes, I’ve been working on myself these past few months, but no, it hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t been a great day every day. It’s been a roller coaster. And yet, I have made it past a really dark part of the forest.

I read a quote once that said I had to honor myself every day… every day is not the same so I cannot be the same every day either. We expect to feel a certain way every single morning that we wake up, but to expect ourselves to believe we do not change or go through several emotions as the hours go by is to restrict our feelings from working themselves out. It’s okay to feel and be different every day that you wake up.

So I’m just here to remind you – it may feel impossible today, but you will be happy again. It may feel like you’re never going to laugh again, but your stomach will hurt from rolling over with laughter one of these days. The day will come when you’re going to smile and it won’t be fake. You’ll feel that smile lighting up all of your insides.

Things get dark, but the sun rises every single morning. If you keep going, if you keep looking within yourself, and if you look back to see how far you’ve come, you’ll notice that you’re doing much better than when you started. Hopefully, you’ll also notice the time and space around you at this moment and how once, you may have prayed for all the things you have now. It’s a good day.

My Three Favorite Work-Outs That Don’t Stress Me Out

Working out is supposed to be a form of relieving stress, not piling it on. You know what I mean. Trying out a new gym or some trendy new workout studio can be intimidating. You don’t know what to expect. You feel like everyone in there might already be a pro. Will everyone know you took a three month break from your last workout?

I also can’t tell you how many gym memberships I’ve had that I stopped using because I have no clue what to do with those machines and because there’s no way in hell I’m going to go work out with the guys in the weights section. Props to you if you’ve overcome this! But if you’re inconsistent about exercising like I am and still find it challenging, know that you aren’t alone.

For the last two years, I’ve stuck with the following and actually look forward to working out (what?!):


I attend Black Swan Yoga in Austin, and I absolutely love it. It is hot yoga, which I used to hate at one point, but I’ve become used to it. Also, sweat dripping down my body makes me feel accomplished as hell. Like, damn. I am a super sweaty yoga goddess (even if I can barely hold any given pose).

What I love about yoga the most is that the entire point of the workout is time you make for yourself to focus on yourself. You aren’t there to check out other people’s poses or talk with your friends. You’re there to meditate and feed yourself spiritually and physically. After every yoga practice, I feel calm, relaxed, free, and proud of myself.

If you’re barely starting out, I recommend a beginner’s or all levels vinyasa yoga class. Hot or not is dependent on you. I don’t push it on anyone because it doesn’t suit everyone. And no, you do not have to be physically flexible to try a yoga class. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard, “I can’t do yoga because I can’t even touch my toes!” Good! That’s the point. Everyone is at a different level in their yoga practice and it’s called practice because the more you do it, the more flexible you can become.

Oh, and if you really don’t feel like attending a class, try YouTube for Yoga with Adriene. She has all sorts of yoga for anything you might be feeling for as little as fifteen minutes.

Orange Theory

As someone who was consistent in her cross-fit regimen back in the day, Orange Theory feels like cross-fit but just one level less intense. AND I LOVE THAT! I loved cross-fit, too, but honestly, for me it felt stressful going into a WOD (workout of the day) every day because I just knew I was about to die trying. It’s also worth noting that I’m afraid of lifting (very heavy) weights over my head because I am a clumsy individual and I get hurt a lot. Enter OT.

Orange Theory is an hour long workout that includes both cardio and strength training during every. single. workout. Every day is a different workout, and while there is a diversity of training equipment, there are no bars to lift over one’s body. It’s a group workout, which I’m a big fan of because nobody’s eyes are only on me and the coach isn’t yelling directly at me. We’re all in this together! And in one hour, I’ve knocked out both cardio and strength training and nobody laughed at me while I did it.

Yes, the workouts are intense, but they’re not so bad that you have to say a little prayer before you begin.

Jogging Outdoors

Finally, jogging. I am a wannabe runner. I’m that person who begins training for a half-marathon (hell, I have even paid to enter) and then gets to six miles and doesn’t run for another six months. But despite my lack of consistency (I’m beginning to notice a trend on this post), jogging outdoors is so relaxing. You can put on your favorite music, or not. You can run fast or slow. You can even meditate. Seriously, I do walking meditations sometimes and they really chill me out.

I hate running on a treadmill. I know, Orange Theory is fifty percent running on a treadmill, but they change it up so much that it doesn’t feel boring. If I have to run on a treadmill, I’m bored out of my mind with nowhere to go. Running outside is so liberating. It feels like when you were a kid and you played on the playground. Or like you’re running away from all your problems. I typically imagine the latter.

How I learned that hating my body was an immature act (and I had to grow up)

Do you ever see pictures of yourself from a few months or years ago and think, “Wow, I was so thin!” And do you remember that at the time, you thought you weren’t thin at all? This happens to me frequently. I see pictures of myself that are pretty recent and I remember being so unhappy with my body at the time. I remember all the negative thoughts, like thinking I was too big, too soft, too bloated. Then I see these pictures some time later and I think, I looked really great. Why did I waste so much time being so hard on myself about the way I looked?

Insecurity about our bodies is not a new issue. It’s something we constantly struggle with, and I mean that for both men and women. I used to believe that men never wrestled with body image, but over the years, as I’ve become more aware of the negative self-talk that exists about body image, I’ve heard men make some pretty sad, self-deprecating comments about their bodies as well. They’ve been unhappy, too. A lot of us are!

I’ve read about studies of little girls as young as age six talking about diets they want to try or commenting that they don’t want to be fat. This breaks my heart. I guess in this sense I’m “lucky” that my body image issues didn’t start until I was about age twelve. This is around the time puberty hit and all of a sudden, my body was doing its own damn thing and I felt like a passenger on its crazy train. But from the time I began to worry about what my body looked like until very recent years, the effect of trying to achieve a thin, lean figure has been so damaging to me.

I’ll take it back a little bit. I don’t believe anyone had a good time in high school, and if you did, you’re lucky. As dramatic and angst-y as it sounds, I hated high school and you couldn’t pay me to go back. I’m grateful for the harsh lessons that were learned, but dear Lord, I dreaded walking down those halls every day. It felt like I was always being scrutinized, and I wanted so badly to look good while being scrutinized! I guess I thought if I was pretty enough or thin enough, it would lessen the blow of the mean things people would say. When I started the ninth grade, I was exercising numerous times a day and I simultaneously got sick (unrelated to the exercise). This caused me to lose a significant amount of weight and I felt good about myself. People noticed, and I was happy. Later on that year, I put the weight back on. Mind you, I was never fat or even overweight. I was just an average looking girl. But it got back to me that an upperclassman cheerleader had said, “Dania gained weight, right?” I remember that day so clearly. I remember the cheerleader’s name to this day. I got home and cried and refused to eat the rest of the day. I fought with my mom because I took my anger out on her, as teenagers do. I remember crawling under the covers of my bed and thinking I never wanted to come out. I just wanted to wrap blankets around my body and never have to show it to anyone again. I felt so ashamed and disgusted with myself. It honestly breaks my heart thinking about it now. I see pictures of myself throughout all my years in high school now and I was, dare I even say it, thin the whole time!

Fast forward to the years after I graduated from college. I went to Boston for my first year of law school, and I became so anxious and depressed that I had to withdraw after I finished my 1L year. Because I was so depressed, I had begun losing a lot of weight. When I moved back to my hometown in the Valley, I didn’t have a job and I wasn’t going to school. So, I took up cross-fit. And I loved it! And I got pretty good at it (if I do say so myself. Nobody else said so, except my coach. Once.) I also auditioned for a semi-professional dance team and made it. This meant I was working out five to six times a week doing cross-fit. I had dance practice twice a week. The dance team also gave us a free gym membership, and we were required to go workout twice a week in addition to dance practice. (Yes, they checked to see if we fulfilled this requirement each week). I would start my cross-fit workout at five a.m and then dance practice or gym time (or both) later that day. So what did this mean for me? It meant I was suddenly in the best shape of my life. Not only was I leaner than I had even been in high school, I was strong. I was fitting into clothes I hadn’t even fit into when I was twelve years old. I was down about 25-30 pounds and I loved the way I looked in a bathing suit, and/or my very small dance uniform.

So that’s it. Obviously, at this point of my life, I was ecstatic with happiness, right? My whole life I thought if I were thin and built and beautiful, all my self- esteem issues would go away. And is that what actually happened? NO.

I remember weighing myself every day and night and freaking out if there was even the smallest increase in my weight. I remember sitting at a family get-together once, and my cousin told me, “Stop touching your stomach! You think you’re fat, but you’re not!” I hadn’t even realized I had been fidgeting the whole time, trying to suck it in and touching and touching my waist. I’m not going to pretend I hated this whole exercising like crazy experience. It actually taught me just how capable my body is of doing things that I never thought possible. It taught me that I was strong and I had stamina. And honestly, ever since then, I may not exercise as intensely, but it is something I will always do.

But at the time, even though I was happy with my body, I hated myself because I hadn’t finished law school and I didn’t have a job. I was living at my dad’s house, and I felt like a failure. My self-esteem was shot.

Fast forward and I’m in law school again. I went from exercising every day, sometimes three times a day, to exercising once a week if that. School stressed me the hell out, and I neglected taking care of my body so that I could put that time into studying instead. When I did make some free time, it was to see my friends and go out for drinks. Definitely not to exercise. So, of course, I slowly gained all the weight I had lost over the years.

And guess what? I hated myself again. Now I was in law school, working hard for my dream, but I wasn’t skinny anymore. So, of course, that made me a huge, unattractive failure in my eyes.

Do you see the vicious. fucking. cycle?

I am just so tired. I’m tired of hating my body because it can’t be thin and toned during the times I want it to be. When I was in law school, I would cry and hide under the covers like when I was in high school for the same damn reason. Wasn’t it time that I grew up and stopped acting like a scolded child? Why do I have to be ashamed of my body, like it did something wrong? My body is beautiful, not offensive.

It has taken me several years to finally reach the point that I’m at now. That point is to stop hating myself and my body because I’m not thin. When I’ve had relationships end, I’ve thought, “Maybe if I were skinnier, he would have stayed.” When I’ve been happy in a relationship, I’ve thought, “What if he cheats on me with that girl because she’s skinnier and prettier than I am?” When I’ve dated someone who can’t stop singing praises about my body and tells me that I’m beautiful every single day, I’ve thought, “He’s just saying that because I’m his girlfriend and he feels obligated to.”

The truth is you will never be happy with yourself and your body until you decide to be. We will always feel we can be more toned, more muscular, more fit. Some people are trying to gain some weight or add some curves. But at what point will it be enough? Why are we so unkind to ourselves now? And who decided I had to look a certain way to be worthy? We keep striving for this ideal goal and without knowing it, we believe that once we reach it, everything will fall into place and we will never have a negative thought about ourselves ever again. But that ideal goal just does not exist. Or it does, and you’ve already reached it. You just have to decide.

We are so accustomed to calling ourselves “fat” or “not skinny enough” or “ugly.” We are accustomed to seeing someone disgusting when we look in the mirror. We are so accustomed to those things that we will not recognize when the moment comes that we realize we are actually just fine as we are. Even if you decided today to never make a negative remark about yourself for as long as you live, your brain will still make those remarks for you because we’ve trained it to be that way. It’s wired to be an asshole. We have to reach a point where we fight back. We have to reach a point where we grow up and stop accepting society’s lies about our bodies, like scared little kids who believe anything you tell them.

This is where I’m at now. As much as I love to preach body positivity, it does not mean that I see no flaws when I look in the mirror. I’m not going to lie – I’ve come a long way and I can’t help but love the person I see in the mirror these days (Hey, girl, hey! I see you feelin’ yourself!) But it took me a lot of tears and self-loathing to get here. I had to make a conscious effort to look in the mirror and say, “I love you. I love your legs and your stomach and your super round cheeks.” And I had to do that every time I wanted to say the opposite, or every time my brain was automatically saying the opposite for me.

Could I stand to lose a few pounds? Sure. Am I going to feel like a disgrace until I do so? Nope. Do I even want to make an effort to lose the weight? To be honest, no. I love to exercise, I love to run, I adore yoga. I also love to eat tamales and I adore buffalo wings, and I don’t own a scale. I feel good about myself. You should, too.