Dreams

What do any of our dreams really mean?

We try and decipher them, make sense of nonsense, have them fit into these frames, make them seem cut and clean.

Thankfully our thoughts while we are lost in slumber are beyond our control.

Yet we pick them apart, with understanding what they are trying to tell us as the common goal.

But what if there is no rhyme or reason but rather simple everyday thoughts taking place?

The hardest thing is when we know we are having an important dream yet when we wake up, it’s gone; leaving not even a trace.

The good news is those thoughts are still present within our minds.

So go get ready for your next dream, take a warm bath, tuck yourself in and close the blinds.

For All the Moms

This is for all the moms,

Who were overcome with emotion on the day they found out they were pregnant.

Who accepted the challenge of creating a human being within themselves.

Who sacrificed their bodies in order to carry us around for 9 months and would do it all over again in a heart beat.

Who withstood the unbearable pains that child labor creates and somehow came out a stronger woman with that sound of our first cry in the hospital room.

Who were scared out of their minds that first night out of the hospital and settled in at home. Is there a manual for this?

Who spent weeks on end with little to no sleep because I was apparently a very hungry child.

Who watched us grow from these tiny, helpless infants into curious and mischievous toddlers.

Who were there to kiss our scraped knees as children, our first scraped hearts as teenagers and for the rest of our lives.

Who bathed us, clothed us, fed us, got us to school on time every day and still somehow managed to be a full-time employee aside from being a full time Mommy.

Who 16 years after giving birth, laid awake at night yet again scared as hell, this time without us, the first time we were behind the wheel and out with friends.

Who allowed us to follow our dreams, wherever that path may take us, because ultimately our happiness makes them happy.

Who constantly shower us with unconditional love which we then go out and share that love with others, all the moms are single-handedly making this world a better place.

Who effortlessly show their children everyday the meaning of true strength, elegance and beauty.

To all of those women out there raising children or who have kids that are grown and out in the world chasing their dreams, today is your day. I want you to really think about all that you have sacrificed for us and all that you continue to do for your children. I hope you truly realize how appreciated and adored you are by them, whether they tell you enough or not.

To my mom, you are the most incredible woman I have or will ever meet. You inspire me to be my true self and show me every day the kind of woman I aim to be. You are the most selfless person I know and for that, I thank you. On some days you are my best friend and on others you are my worst enemy but everyday you are my Mother. I am eternally grateful that out of the 3.5 billion women in the world, I get to call you Mommy.

I love you more than anything and today, like everyday, I am thankful for you. Happy Mothers Day!

The Countdown Is On

What is it about having something to look forward to that makes dealing with your day-to-day problems, that much easier? The visualization of a countdown towards a certain date is motivating and gives us hope for something incredible that we know is awaiting us in our future. Whether it be towards your next day off, a concert you’ve been waiting for or your dream vacation, that countdown makes it all the more exciting along the way. The last few days leading up to that marked day on our calendar bring us so much happiness because we know we are about to rewarded for our patience.

My countdown has officially begun for my return back to my favorite city in the world, Barcelona.

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As of today, I have 15 days left in my other favorite city, San Antonio. After spending 44 days (yes I counted) in Spain last year, at the end of my trip I was getting close to my 90 allotted days within the Schengen Zone. For those that are wondering what that is, as Americans, we are allowed 90 days during a 180 day period of travel visa free, within 26 countries in Europe. The Schengen Zone includes Spain, so while I am legally not allowed to be there more than three months at a time, thanks to this 90/180 rule, I can be there without a visa for up to 90 days, which is a pretty sweet deal.

After spending the last 5 months at home in Texas, I am eager for more travel and new life experiences. Anyone who knows me will tell you that summer is my favorite time of the year. I live for those endless beach days laying under the sun and the late summer nights that turn into early mornings surrounded by your favorite people. As February and March of this year seemingly flew by, I kept going back and forth with my plans of what I wanted to do for the summer. When I left Spain in December, I left with every intention of going back as soon as possible. One night a few weeks ago I was laying in bed, still sorting through different options, when out of nowhere, something just clicked for me, suddenly that indecisiveness was gone and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I bought my plane ticket 5 minutes later. I went to sleep with the biggest grin on my face that night, probably dreaming of tapas bars and fresh sangria.

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I think I ate here 3-4 times a week, at least. Yum.

Something I often get asked from people is how I manage to not get homesick or miss my family when I am away for long periods of time. It’s almost as if they somehow assume that my family is low on my priority list. Of course I get homesick but when I am in each new city, I manage to make a little home with the people I meet. I create these memories there with those new friends that have made me think of the word “home” differently. I will always be from San Antonio but over my lifetime there will be many different places that I refer to as home and that is 100% okay with me. As of right now San Antonio, Chicago and Barcelona are all different variations of home to me and each bring something into my life that the other cannot. I think that is a beautiful thing.

Now that I have nothing to do but wait for my departure date, my mind is constantly running wild with ideas of what the next three months of my life are going to look like. All I know is that I will be living with some of my friends there in Barcelona, working for one of the coolest hostels I have ever stayed at, Hostel One Paralelo and the rest is up in the air. That is just the way I like it, thrilling and mysterious. As far as goals for the summer, I hope to come back fluent in spanish. I intend to practice everyday and am going to stick to that so I can hold my own in conversations with not only the locals, but my family back home as well.

My countdown to May 9th and the Spurs playoffs is what is keeping me going for the next two weeks! If any of you reading this are wondering where to go for your summer vacation, feel free to come visit me in sunny Barcelona, you have my word that we will have the best time. Not to worry, Spurs-Nation, I will be supporting my boys throughout the playoffs from 5,000 miles away and definitely make a huge deal about them at the hostel. I am even taking my Spurs flag with me in my pack! As for my family here at home, I will be back to annoy you before you know it. To my friends there in Spain, I cannot wait to be reunited with you all, very soon! If anyone is looking for me in the next couple of months, I’ll be the girl at the beach with a mojito in her hand.

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¡Salud!

 

All My Love,

Valerie

Fear of the Unknown

Have you ever dreamed of just disappearing from your life as you know it for a few days in hopes of reigniting the inner flames within your soul? There comes a time when the daily routine you are accustomed to is no longer enough to sustain your happiness on its own, and that’s okay. That is when we turn to the hidden wonders of the world in search of inspiration and passion.

It is human nature to seek out adventure and to chase after that exhilarating high that we only get to experience when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones. For each of us, that zone looks slightly different and that is part of what makes life worth living. We are each on our own separate journey through time and space. When you finally take that leap into the unknown, you will be surprised what was waiting for you out there the whole time.

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Chicago, August 2012

Over the past couple of years one of my main goals has been to constantly force myself into new and strange situations. I love to shake things up beneath my toes and to always stay in motion in search of my next breathtaking destination. If I am in one place for a certain amount of time, I begin to feel that unavoidable curiosity that always creeps back into my life. I welcome that familiar feeling with open arms and always allow myself to explore whichever direction I am feeling drawn to at that moment.

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Amsterdam, October 2015

This goal of mine has led me to some of the most unbelievable places in the world. At 23 years old, I have visited 12 countries around the globe and have no intentions of stopping there. Last October, I took off with two of my best friends for what was supposed to be a six-week backpacking trip throughout Europe and The UK. When we arrived in Barcelona, I felt those inner flames ignite once again. There was something different about that city and I simply could not bring myself to leave. I never made it to the last three destinations of our trip and I extended my stay in Spain by one month. That has to be one of my best decisions to date. I will never forget the feeling I had the day that I skipped my flight back to the states. I was surrounded by my Hostel One family and in a completely foreign city, I felt entirely at home.

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Barcelona, November 2015

My love affair with travel started at such a young age. I remember driving down to Mexico with my family and meeting all of my cousins on that side for the first time and being in utter amazement at our cultural differences. I loved listening to them speak in spanish even though I could not understand what they were saying, hearing that language buzzing all around me was vibrant and exciting. I couldn’t get enough of it.

My parents always used to take us on road trips when we were little kids. One summer we drove all the way from San Antonio, to Washington DC, to New York City, to Chicago and The Carolinas. On that road trip, I heard my first New York accent and could not understand how this guy spoke differently from me, when we were from the same country. It was remarkable to my 8-year-old self; accents are just as fascinating and mesmerizing now at 23, as they were back then.

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New York City, July 2001

I was lucky to be raised by two people who value and appreciate what traveling does for a person. When I was 16 years old, I took a trip to France with about 60 students from my high school, lead by our sophomore World History teacher (Hi Mr. Harris)! That spring break changed my outlook on life indefinitely. I was swept away by everything from the new foods I was experiencing, to the live music I was hearing in the streets, to the Parisians simply enjoying a glass of wine on their patios. I was in love with all of it. That was when I knew that while it was my first time in Europe, I would be coming back as soon as I could.

Looking back on these memories, my parents were single-handedly expanding my comfort zone. They were taking me from my familiar San Antonio setting and immersing me into various cultures and lifestyles, by doing this they were erasing the fear of the unknown from my mentality. Whenever I am getting slack from people about my constant urge to travel to far away lands, I like to teasingly blame my parents for being the ones who introduced me to this nomadic lifestyle in the first place.

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Paris, March 2009

What that spring break in France made me realize was that my current existence was just this tiny dot on a map. My entire world as I knew it would never be the same because I now knew from firsthand experience that there was so much more out there to be seen, appreciated, admired and loved.

I often get asked when will I get a “real job”, when will I settle down, or when I will stop living my life like this… whatever that means. My only answer to those questions is, hopefully never. I dream of one day being a writer who can work from any destination while simultaneously expanding that so-called comfort zone of mine. The day that I cease to be the curious wanderer that I am, will be the day that I stop growing and challenging myself as a person.

Once you have shared a meal with someone from a different country, or had an eye-opening conversation with a stranger in a foreign city, you no longer generalize countries as a whole and you begin to see people as the individuals that they are. This new-found outlook changes the way you perceive the daily news. You are no longer reliant on the media outlets as your only source of information but instead you have real life experiences to base your opinions of current events off of.

It is so easy to be scared and manipulated by the media about all of the recent acts of terrorism but it is crucial to remember that the moment we all stop traveling and cease to explore the beautiful world that we live in, is when we let those guys win. When we begin to live our lives in fear of another attack, rather than pushing forward in solidarity, is when we stop living and start simply existing. When we settle into our ordinary existence and accept that as our reality, is when we no longer are rewarded with that exhilarating sensation of stepping out of our comfort zones.

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Amsterdam, October 2015

All My Love,

Valerie

Your Average Day Miracle Workers

As I am sitting here in the hospital room, lost in my thoughts, both of my grandparents are exhausted and are taking an afternoon nap. Nurses are popping their heads in every half hour to make sure my Grammo is on the fast track to recovery after her knee replacement surgery a few days ago. Each of them seem so genuinely worried and kind, in hopes of keeping her spirits high during what is often a difficult and frustrating time for patients. Watching the way they look after her, I caught myself smiling at their concentrated attentiveness and admirable compassion towards this complete stranger. Shortly after that enlightening observation, I can’t help but think, why are hospitals so often seen as such a depressing place?

I can practically hear you guys whispering to yourselves, “because people die there!” and of course, you are not wrong. Everyday there are those who lose their battles to whichever disease they were unfortunately dealt by the cards of life.

I, too, am one of those people who used to see the hospital as a depressing environment. As if the sight of those fluorescent white hallways that reek with the nostril searing combination of Clorox and urine isn’t enough in itself to make you feel ill, you are surrounded by people who are fighting for their lives. Nothing will ever put things in perspective quite like witnessing someone struggle to breathe on their own, something so simple, yet obviously necessary, that we all take for granted daily.

When I was in the fourth grade, my Grandma Elva was taken from us after an aggressive strain of Stage 4 Stomach Cancer spread throughout her body like wildfire. I vividly remember laying in bed, cuddled up with my Mom one night, both of us were crying and my wide-eyed innocence was painfully evident when I asked, “Mommy, is Grandma going to die?” Oblivious to what the word cancer actually meant, my 9-year-old self was probably equating it to having a cold or a bad fever. It was exactly six weeks from the initial diagnosis to her devastating decease.

That was in November of 2001.

In October of 2014, my Grammo was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer. Upon receiving this news from my Dad, I had a flashback to thirteen years ago and instinctively thought, “Oh no, not again…Luckily enough, the doctors were able to catch her cancer very early on. She underwent a Lumpectomy, to remove the cancerous cells from her body and endured a month-long treatment of radiation in hopes of one day becoming cancer free.

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In August of 2015, at her six month check up post radiation, the doctors were able to tell us the words we had all been waiting to hear, Mrs. Vasquez, you are one hundred percent Cancer free!” 

I think that was the moment that changed my perspective on what really goes on within these hospital walls. Every single doctor has dedicated anywhere from 11 to 16 years of their life towards educating themselves in the world of medicine, all for someone else’s benefit. They have voluntarily set their own personal lives on the back burner in hopes of helping save the lives of countless strangers throughout their career. The things that they are capable of doing and overcoming in the medical field with modern-day technology paired with their brilliant minds, is nothing short of a miracle.

These miracles happen every single day and a lot of the time, they take place in the operating room. Each and every person you see running around in scrubs and white coats all day long, are a crucial piece in this immense jigsaw puzzle that cohesively creates the hospital. In order for any of their jobs to be successful and make sense, the other people have to be right there beside them, vigorously working away as well. At the end of the day they all have a common goal, to save as many lives in the most efficient way as possible.

It is all too easy to take our clean bill of health for granted and it usually takes something hitting us close to home to remind us that nothing is ever guaranteed. After losing one grandma to Cancer and having a major Cancer scare with the other, I have never appreciated doctors and nurses more for everything that they do for their patients.

I strongly believe that we all have our time to go and when that time comes, there is nothing we can do to avoid it. I know that while death is inevitable in this very hospital in which I am sitting, there are doctors out there right now who are on the brink of medical revolutions. That comforting thought alone makes hospitals a little less depressing and a lot more inspiring.

It is so important to understand that for every family receiving a heartbreaking ending to their story like my Grandma Elvas, there is a doctor somewhere else extending the years on someone’s life, like my Grammos. For every patient who flatlines in the operating room, there is a newborn who was just delivered, taking in their first breaths of life. For every person who unexpectedly passes away in their sleep, there is someone who arose out of a coma, shocking everyone and against all odds.

Remember, not all super heroes wear capes, some opt for scrub caps and white coats. To those dedicated people, I would like to say- thank you.

ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" - Season Nine

“It’s a beautiful day to save lives!”

-Derek Shepard

All My Love,

Valerie

The Struggle is Real

 

Besides the summer months, spring has always been one of my favorite times of the year. Between spring break shenanigans, family time on Easter Sunday, fresh bluebonnets on the side of the road and the beginning of NBA playoffs, what is not to love?

Up until three years ago, that was my naive outlook on what springtime consisted of.

During my junior year of college in March of 2013, my entire world was flipped upside down in what felt like the blink of an eye. In reality, it was a slow demise over the course of a three-week period that lead into Easter weekend. I began to lose control of everything that mattered in my life and I had no idea why any of this was happening to me.

My relationship, my classes, my tennis career. Everything fell apart before I even had the time to realize what was going on or the chance to ask for help. I was blind sided by this horrendous illness and was left feeling like a mere shell of the person I once was.

I was 20 years old when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar-Disorder. What I was experiencing that spring was my first severe manic episode.

That was exactly three years ago today and I have come a long way since then. Once the aftershock of my diagnosis wore off, I began to research and educate myself on this illness. Bipolar disorder is something that nearly 10 million Americans are affected by. The more facts and figures that I read up on, the less I felt like I had just been served a life sentence. I began to see this diagnosis as a challenge and decided to use the manic highs and the depressive lows to my creative benefit. It’s always been as if I view life through a kaleidoscope but now I finally understood why.

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I always can tell when mania is around the corner. My thoughts don’t end… It’s as if I can’t catch my breath and I’m constantly jumping from one idea to the next. All without ever opening my own mouth. I feel as if I’ve been talking for ages but I haven’t said a word.

I feel itchy. My arms, face, legs; they itch. Terribly.

With that, I become agitated because I can’t soothe this itch… It is not going away and there is not a damn thing I can do. This is when I begin to truly feel madness.

Majority of the time I battle with depression, day in and day out, I am constantly trying to find ways to make myself feel happy. So keep in mind, once this mania begins, it’s easy to love it momentarily, I finally don’t feel sad. My heart feels full and my is mind clear. This is amazing… Right?

Wrongthis is dangerous. Mania is addicting. Easily the best high I’ve ever felt. I don’t need drugs, my mind does this all on its own. I have learned to control it though. The highs can serve as creative revolutions and the lows are my time to really feel everything around me. I am now more in tune with myself than I ever have been.

I always know  when I am on the brink of a full on episode. On those certain nights I choose to stay in to rest my mind and body. If I would go out on nights like those, I know it would only lead to another sleepless cycle, which would make me think about people from my past and I definitely would feel terrible the next morning. It is so crucial to pay attention to what your body is telling you and not to ignore those symptoms.

Thankfully, three years later at 23 years old, I now know when I feel off. All of my senses become heightened, I can hear it in my voice and see it in my tired eyes. But even after all this time, I still struggle with my ability to feel it all when it comes to the world around me. Believe me when I say it is no where near easy being a manic-depressive human but it is also not impossible.

My moods swing on a fucking pendulum day in and day out. Relentlessly. Aggressively. Unforgivingly. Beautifully.

That’s my life and I am so in love with it. While it is exhausting fighting this disease, I am a survivor. I wouldn’t trade my mind for anything in this universe. I will not let this take my life. It’s been trying for years but I will continue with my efforts to prove myself to those around me. My only hope is to show others you can live a remarkable life even if you are forced to deal with a mental illness like I am. I refuse to let this define me. Now, more than ever, I seek happiness for every human on earth.

I know that at times life can feel unimaginably difficult but when things get dark try to think of this quote; know that brighter days are patiently awaiting your arrival and that you have so much life left to live.

“They say that one must beat one’s wings against the storm in the belief that beyond this welter the sun shines.” – Virginia Woolf, The Waves

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All My Love,

Valerie

Liebster Award

I would love to thank A Blaise Pages for the nomination for The Liebster Award. She was nominated by BorderLineUnhinged, you should definitely check out both of these amazing blogs and show these ladies some love!

I was shocked this morning to realize that someone found my blog worth reading and it was truly a wonderful thing to wake up to. So, thank you again! The Liebster Award is just a fun way to connect with fellow bloggers and show some support for other amazing blogs out there. The purpose of this lovely award is to promote new blogs that have less than 200 followers and to get to know the author of each blog! I have answered the 11 questions below and have listed my questions for my nominees to answer as well! Keep the love train going and check out and follow each of these wicked cool blogs that I recommend.

Here are the answers to my 11 questions from A Blaise Pages

  • What is the last book you read?
    • The last book I read was The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Scared of the Wrong Things. I definitely suggest it and you can buy the book here.
  • What has been your favourite holiday?
    • I would have to say New Years Eve is my absolute favorite holiday. I love the idea of new beginnings.
  • Why did you start writing a blog, and when was it?
    • I had always wanted to try it out and actually just created my blog 3 days ago!
  • What tips would you give to a new blogger?
  • What was the last film you watched?
    • The last movie I watched was Titanic a couple of nights ago. Always a classic.
  • Which city would you most like to live in, and why?
    • I think I would enjoy living in Barcelona, Spain the most. I think that is the most beautiful city in the world and it is right on the beach, it is perfect.
  • Which city would you most like to visit, and why?
    • I would definitely love to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have met so many wonderful people from there and I can only imagine how magical of a city it is.
  • What were your favourite, and least favourite, classes in school?
    • My favorite class was usually english because I love reading and writing. My least favorite was definitely math. I hated math so much all throughout school and still do to this day!
  • What would your last meal request be?
    • This is a tough one! I think a medium rare steak with garlic mashed potatoes.
  • If you could live in any Disney film as an extra character, which film would it be and who would you be?
    • I am not a big fan of Disney but I think I would want to be in Fantasia because that movie always freaked me out as a kid and I would be one of those dancing brooms.
  • You’re hosting a dinner party and can have any 4 guests attend? Who would you invite?
    • Living or dead? I would invite John Lennon, Derek Jeter, Amy Whinehouse and Heath Ledger.

10 Random Facts About Me

  1. I love drinking pickle juice straight out of the jar
  2. I can talk to almost anyone without a problem but absolutely hate public speaking
  3. My favorite color is and has always been purple
  4. I absolutely hate the smell/taste/idea of ketchup
  5. Besides my hatred for ketchup I am probably the least picky eater in the world
  6. I have visited 10 countries in the last 2 years
  7. My favorite show of all time is Greys Anatomy
  8. I went sky diving for my 20th birthday
  9. I have played tennis for 12 years
  10. My favorite flower in the world is a giant sunflower

MY Questions for my Nominees

  • If you could create one law in your country, what would it be and why?
  • The doctor just told you, you have 24 hours to live, how do you spend them?
  • What is your latest music album recommendation?
  • What is one thing about you that you wish everyone knew?
  • If you could go back and change 1 thing from your past, what would it be and why?
  • Who is your #1 role model and why?
  • What inspired you to create your blog?
  • What is your favorite city in the world and why?
  • Reccommend your #1 travel destination.
  • Share your favorite memory from your life so far.

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My Nominees for The Liebster Award!

Life Is Still Goot

My Quest to Finding Happy

99 Sly Thoughts

A Different State of Mind

Beauty Beyond Bones

The Adventures of Beard

Hi guys!! I found all of your blogs by searching specific tags that I enjoy and loved what I read on each of yours and all for very different reasons. I followed you all and cannot wait to read more as we continue our blogging journey. Keep writing, being fearless and keep The Liebster Award going by posting your own and recommending fellow bloggers whom you enjoy! I have listed the rules below! Much love everyone.

The Official Rules of The Liebster Award. 

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
3. Answer 11 questions from the Blogger that nominated you.
4. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
5. Ask your nominees to answer 11 questions.
6. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1,000 followers.
7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so they can learn about it and know what to do! (they might not have ever heard of it!)
9. Post your Liebster Award blog post link in the comments of your nominator’s Liebster Award Post
10. This is no official rule but it would be nice if you followed the person who nominated you.

“Two of Us Riding Nowhere”

My Aunt Liza loves to tease me and tell the story of the day my little brother Mauro was born. At the ripe age of 3 years old, I had no idea that my life was about the change indefinitely by becoming a big sister. All I understood was that suddenly, I was no longer going to be the only child of the family, all of the love and affection I had been showered with for my entire three years of existence was about to be split between myself and this new baby?! It was all too much for my toddler brain to process and that was enough to send me into a full on tantrum right there at the hospital. According to her, shortly after Mauro arrived, I began crying and blurted out to everyone in the delivery room, “Nobody loves me anymore!”

To this day even I am amazed at the dramatics that I brought to the table at such a young age. As much as I love to deny this ever happened, I can now laugh when my aunt reminds me of my outburst on May 2nd, 1995, because I could not have been more wrong about what to expect from this tiny new addition to our family. I was 3 and he was a few minutes old, the day that my parents provided me with my best friend for life.MAURO TOT

I wish I could remember the exact day that I realized being his big sister was not this massive burden and annoyance but rather this unbelievable gift from the universe. For the longest time it felt like Mauro and I would never have anything in common except for our parents and the bunk bed we shared. Although we are only 3 years apart in age, growing up our interests rarely overlapped. When Mauro was obsessed with skating and playing with his Tech Decks, I was entering my freshman year of high school, praying to make the varsity tennis team. When I started crushing on guys and wanting to go out on dates, Mauro was still in his innocent, prepubescent state of mind, running around outside until the sun went down.

Looking back at it now, it feels like we went years without having a meaningful conversation because we just lived our separate lives and could not relate to one another. When we would cross paths at home it would usually end in either me punching him or him kicking me until one of us was crying and we were both pissed off, our tears served as a reminder as to why we kept to ourselves in the first place. Much to our surprise that all changed in 2009.

MAURO VAL BLANKIES

As I was entering my senior year at Communications Arts high school, Mauro received exciting news that he had been accepted there as well for his freshman year. Only about 120 students get accepted each year so it was pretty cool because for the first time since our elementary days, him and I would share the same hallways of a school again. Instead of him waiting for the bus everyday, it only made sense that he rode with me each morning.

I had no idea at the time, but that half hour before and half hour after school in the car would soon become the super glue to our relationship. It was simple really, we would make our music selection for the day and jam out in the car together while impatiently waiting for our bean and cheese tacos in the Mama Margies drive thru before classes. I was 17 and he was 14 and for the first time in ages, the most unlikely things brought us back together; Comm Arts and our undying love for .69 cent breakfast tacos.

Mauro Varsity Tennis Fall 2010 021

We all know that old saying, “You don’t know a good thing, until it is gone” well that serves to be true in this scenario. When I moved across the country to Chicago for my freshman year of college, lo and behold I was desperately missing those car rides to school with my little brother. It was our time to catch up on life and uninhibitedly bitch to one another about whatever was going on in our own little worlds without the worries of being judged or ridiculed. I don’t think either of us realized how much we not only enjoyed those car rides, but in a sense we grew to need that time together as well.

That first summer after being away for a year, Mauro and I spent almost everyday together. In fact, we both often refer to it as “That Summer” as a synonymous reference to the classic Garth Brooks song that we have listened to countless times and the best summer of our lives. I was 18 and he was 15, we had never been closer and I had never appreciated my little brother more.

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As I have watched Mauro grow into the man he is today, I honestly feel so incredibly lucky to be able to navigate through the crossroads of life with him in my passenger seat. When I am filled with all of these crazy ideas, I know I can turn to him for a voice of reason and a solid dose of reality, all while he still encourages me to take big chances. His friendship means more to me than almost anything in this world and just knowing he is always going to be in my corner gives me that extra motivation to be the best version of myself. Anyone that has ever met Mauro can attest to the gentleman that he has become, not because he has to be but because that’s who he truly is deep down. How blessed am I to be able to call myself his big sister?

To this day one of my favorite things for us to do is blast our favorite tunes in my car and just drive until we get to where ever we are going. It seems as if our destination this whole time was never meant to be our high school parking lot, it was merely a pit stop along the way that guided us to this irreplaceable bond that him and I now share. It only took us the better half of our lives to figure that out, thankfully at 23 and 20, I think it is safe to say we have finally arrived… Cheers to that, lil bro.

“You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead” – The Beatles

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All My Love,

Valerie

 

 

 

 

 

The World Above, Below and All Around Us

I would just like to congratulate whoever is reading this for surviving another day in this crazy world we all attempt to coexist in. For some of you, this may seem silly to even acknowledge but in my world, there are very few things that do not deserve celebration; surviving another day in the midst of the 2016 elections is not one of them. So, anyway, good job guys, keep on surviving (and thriving)!

Now, let’s just jump right in, shall we? Never in my worst nightmares did I think I would be “one of those people”, you know, the kind of person who decides to start a blog because clearly, everything that I have to say or have an opinion on is so special and absolutely needs to be heard by everyone around me… Yeah. Not exactly.

As for myself, I am just your (not so normal) 23 year old, forging my own path through life, making countless mistakes along the way and learning something new and beautiful every damn day. At my age it can be so easy to fall victim to the pressures of our society, to let your family or those around you decide what is best for your future. The desire to never want to disappoint your loved ones does not go away or even lessen as you get older. In my case I have learned that while they may not always agree with your life choices, when it comes down to it, they will always love you and be there for you in the end. I have had to learn to chase my dreams on my own terms, regardless of the opinions of family members. If I am being completely honest, the day I realized that, is the day I truly began living my life; not theirs.

I am a few months shy of 2 years post Grad and let me tell you, it is definitely not all it is hyped up to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I went to college and had all of those experiences, they made me the woman I am today. I just can’t help but wonder if there was something else I could have done with those four years of my youth? I hate that I even think about life in those terms and that is exactly why I promised myself that my life after graduation wouldn’t be about rushing to find my tiny spot in the work force and staying there for the unforeseeable future. I knew that after dedicating the previous 17 years of my life to the standardized education system, I owed it to myself to just simply “be”. To be present in the world around me without a set agenda, to let my mind wander and roam to places that were not part of an assignment given by a professor, to allow myself the freedom to get up and go to an unfamiliar country solely out of curiosity, and most importantly, to be my own source of inspiration and motivation.

As we all know, time waits for no one. Every single day we are given here on earth is another chance to make amends with someone from your past, remind someone how special they are in your life, to call up that old friend you have been missing for quite some time now just to simply say “hello” and for finally realizing your full potential and taking that crazy leap of faith towards living out your wildest dreams. There is this quote that I try to remind myself of every day that truly inspires me to be fearless, hopefully it will do the same for you! Until next time…

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain.” – Sylvia Plath

All My Love,

Valerie