MamasLatinas: October 2016

Food & Fiestas

13 Creative taco recipes to make NOW

14 Latin pumpkin recipes that will get you in the mood for fall

14 Easy ground beef dinners for quick weeknight meals (RECIPES)

16 Recipes that prove chorizo is WAY better than bacon

10 Best Latin potato recipes for easy weeknight meals

Life & Inspiration

10 Reasons why getting older is actually a GREAT thing

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Let me explain this whole “Map Your 30s” thing to you

Today is exactly six months after I turned 30 years old, a journey which I planned to blog about here as I grow and learn in the next decade of my life.

I’ve named this part of my life the Map Your 30s blog but I now realize that I never actually explained what that all means, or what even the concept of “mapping” stands for.

Yes, I’ve talked about why it’s okay to not have your life figured out at 30, where I currently am in my life and even the scary part of turning 30 that I have been holding back on. There’s also been smaller chapters about how my life turned into a rom-com, beginning to go to therapy, going back to a flexitarian diet, whether or not I should buy a car and the struggle of growing out my hair.

These have all been important tidbits into my life after 30 and I know I still have a long way to go, and a hell of a lot of room to grow in my six key areas of focus (relationships, career, home, finances, health and confidence).

But one thing that I haven’t actually explained as I started this journey isn’t the WHY, though there’s more to be said there, but exactly what this next part of my life means to me.

Last year, after I had gone through a particularly difficult time in my life, a friend gifted me a swirly heart picture from MapYourProgress.com. The story behind this Maps project is quite interesting, but what fascinated me more was the combination of art and charting your progress toward something important all through this oh-so-pretty map.

From losing weight to paying down debt to creating a new habit (like recovery!), I was fascinated by all of the possibilities. The drawings, you see, actually represent goals and the power of this Creative Progress Maps system is that you can actually set whatever goal you want. “Just pick one that matters to you,” the creator instructs.

And so I picked mine.

My goal is to make turning 30 into the Decade of Awesome, as the same friend who gave me the heart-shaped map said, and I’ll be coloring in the map’s swirls as I make progress.

That’s the whole point of my new quest, and thus the Map Your 30s blog went from being an idea to being an actual thing. It just happened to be a thing I didn’t explain very clearly before today.

And so now, six months after turning 30, I am more focused than ever on making the next few years of my life the best that they can be. Because there’s no age limit to living the best life you can, right?

In fact, since turning 30, I think that I actually have my priorities a bit more in order. I may not have everything figured out yet, but I’m looking forward to getting there.

All of this is ultimately about having the courage to follow my dreams and about having the courage to say that I have a lot of growing left to do–and that’s TOTALLY okay too. It wouldn’t be a life worth living if I wasn’t constantly learning and striving to be happy.

So happy half birthday to me! It’s going to be a good decade.

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(Image via MapYourProgress.com

The scary part of turning 30… That I’ve sort of held back on

Turning 30 hasn’t really gone exactly the way I thought it would.

The big Three-Oh, as they call it, has been both much better and much worse than I ever could have imagined.

I remember, years ago, when I realized that this age was on the horizon, thinking that it was a scary time. But that’s okay, because that scary time was very far ahead of me. Then as the years got closer and closer, I came to this realization that turning 30 was Supposed To Be Scary.

It was! There is not a single person that I’ve heard from who was actually excited to hit this mile marker. And I think I know why.

As teenagers, we seriously can’t wait to grow up. I couldn’t wait to finish high school, go off to college, get out of my parents house and start my new life. Then as a young adult, I was living the life I had always dreamed of as a teen.

I was successful in my career. I was living in the city that I loved. I had wonderful friends and I was constantly making new ones. I even had some sort of a love life most of the time. It was great.

My 20s were wonderful, really.

They were exactly what I had always hoped for and imagined, and then some. It was a time of discovery and appreciation. A time when I grew into my personality, lost weight and gained the self confidence I always knew was deep down inside of me.

The reason why turning 30 is seen as a scary thing is because, as teens, that’s when the fun seems to stop.

There isn’t necessarily a concrete age where everyone wakes up and decides “Holy F, I guess it’s time to be an adult now!” but 30 always seemed like just about the right number for that.

When we turn 30, we’re no longer the young people that everyone talks about. We’re not allowed to just be silly and have fun, to need time to find ourselves, to admit that we still haven’t figured it all out, to need a seriously drastic change in our careers or our homes or our relationships (like I did).

This is the age when we supposedly Have It All Figured Out. And despite the fact that I intellectually know that this is all BS, that there isn’t a perfect age to know everything about yourself or the world or your place in it, that feeling is still somehow there, in the back of my mind, taunting me with its anxiety about why I haven’t done those things yet and fully become The Person I Was Meant To Be.

In our 20s, it’s easy to say that we still have time. When I was 23, I was just out of college. At 25, I was having a quarter life crisis and adjusting what I truly wanted in my career. At 28, although I was well aware that 30 was just a couple years away, it still felt like I had the world ahead of me.

And then I turned 30 and somehow… I don’t know, there just wasn’t something extra there.

I don’t know exactly what this piece is that I was missing. I’ve been told that turning 30 is scary. I’ve read articles about all the things I should know or do or read or have by the time I reach this age. I’ve also been reminded that it’s not a big deal. That turning 30 doesn’t really change anything and that plenty of people, both friends and those of the famous variety, have lots of growing up to do even after this age.

But yet still it somehow affected me.

And I still haven’t even figured out how, to be honest. Turning 30 was simultaneously not at all a big deal to me and also the biggest deal on the planet. I know that it’s fine that I’m not quite There Yet, but I also know that plenty of people are.

So what if I have friends who are only now starting to pair up? So what if I have friends who are just barely starting grad school? So what if I have friends who just decided to quit their jobs to travel the world? Their choices are amazing and wonderful and I admire them – and at the same time it all still scares the F out of me.

This evening I lay in bed and read the first chapter of what I am coming to appreciate as a very important book in my career, Writing Is My Drink. Although there are lots of awesome tidbits and nuggets I’ve already obsessively underlined in the book (yes, I’m one of THOSE people), there is a particular sentence that stood out to me: “Why don’t you try writing about what scares you the most?”

It’s something that is suggested to the author, Theo Pauline Nestor, and prompts her to write a story about her abortion. As I sat there marinating on what that sentence meant, I realized that she was right.

Writing about what scares me the most is the key to good writing, and in particular the key to good memoir writing. As I begin this new life as a full-time freelance writer and seriously start working on my memoir, Moscow Chica, there are lots of things that scare me… But one in particular that I am honestly just not ready to write about.

Yet as I lay there, I realized that’s not really the biggest thing that scares me. The thing that scares me is that turning 30 is going much better than I thought it would a couple months ago, and somehow much worse than I thought it would a couple months before that.

I’ve spent many days over the past several months (and, to be honest, the past year) telling myself that it was all going to be okay. Turning 30 didn’t mean the end of anything and it certainly doesn’t mean that I have to grow up, be an adult and know what the heck I want in life.

And although I know that’s true, it still doesn’t scare me any less that I am not where I thought I should be at this age.

In many ways, turning 30 has allowed me to take a step back and reevaluate my life. It’s why I started the Map Your 30s blog in the first place. But I realize now that I haven’t really been very honest here, and I haven’t really been writing as much as I know I should be.

Before you take a step back and warn me about using the word “should” in the past two paragraphs, I KNOW.

Nobody is quite as good as I am at giving myself way-too-high expectations that I am sure to fail. I’m only now, at this age, learning where that feeling comes from and what damage it has done in my life.

For right now though, I have to admit that this isn’t really going the way I thought it would. I think it’s going very well, actually… Maybe. But at the same time, there is a fear in me still that I can’t seem to calm. I don’t even know if I can put a name on it yet, but it’s there.

This whole “turning 30” business has really messed me up somehow. And I don’t know if it’s because of the ever present societal expectations or just my own, but what I do know is that I have a need to write about these things.

I promise to try to write about them more often. And a little bit more honestly. Because it’s really easy for me to talk about the awesome parts, like meeting the love of my life or moving out of the city I called home or how I’m eating healthier these days. But it’s harder for me to talk about the painful or confusing or scary parts, like what to do when tragedy strikes or why I have issues accepting generosity.

I know I need to, though. I wouldn’t be up right now, sitting in my very dark apartment while Adam sleeps in the other room, typing away at my computer about The Thing That Scares Me The Most. And I’m not even sure what that thing is yet, but I’m here writing about it anyway. Maybe if I keep hitting the keys long enough, I’ll figure it out.

For now, though… I’m just going to say that being 30 is weird. There are a million amazing things about it, yes, but it’s also really, really weird. It’s not an age I ever had a plan for, despite absolutely being the type of person who’s always planning my next step in life, and so now I am a bit aimless and confused.

And I guess that’s okay. I know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. Perhaps when I wake up tomorrow, this will serve as a catharsis and that whole number will seem a little less scary to me.

But for the moment, I’m just going to crawl back into bed and try to fall asleep… Scary oh-my-god-am-I-actually-thirty-now thoughts and all.

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I’m 30… And here is where my life is right now

Well, it’s officially been three months since I turned 30 years old, two months since I moved to Florida, and one month since I decided to *finally* take on the challenge of improving my life in the next decade… or so.

Mainly, my goal with the Map Your 30s blog is to prove that turning this momentous decade doesn’t have to be the end of your journey. It doesn’t have to mean that you’re now an “adult” because someone says so. In fact, only YOU can decide that. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you have to have ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING figured out. In fact, it’s totally okay if you have some (or a lot!) of growing to do. I encourage it!

So, as I begin this journey… I wanted to start with a full update about where my life actually is in relation to these six important fields that I am tackling as part of my growth in the next year or 10 or so.

Relationships: Up until this point in my life, I’ve been mostly single. But now, beyond all odds, I’ve met the most incredible person I could have ever hoped to meet–and one amazing partner-in-crime for life. Although we’ve been together for just under two months, I know that this is it and I am INCREDIBLY happy. And trust me, this big change in my life came as a HUGE shock to me!

Career: As of tomorrow, I’m back to being a freelance editor at Brit+Co. I’ll be working part-time to handle their food content, and I can’t wait to get back to it. And I’ve started writing regularly again for MamasLatinas, where I’m handling food, health, beauty, entertainment and more. Plus, I’ve got big plans for other freelance pieces… AND A BOOK.

Home: Well, the biggest change here since turning 30 and today is that I am now a resident of Southwest Florida. This isn’t really where I thought I would be at this point in my life. In fact, I am mildly conflicted about it because, when I left this area for college in New York, I told myself I’d never come back and NYC is where I belong. The only problem? I’m not really sure I feel that way anymore. For the first time in my life, I’m flexible with where I want to live. And that’s okay.

Finances: Well, this is probably one of the areas that I need the MOST work on, to be honest. I’ve never been that good at finances and I’m currently not taking in any income. That is to say, I haven’t had a paycheck in a couple of months–but as you read above, that should very soon change! Once it does, I am going to start saving for a car and… stuff.

Health: Right now, I am actually doing Whole30 with my boyfriend. Before that, my health was mostly okay but I definitely wasn’t fully happy with where I was. Although I lost 100 pounds a few years ago and have been able to keep MOST of it off, I wanted to be at a smaller size. Now I’m actually okay with my size, but I wanted to go back to eating healthier. I had fallen off the wagon of eating 80/20 (80% healthy, 20% whatever), so now I’m taking MAJOR strides towards that with this new challenge.

Confidence: I had a really great therapist back in NYC, but to be honest I haven’t been focusing on this area all that much. The most I’ve been able to do is find a pretty good support group in the area, which I am planning to go to on Friday nights. However, I’ve done a few other confidence-boosting and general “for me and my mental health” things lately, and I’m planning to continue that.

All in all, I am in a pretty decent spot with most of the areas of my life–but there’s definitely a LOT that I want to improve on, too. I want to continue to nurture my new relationship, make time for writing my book, decorate my new home, start saving money for that car I want, finally finish Whole30 and continue to build my self-confidence.

Just because I’m 30 now doesn’t mean I have it all figured out, but I’m happy that I will be doing more to improve myself. One step at a time.

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Map Your 30s Blog: Why life doesn’t end when you turn 30

Exactly two months ago, I turned 30 years old.

One month later, I arrived to my new (old) home in Florida.

Today is May 22nd, 2016, and I have officially lived thirty years and two months on this planet. I don’t want to get annoyingly philosophical here but, in a nutshell, here is what I learned:

We never, ever stop growing as human beings.

Or at least we shouldn’t. Constantly growing and improving ourselves is something that I have always believed in, and it’s what has driven me to this point: being officially three decades old, feeling both like an adult and like I still have a LOT to figure out, and wanting to kinda sorta do something about it.

That’s where the idea behind the Map Your 30s blog came in.

As I was approaching turning 30, I noticed one big thing happening to me and my friends. We were all simultaneously freaking out about the Big Three-Oh while also realizing that–hey! it’s really NOT that big a deal, is it? And as I approached my own milestone birthday, I started to think about all of the things I cared about in all of the different areas of my life.

Namely, I cared about: nourishing the relationships I had with friends and family, taking my writing career to the next level, creating a wonderful home life, organizing my finances (aka saving money), making sure to keep up my health goals with clean eating and exercise, and working on my self-confidence through therapy.

These six key areas of focus, I realized, are what is most important to me and where I want to grow in the next decade. So, following the spirit behind and the wholehearted belief that, HEY, just because I’m 30 now doesn’t mean that my life is made or figured out or that I don’t still have plenty of learning to do, I decided to create the Map Your 30s blog.

For the next year or five or twenty years, I am going to be doing big and little things to improve my life in these categories: relationships, career, home, finances, health and confidence. And, like the writer that I am (and because it might even help a bit with the “career” part of this project), I decided to occasionally blog about my adventures here.

While this site will remain a representation of my portfolio in general, I will also be cataloging and generally talking more about some of the other aspects of my life.

Like maybe dating (relationships), the book I’m working on (career), my new apartment (home), saving money for a trip (finances), cooking more Healthy Latin Food (health) and continuing adventures in therapy (confidence).

These are all topics that interest me, I hope to write about here and elsewhere, and I hope will maybe interest you a little bit too. And maybe, just maybe, I might even inspire someone to do their own growing, changing and otherwise improving life after 30.

Because let’s face it: whether you’re married or single, have a fantastic career or still looking for the right fit, bought a house or not even thinking about it yet, started your 401k or haven’t even figured out doing your taxes on time, regularly make it to the gym on time or get winded climbing the stairs, go to the beach without a shirt on or can’t even step foot in the bathing suit section of the store, turning 30 is just another milestone.

It’s never too late to be a more awesome person. And, as a good friend of mine put it: this is the Decade of Awesome. Welcome to it!

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