What I learned by going vegan for Lent…

He meets me right where I’m at. Simple as that. I went in kicking and screaming. Isn’t that how many of us go in to our Lenten fasting. We go in with bright eyes and dreams, for some of us we begin thinking of the Lenten penance & fasting as soon as the Advent Season is over. We bask in the glory that is rules and regulations of the Catholic Church. No gray areas, this is it. Yet, it’s not. He meets us right where we’re at. That’s the continuing theme of my Lenten journey.

I knew in my heart this is what I needed to cleanse my soul and bring me closer to our Catholic community that is currently persecuted around the world but in my heart – my love that is Syria and her people. So I was determined. I wanted to quit before the ashes were placed. I knew that I was going to give up. I even told myself, “I’m going to take it a day at a time.” Something whispered (Oh, hey Holy Spirit!), “You are my child. I gave you the tools. Build what you can and I’ll take care of the rest.” My vocation of being a parent was ever more evident, to show my children never quit what you claim you will accomplish if you have the means or ask for help.

Kiddo toes & picnics with my Bunnies

So I asked for help. I solicited the help of a friend I met through Instagram and Beachbody, Darlene Taylor (nee Adamusik), a health and fitness vegan coach. If I was going vegan and training for 2 half marathons I was going to do this right and not just eat tacos de aguacate and calabacita all day long. I also went into this being a bit obnoxious in my thought process, “I’m a pescatarian, what’s giving up fish/dairy/eggs?”

  1. The suffering is so short lived

No really, it’s not that bad. It’s amazing what the addiction of food will bring to your life in a not so great way. Did this bring me closer to Christ? Maybe. His suffering was obviously way more significant that my giving up cheese quesadillas; But it made me more thoughtful in my choices to fuel the body God gave me here on earth.

  1. People will look at you like you have an arm growing out of your forehead.

Plain and simple. You tell them you went vegan for Lent and they’ll suddenly treat you like you’re a crazy person. I didn’t like explaining why at first. I was embarrassed but I soon got over the ego. They’ll also freak out if you go to dinner with them or are at an office lunch. Don’t worry, I pack my own salad and bring my own carrots. Thanks for the offer though!

  1. Getting over the ego is the hardest part of the deal

And this is probably where I learned the most. I don’t like to be different. In fact, I like to blend in to the wall and not draw attention to myself. I prefer to raise others up and give them the attention. This is probably more with my coping mechanism of growing up obese and in the barrios of San Antonio. I just wanted to get by, nothing more. But that’s not what He wants for us brothers and sisters. He wants all of us, He wants us to be flamboyant and proud but also welcoming to all faiths. He wants us to be like Ned Flanders in a world of gray.

My husband asked me on our way to Good Friday Mass if I plan on continuing post Holy Saturday at sundown. I will go where He leads me and for now it’s vegan (for the most part). I’m not going to stress out and don’t want you to either if there’s hidden cream or eggs in an item but I will continue for as long as He leads me. Always listen to the Holy Spirit, it’s with you at all times you just have to invite Him into your place.

“So, what are you giving up for Lent?”

Oh that question… again. Is it Lent already? But we just celebrated Christmas. I know, it’s crazy to believe that in less than 24 hours, we will have people walking around and where our marks on our forehead will be the tell-tale sign of “I haven’t gone to Mass yet, people will know!”

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#AshTag2017 – Theme: We Got This   40 Days

I remember as a kid growing up in and out of Catholic School the distinct honor of having those ashes spread across my forehead like I was going into war. In a way, we kind of are. But not picking up the ammo and running with it hoping for high hell that we are equipped with the necessary weaponry. Our weapons are just a bit different and the enemy is mostly of the soul. Everyone has their own battles to fight and crosses to bear, sometimes we are lucky to go at them with a tribe and others we must go at solitarily.

I recently published an article in the bingo publication that we produce along with our team of wonderful writers & designer that hits this entire topic at its core. To me, Lent is like a Spring Cleaning –

Clean Up Your Relationships

If your 2016 looked anything like mine, you came out looking like a forgotten piece of meat on the grill. Relationships are a living, breathing thing – if you don’t tend to your friendship garden, things will rot and spoil; this is ok. If you think this relationship is just hitting a rough patch and is willing to go through the steps of talking things through with your partner/friend, go for it. Go with an open heart though, this cannot be a one-sided item. But, if your relationship has been making you stressed out to no end, it may just be time to focus on those who bring out the goodness in you.

Work on You

That class or skill that you’ve been neglecting to take, now is the time to take the leap to learn the skill. As we get older, we let go of the hobbies and interests we used to love and have replaced them with chores and obligations (the adult life). Take charge and add some fun back into your life. You’re bound to find a hobby that you love.

Do not see this as a “giving up” and sacrifice time, see it as an opportunity to declutter your heart and leave room for the Holy Spirit (like 8th grade dances).

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And if you must know:

  • Prayer: 1 hour per day with meditation/Scripture/Mass coupled with journaling/blogging
  • Fasting: Going vegan y’all – Eastern Rite style.
  • Almsgiving: donating bags of clothes & toys

 

〉Melanie

 

 

Forgive yourself for the trespasses you have against self

“Now, apologize to your sister/brother.” If I could save this audio and just press a button for my children throughout the next 18 years (who am I kidding? the remainder of their lives) it would save me the hassle from saying it nearly every 30 minutes of the day they are awake. How many times does our Lord feel exasperated by us when we commit sins and we go to him to right our wrongs or cry out and feel like children complaining about our trespassers? I can almost feel him rolling his eyes at me, except not. He doesn’t. He forgives uncontrollably time and time again, our little faults, our big ones. He’s there and says it’s ok. In the First Gospel according to John today we are reminded:

If we say “we have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in the darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another. If I’m being completely honest with my readers and/or fellow Catholics it’s been over two years since I last went to confession, my ACTS retreat in November 2013. I’m trying my hardest to say this will be a resolution but it would fail as my six other resolutions failed in 2016. It is my intention though to make it at least once a month to confession and it would be nice to see if others are with me in this endeavor. I’m human though and things that I confessed to still ring in my heart like a tether and are hard to let go, yet He’s completely let go and moved on to bigger and better things in my life.

At this time of year we are asked by friends/family/strangers on social media to make resolutions or to dedicate to a “New Year/New You” mantra or group dedicated on fixing whatever you have going on. Myself and Jesus are telling you right now, you are perfect just the way you are right at this moment. We all have our crosses, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. If we choose to be sheltered in the thought that this year was the “worst” and live in the darkness, we fail to see the light that happened.

There will always be pain, there will always be darkness. But you have the choice and the power to see light.

In 2017, be you, forgive yourself and laugh more with people you love and love you back. Don’t magnify the darkness for in darkness we do not act in truth.

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Full Disclosure: I’m writing this while sitting in my jammies and watching Designated Survivor so obviously it’s that kind of night. It’s also in a weird way connected… proceed

I promised myself that 2016 was going to be huge, like Leslie Knope meets HRC huge. It’s been filled with lots of stress that was self induced and all it took was Dallas, an August weekend up to Dallas, and IHOP to get me to this realization that I am right where I need to be.

When people ask me, “What do you do?” I have a few responses that flow through my head – but really I want to say I’m a badass. But so are you. Think about it, you’ve made it this far in life to be sitting behind a screen and reading this entry. You’re amazing dude.

So yes, 2016 is huge – I’m excited to share what I have going on and this will probably have to wait until 2017 but for now it’s all on planning for big projects with my beloved company, meditating (a new practice I adopted since reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris),  and focusing on my 3rd half marathon.

If anything else – I didn’t “leave” my previous occupation. Well, I did. So much more than that, I grew and realized right where I needed to be was where I was all along just didn’t give it the proper credit where credit was due. I’m a woman in tech, why hide from it? I also edit the most amazing bingo magazine in the state of Texas. That’s a badass feat.

And with that – peace out. I got a new ‘do today.

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Sup – I’m like Alicia Keys, makeup can’t hold us down.

“Stupid’s a Bad Word”

Well kid, sometimes things just are stupid.
img_4079This morning my sweet, darling, hilarious daughter (up there) chirped in to a conversation I believed was adults only. Conversation topic: how stupid it is that people are bent out of shape over a presidential candidate’s diagnosis with a lung disease. Said lung ailment I had when I was 21 and it put me out of work for an entire week; yet here goes this candidate taking 24 hours off. My God, she’s not fit for the job. (Please sense the sarcasm or just discontinue reading.)
So yes, sweet kids – stupid is a bad word but let me tell you what else is not pleasant –

  1. Hunger – Did you know that 1 in 6 people in America face hunger? That’s 20.6% of families in America… FAMILIES y’all. This month, the Junior League of San Antonio (plugged that in and you can head over to http://www.jlsa.org for more information) and the San Antonio Food Bank are teaming up to combat this epidemic by raising jars of peanut butter for families in our local community. You don’t need to be a member of any Junior League to take part in any of this though, nor do you have to be a voter, pick a party line, have an ID. You simply need to call up your local food bank and ask, “How can I volunteer/contribute?”
  2. (Lack of) Voting – You know what’s pathetic? People don’t vote when thousands upon millions of people have fought, battled, died for your right to stand in line for 5 minutes – 5 hours to vote and you have in some cases a total of thirteen days to vote. Did you know that in 2012 only 54.9% of people of voting age actually exercised their right to vote? We can’t anymore, not now, not this time.
  3. Illiteracy – According to a U.S. Department of Education and National Institute of Literacy study in April 2013, 14 percent of our population can’t read. A whopping 21 percent of adults have a 5th grade reading level and a whopping 19 percent of high school graduates can’t read. Let that sink in for a moment. 14% of people can’t read Dr. Seuss, Spot books, Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Kim Kardashian West’s hit books.
  4. Wage Gap – I shouldn’t have to explain to myself or my daughter one day  ever that should she and her brother get the same job, he will be paid more than she is. I’m a recovering politico and I’ve been there, done that with the good ol’ boy system; it’s just stupid. But for numbers sake – In 2013, the median woman working full time earned 78 % less than what the median man working full-time did. #ThatAintRight (Read it Chris Rock style).
  5. Health Insurance Increases – Look, I’m not one to ever complain about the necessity of health care. I’m a card carrying member of we all need adequate health care. That also means that health insurance companies know darn well we need this fun thing called insurance too and they’re not afraid to bump up that price of insurance at all. It’s called business, it’s called knowing they have a commodity that we need, that means they can do whatever they want. It’s not me I’m complaining for though, it’s 21 year old Melanie that was kicked off her insurance when she got hit with the aforementioned pneumonia. It’s for the families that have to make the difficult decision whether to purchase groceries for their families or get health insurance and/or subsequent care.

So you may think that my list is a bit left of communism (which it’s not so learn your terms), but it’s reality. So yes kid, stupid is a bad word but sometimes there just isn’t any other way to describe what is going on.

KonMari

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For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a terribly messy person; messy hair, messy clothes, messy rooms. I made it my mission when approaching the amazing, rock star age of 32 that enough was enough. I needed to adult now. I do have little beings that watch me daily. So here I am, at a crossroads when I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, or “KonMari” for those in the know.

 

It’s been a long journey for me to finish this book. I set out in May to read it and I trudged through it. Began with a bang then life happened (aka sick kids) and I kept forgetting this precious pocket sized lovable book at home or in random spots, more to that later on in this post.

 

So here’s the book in a nutshell: whatever doesn’t truly bring you joy, that unmistakable joy that sparks that wide-tooth smile, BE GONE!

 

She recommends getting rid of items in one go – all at once, don’t look back. However, there is a method to this, hence the KonMari Method.

 

For starters, don’t go room to room; instead, go category by category. Your personal clothing, children’s clothing, dog’s clothing, spouse’s clothing (this will be harder for them to be on board unless you have a spouse that is down with KonMari). Legitimately get every single article of clothing in one room. I chose to go with my clothes first.

 

Before all this go with a plan – visualize. You can’t go into battle without a plan, you are in battle with the clutter y’all. The clutter has taken over. How do you picture your space? If you are trying hard and can’t figure it out – head on over to Houzz or Pinterest. Those designers are begging for you to love on their clutter free space. Need more inspiration? Just watch some Fixer Upper and that Joanna knows how to show beautiful masterpieces of clutter free home. Now you need the why? Why are you wanting to go clutter free? Ask yourself this 3-5 times. Mine is because I’m tired of looking all over the place for items that I’ve lost. I’m that person that loses everything, just everything. Emails, gone. Mail/bills, yup that’s lost too.

 

At first thought we wouldn’t have much to banish since we renovated our closet not too long ago and I had already gone through this process. Oh no, I was wrong. Six giant trash bags to Goodwill (because I’m a Junior Leaguer) later I was left with items that truly brought me joy. How does one go about finding joy? Determine what “sparks joy.” Hold every piece of clothing in your hands, do you get the love? Do you give the love? If the answer is no, BYE! Thank it though. Out loud, thank the piece of clothing for its service to you.

 

The Method – the order. Everything comes with order, life comes with order. She has a specific way to order everything. Like the order in the scene from Titanic (Women and children first, then the men, and so on); there’s order to your tidiness: clothes, books, papers, and then miscellany.

Discard before you even think about putting anything away. Out with the old, in with the stuff that stays.

 

In the effort to not go full KonMari crazy with you – I’ve decided to put it as two separate posts about this insanely useful method because she truly does deserve two separate posts.

iOS 10 From a Real Person

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In case you missed it, your iOS device is about to get way more interactive; as announced this past Monday at WWDC2016 (hashtag that y’all) Apple announced the brand new iOS 10. I’m a bit of an Apple junky. It started way back in 5th grade playing Oregon Trail while in the computer lab at school. I fell in love with the sleek look of the Macintosh that was uniform in our public school.

 

Twenty years later, I purchased my first Apple Device of my own – the iPhone 3. Since then I’ve never looked back. So if you’re not an Apple person, this blog post may not be for you. Or if you just think I’m funny, then keep reading.

 

Along with being possibly the friendliest REALTOR who’s obsessed with data that you’ll come across, I’m also the President and co-Owner of SwipeTrack Solutions, LLC (http://www.swipetrack.com). We began as a primarily iOS device company and have now become this amazing company that also houses real estate and tech, my two loves.

 

I’ve had the hilarious privilege to be a developer tester to preview the new iOS 10, Beta folks you’ll get it in July, everyone else – FALL 2016 be prepared for some great stuff!

 

Wakey Wakey

 

Your lockscreen is now completely  redesigned. No longer will you have the pesky slide to unlock. Nope, now you’ve graduated with just simply “Press Home to Open.” Boom. You can also now wake your iPhone fixing the situation of going past lockscreen notifications if you hit the TouchID home button too quickly. Say WHAT?!

 

Notification Bubbles

 

Notifications are no longer just blended in with the rest of the screen. Oh no, you now get these beautiful bubbles that stick around even if you answer your phone to take a call (as I just did). Say you have a text message as your notification, you can now easily respond to that text message before having to open up your lockscreen and going through that process of opening Messages. App notifications now can open up in your lockscreen as well. My favorite is that I have a smart home and I can open up my Smart Things hub or Ring app for my doorbell and immediately respond to whoever or whatever is going on.

 

Hey Siri

 

Hey girl, I see you can now open up other apps. What a great concept! You can now open third party apps with Siri. She’s so nice. What an amazing feature for when I need to open up Amazon Prime Now and order some much needed laundry detergent.

 

I really wish I had the time and space to go over EVERY single new feature iOS 10 has but these are some of the best ones she has to offer. I can’t wait for you to see the rest.

 

One final thing: be prepared to be amazed with Apple Maps!