Monday, February 19, 2018

17.


Hello.

I genuinely did not want to write this post.

I wanted to avoid the subject at all cost.  I wanted to keep living my life as if nothing happened.

But the reality is, that 17 innocent lives were lost and countless others are in ruins. 

I would be a hypocrite not to discuss something that happened only 30 minutes away from my own home.

What upsets me most about the shooting at Stoneman Douglass High School is not that it was so close to home, or that people died, or that it occurred on a national and religious holiday, or even that this is such an acceptable part of American lives, but the fact that this person has the capability of making people fear for their lives when they are pursuing an education.  That upsets me most. These were children, innocent children.  And now so many of these innocent children are afraid to attend school, parents are afraid to send their children to get an education, school is literally an essential part of every child's life and thousands of students are now afraid of the institution that was meant to propel them towards a better life. 

This post is not political and will not discuss the subject in detail.  I simply ask every one of you to place yourself in the situation that those children faced the day a young man walked into their school with the intention of killing as many people as possible.  Place yourself in their shoes.  Feel their fear, try to imagine the sheer atrocity it must have been to sit and wait in a classroom, not knowing if you would make it out alive.  Then, place yourself in the position of the parents that sent their child off to school every morning for the past 18 years and now will never see their baby ever again, will never hear their voice ever again, will never hug them ever again, will never hear their laughter, will never watch them walk across the graduation stage or get married or have children of their own.  Have some compassion for those families and those students that have suffered. 

I implore all of you to hug those around you that you love, make it known to them how much they mean to you.  Pray for the families, pray for the souls of those students that lost their lives, pray for the young man who did this, pray that no other child will ever have to suffer this pain again.

I know that prayers and condolences will not make a change if they are not followed by action, but I choose not to get political because that's not my intention.  I am incredibly proud of the willpower of Broward as a county and a community, these young people will truly make a change in the world because of their choice to not be silenced but rather use their voices to help others in the future.

I leave you with this quote:
"Opting for peace does not mean a passive acquiescence to evil or compromise of principle. It demands an active struggle against hatred, oppression, and disunity, but not by using methods of violence. Building peace requires creative and courageous action." - Pope John Paul II

A.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lent.



Hey.

So lent is a very important time for any Christian, but particularly as a Catholic, this time is highlighted by a multitude of events that culminate into the season of  Easter.  This is probably the most important season, surpassing Christmas simply because it is held in remembrance of Jesus' greatest sacrifice for each and every one of us.

I know you're wondering, "Well Ana, what are you planning on giving up this Lent?"
Well, my response to that question is quite difficult because I'm not giving up a specific item, but rather I am choosing to give up more of my time to the Lord.  I don't really have any negative habits that I must get rid of or any temptations that are causing me harm, but there are things I don't do like pray on a regular basis.

I've decided to dedicate at least half an hour every day to prayer and communicating with God.  The first thing my father said when I told him this was that half an hour was way too little.  But in reality, going from five minutes a day to an hour seems like a drastic change.

To be honest, I am the type of person that prays throughout the day and has a little conversation with God asking Him for guidance or saying a short prayer of gratitude or simply going to Him when I really need someone to talk to.  But I feel that dedicating myself to sitting down and simply thinking about Him, maybe praying the rosary, or reading some verses from the bible, would really help strengthen my relationship with the Lord immensely.

We all have super busy schedules, trust me I know the struggle.  But we should all be willing to dedicate at least a few moments of our day to honour our creator, the one who gives us everything we need and never fails to be there for us all when we need him most.

So I encourage you all to give up a few moments of your own day this Lent.  You can give up Netflix too (that's what I gave up last year :D), but also think about how amazing it would be to grow closer to God over the next 40 days.

I hope you all had a great Ash Wednesday!

A.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Habits.


Hi.

In my search to pursue happiness and pursue my goals, I looked up different ways people studied and lived their daily lives.  There was one common variable among all of these generally happy people.  How did they all build good such well-rounded lives? They developed habits.

A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary, according to the definition on Dictionary.com.

This is crucial because small habits, small consistent actions are what develop a person.  Once we formulate something as a habit, we no longer have to spend energy making the choice to do that action and we have more energy to make better-informed decisions on more important things in our lives, this is all part of the will-power theory.  You can find more information about the willpower theory through the American Psychological Organization: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower.aspx

So, how do we create habits? How can we use our bodies natural ability to form habits to our advantage? Why are habits so important?

We create habits through constant repetition.  We can use habits to make tasks such as studying, exercising, healthy eating, easier for our bodies and seem like less of a daunting task.  Habits are crucial because every small act, every choice, every single decision will build our character and eventually who we are as people.  Habits can be good or bad. Our ability to manipulate good habits and remove bad habits is what makes them so important.

It takes time to build an action into a habit.  But if we can take that time to help us develop something that will benefit our future, why not?

If you're interested in learning more about habits and research conducted on the subject I recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

A.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Biomedical Engineering


Hey!

I decided to begin my school and study posts writing about my major and my first semester of college.  There is not much information available on my major unless you go looking for it so I felt it appropriate to discuss being a female in the STEM field.

So I am an undergraduate student studying Biomedical Engineering.  Biomedical Engineering (BME) is the implementation of engineering principles into the medical field.  The field of BME is extremely broad and can range anywhere from building prosthesis to wearable sensors to cellular engineering.  Many of the medical technology such as MRI as well as the heart rate monitor on a smart watch are all considered part of BME.

Currently, I have only completed one semester of college and therefore have only completed one class under BME.  Fall semester I took six classes: chemistry, chemistry lab, calculus, two honors courses, and intro to BME.  The majority of my studies consisted of chemistry, calculus, and MATLAB.  One of the major things about engineering that many people tend to forget is that it is not only a science based field but a technology based field.  Coding and computer simulations and laboratory work make up a great deal of your time and efforts.

My first semester of college was all about transitioning for me.  I wanted to focus on building good study habits and having a stable foundation in terms of my academics.  One of the most important things I did was waking up early and going to the library every single day.  Even if it is just staying at the library to read a book or watch a YouTube video, make it a habit to go somewhere that you can focus.  This way when the end of the semester comes and you're stressed, you won't have to waste your willpower on going somewhere to study (I will be doing a post on habits later on).

Otherwise, I did not become incredibly involved in any organizations until this semester simply because it was difficult to try and keep up a new schedule whilst accommodating to commuting and balancing everything.  I kept it simple and just focused on school for the first semester while I got accustomed to everything.  If you're going into your first semester, I strongly suggest that you do the same because it will be worth it in the end.

I apologize for the long post but I felt it important to discuss all of this because university is an important step in anyone's life and not many people know about what I am currently studying.  I hope you all have an awesome day and if you have any specific requests/suggestions/concerns just leave them in the comments below.

A.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Patience.



Hey!

So patience is not one of my strong suits. I want what I want and I want it now.  But, life has taught me that my plan is no match to that of the Lord's plan. 

We often think that we have everything figured out, or that because others are moving at a different pace than you that it is better, or that everything we have must be better than it already is. I am most definitely someone who has dealt with all of these feelings and has battled with life because it is not going where I want it to go.

You may be thinking, after months of not hearing anything on this blog, I am suddenly coming back talking about these abstract subjects that have nothing to do with fashion or beauty. Well, life took a turn for me.  Sometimes you must isolate yourself from toxic relationships and negative influences to truly hear God and His message to you.  That is what happened to me my first semester of university.  I wasn't "lonely", but I was alone and all I had to comfort me was prayer and simply listening because there was nothing else I could do.

On that note, I want to encourage you all to really focus on practicing patience.  Be still and just listen.  This doesn't mean you have to stop working towards your goals or go off into the desert and isolate yourself completely.  But try asking Him to guide you, guide your life, show you where He wants you to go.  I seriously struggled with this, with the idea that I could trust my life to someone I never personally met. It is difficult because everything seems so vague and there will be so many temptations that stir you away but stay firm in your faith.

In this world, people often move too fast and miss the little moments.  Those little moments, those small pockets of peace are where God speaks to you. I challenge you to slow yourself down in a world where speed is seen as something essential.  Don't drive so fast to work, just leave your house a little early.  Don't rush to finish your paper, start it the moment your professor assigns work. Don't anticipate getting everything you want the exact moment you want it because God will give it to you when you truly need it most.

I am officially back.  God has placed it in my heart to write my story, write my lessons, write about my life.  I will be writing about faith but also about university, beauty, and fashion as well.  I don't know what purpose this will serve or whether it will help someone, but I truly hope that someday someone reads this and is comforted to know that struggling is only part of life and that everything, absolutely everything can be resolved by simply having faith and being patient through your trust in the Lord. 

A.

Friday, January 26, 2018

How Do YOU Define Success

Related image




Hello!

So recently, I watched a video on YouTube by Gabriel Conte describing his reasons for thinking he is successful and how he became so successful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmQTyuQWJBc

This video really got me thinking, how do I define success in my own life and how does my definition of success alter the way I view my life.  Success, as many people think of it, is reaching a point of great wealth and popularity.  Yet so many of these wealthy "successful" people fall into negative habits, depression, and some even commit suicide.  Conte describes his success in terms of the relationships he has developed and the effort and time he has placed into those relationships in order to allow them to flourish.

I fell in love with his view of the world.

No, this does not suddenly make me the world's most positive person. No, I am not enlightened. No, I am not perfect.

But, my perception has shifted.

Success is not a one-size fits all.  We all measure success based on our own accomplishments and our own goals.  The main idea around this video and this post is that success does not equal wealth but rather how you take in all the blessings in your life and take advantage of those blessings in a positive manner.  Life is a great culmination of our actions and it really requires all of our efforts to reach a point of ultimate success.

So I ask, how do YOU define success?  Does your malformed definition of success make you out to be less than you are? Can you modify success to fit your life? If you have yet to reach success, can you modify your goals to attain realistic, true success?

A.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Graduation!

Hey.

Life is a crazy ride.  This Monday I graduated high school and officially entered a new chapter of my life.  My family came to celebrate my successes, even after all I have put them through.  It has been a great blessing to have been given the opportunity to have such an amazing education and now be headed towards another institution to continue studying the subjects I love and enjoy.

Here are some photos from graduation:








It was an amazing experience and it went by so fast, I barely remember it.  Honestly, a lot of students were sad to be leaving behind four years of memories and friendships but I feel prepared to step into college and build new friendships, new experiences, and new opportunities.  High school was difficult but college will be something completely new as I step both into a new environment and into adulthood.

This summer, I hope to sew more and learn to make new clothing as well as visit my family in Puerto Rico and do some exciting things such as hike into the rain forest and go zip lining.  Hopefully I will make new clothes and be able to share them with all of you.  

I am so happy to be back to my normal self and feel much better since my last post.  

Quick story about my cap because it holds great meaning for me:
After the incident with choosing my university, I became very sad as I mentioned in my last post.  I was confused and lacked faith that God had a good plan for my future.  So I went looking for bible verses and stories and blog posts that would help calm my soul, things that other people experienced that would set me back on the path to prayer.  That is when I cam across the bible verse Jeremiah 29:11.  After I wrote it down, I kept it in my journal for a while and when it came to decorate my graduation cap, I wrote it.  As I showed the progress of my decorations to my family, my aunt noticed the verse and said it was the same as the one on the card she gave me. In disbelief I retrieved the card only to realize it was the verse in Spanish and a chill went over my entire body.  This was the sign that the Lord was present and ready to be part of my future.  He will take care of me and ensure my future.  

Image result for jeremiah 29 11

A.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Envy.

Hey.

Recently, I came across a troubling realization.  I am envious.

My mother is probably reading this and flipping out because envy is such a terrible thing and its one those seven deadly sins and its just generally not good.  But, we all do it.  We all envy.

In today's society is it so easy to go online and peek into someone else's life.  It is so simple to see all that everyone has, all of their material possessions, all of their relationships, their lives essentially.  It is incredibly easy to compare what you have to what they have.

Personally, I was really depressed about having to make the tough decision to enter FIU rather than move to Washington DC for college.  I had a difficult time finding a reason to get out of bed.  Sometimes, I lost my appetite and even lost a few pounds over my saddness.  I didn't really tell anyone about how I felt until one night I just couldn't hold it in anymore and I walked into my parent's bedroom, sobbing like a child because I felt everything in my life had gone wrong.

Truthfully, life just isn't always perfect. Things were not going my way and seeing everyone around me so happy, filled with so many amazing opportunities and new experiences, I felt like I was being held back from reaching my full potential.

Then, out of nowhere, all the signs that I kept praying for came to me.

It all began prom night.  Prom was incredibly expensive.  Don't get me wrong, it was an unforgettable experience and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to be part of the tradition that is "Prom" but I regret paying so much for one night.  I regret feeling like I had to be beautiful for everyone around me rather than feeling beautiful for myself.  I mainly regret feeling sad for myself about not having a date because despite being dateless, I had an awesome time with my friends.

That night taught me that I was so concerned about what others thought about me that I did not stop to think about what I thought of myself. I needed the elegant dress, the beautiful hair, the long nails, everything had to be perfect (@ Sharpay Evans).  By the end of the night, my makeup was streaking down my face, my hair was frizzy, and my heels were in my hand.  None of the other stuff mattered because I danced with my closest friends and had a good time while still being sober.

After prom, I realized I didn't need a mans nor did I need all of these excessive and expensive things to make me happy.

Then, the following night I went to church and a lady went up to my mother and started speaking to her about a new radio station which led to the conversation about a Puerto Rican prayer group and then led to the conversation about a young adult ministry.

One of my main concerns about going to FIU was that I would not be involved in my faith as I would be at CUA, especially considering my recent hindrance in my faith (we all have moments where we question ourselves and our connection to God, but that's a whole nother topic).  When I found out that there was a youth ministry near me of students my age that sought the Lord in the same way I did, I knew it was a sign.

So, the point of my anecdote was not to spark sympathy, because I am getting better, but to show you that sometimes life sucks.  Sometimes, we see that others are enjoying their lives and we see all that they have but even once we reach a similar point we still see what we don't have rather than all of the blessings around us.

Look around you.  Right now, you are probably envious and jealous of someone who has more, who has more money or more friends or more time to relax.  Let it go (@ Frozen lol).  Focus on all the amazing opportunities, even if they are small.  Things may not be going your way right now, but if you continue striving for your goals you will have all that you need to fulfill your own journey towards happiness.

It is so difficult with all of this negative energy and this push to lead an idle life but God calls us to keep pursuing greater goals.

Today, I am focusing on the small victories of just going to the gym and the sun shining beautifully outside because life is too short to be envious.

A.

P.S. - I looked like a little princess at prom and I had such a fun time!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Science.

Hello

My two favorite subjects in school have always been science and mathematics.  As a young girl, I was often teased and bullied for doing well in school and enjoying these subjects (even when I myself did not understand them).  Females are told from a young age that they do not belong in the STEM field because of their gender, because of women's predetermined role in society.  Furthermore, the entire discussion of science is seen as something to be discussed by people who lack the knowledge to be adequately part of the conversation.

Obviously, I consider myself a laymen, someone who lacks proper specialized knowledge in a particular subject.  I am still a student, still in the process of learning.  But this makes my role in the conversation that much greater, it makes me and all other students part of the future.

This weekend the March for Science was held in more than 600 cities across the world on Earth Day.  I learned more about the subject, as it is directly related to the field of engineering in which I plan on going into.  The movement is based "on informed advocacy, community building, and accessible education" (according to the March for Science website homepage: https://satellites.marchforscience.com).

Instantly, I thought about the great impact science and learning has on our community.

It is so important to be part of a conversation and to establish a connection with the world around us in a more coherent and specialized manner.  So, I encourage all of you reading this to become more aware.  Science may not be your best subject, sometimes the material is difficult to grasp and the lessons are hard to apply but it impacts every single one of us on a daily basis.

Learn. Be present.  Establish yourself as a member of society.

This world, it is not going to be here forever.  We must learn not only to care for it but to evolve in it.

If you have any topics or things that you wished to be discussed, please leave them in the comments below.

A.

P.S. - I wrote this a while ago and simply forgot to post it (lol) but I still believe the message is pertinent and hopefully sparks a discussion.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Evolving.

Hi.

Recently, things in my life have changed.  I have changed.  My perspective, my priorities, everything about me has matured and grown up into a small, concise package that is Ana Valentin.  When I began writing my blog, I made it in the hopes that I could share some of my high school experience as well as my love for fashion and other super girly things.  As crazy as it may seem, I am not the same person I was as a freshman in high school.  I have grown up a little and honestly, fashion is no longer a priority of mine (mostly due to lack of funds, but we will ignore that).

There is so much more I want to discuss and put out into the world (even if the only people that read this are my parents, hi mom and dad :).  Point being: my blog is a piece of me that will continue evolving as I do.

Quick Update:
So yes, I have chosen to change my blog and eventually the style and look will change too.  As I go into college and face the real world, I will have new experiences with new people and a whole new life.  Right now, things are changing drastically and not in the way anyone expected them to.  I will be remaining at home, living at home, commuting to college, studying biomedical engineering, while *hopefully* working part-time nearby.  No, I haven't decided if I will go to medical school or grad school or anything else for that matter.
But I am getting a new car and its beautiful, I will share at a later date.

Some of you may be wondering, why has Ana suddenly decided to make such a drastic change? Well my dear reader, because a drastic change was made in me.  I want to have fun times and be goofy and at the same time be able to uphold a meaningful conversation with another person, and I want my blog to reflect that.  I attempted to emulate people with a totally different life perspective than mine previously.  Now I am creating my own content that makes me happy and sparks a discussion that I want.

For a long time, I did not use my blog or write anything because I did not know how to tie in my life to my blog.  This time I can share my life, the reality of what college is like from my perspective and make a place where my ideas and my thoughts can flourish and my experiences can be shared without the overwhelming need to make everything perfect like all other social media seems to force us to do.  I realize I am not attending a college like Stanford where different minds come together in a melting pot of brilliance, but I've come to the conclusion that anything you do in life is up to YOU to make the most out of it.

I hope you all can support me in my decision to change this blog into a more lifestyle-discussion piece.

Thank you for all the loyal few that continuously read my work, and to the new readers I hope you stay to find out what I am all about.

A.