Work/Life Balance

That’s a phrase I picked up from living in the tech bubble for 11 years. Say it with me “work life balance.” The concept is self explanatory and quite frankly is a no-brainer but for some reason we more often than not find it hard to do. Think about it; How many times have you found yourself picking up an extra shift at work, clocking in that OT, then find yourself surprisingly fatigued, unmotivated or overwhelmed by activities that typically bring you joy?

I just spent the last 2 1/2 months doing just that. I was working 6 days a week, sometimes up to 55 hours, without any respite in sight. I pushed through as I usually do, but found myself getting progressively tired all the time, not realizing I didn’t make time to check in with myself, let alone rest and recuperate. We find ourselves thinking “I can’t spend time with you because I want to sit in my couch and be a vegetable, to–say it with me–balance out the energy I just spent working too much.” We convince ourselves we’re being productive but in reality we’re depleting ourselves of creativity, secluding ourselves from our community and ultimately limiting our potential for personal growth.

In order to break that cycle there are a few things I like to do:

1. Get organized. I schedule everything in my iCal. The trick is to block out the time frame for each activity, that way you visually see how many free hours you have in a day or week, to do more of what you love. Or just breathe.

2. Play hooky. Take an unexpected day off. Changing your routine can open the doors for spontaneity and get those creative juices flowing. Pro tip: Make sure you incorporate a self care practice. That could be anything from reading a book in the park to baking your favorite cookies. My personal favorite is setting intentions for the coming lunar cycle, burning some incense and doing a card reading.

3. Quality time. Time is money but it’s also priceless when you spend it with those you hold near and dear. Go have coffee with an old friend, make dinner with your parents or participate in the hobby of your significant other. Taking time to be present with those who hold you up can refill your reserves when you feel like your cup is empty. My partner’s newest obsession is plant parenthood so we bought a bunch of new plants and repotted old ones.

Most importantly take a deep breath. All the things are manageable if you take the time to check in with yourself, listen and fulfill your needs accordingly. That’s it for me folks! I’m playing hooky today and have to go pack for an impromptu picnic with friends!

Until next time ✌🏽

Since the last full moon I’ve been sleeping so deep, I wake up with migraines. Completely agonizing physical pain represented by undesirable places while my eyes are closed tight and my mind is lost in the same maze every time I dream. Giving literal meaning of the phrase ‘hard-headed’.

I tend to move fast through life; chasing ideas my heart wants to transform into reality. The problem with moving at that pace is, of not careful – you are more likely to fall down if you aren’t paying attention. Paying attention to your tired and weary self that is in desperate need of some rest and reflection.

Which sometimes leads to over committing, not saying no when it’s in our absolute best interest, FOMO; seems to be a generational plague that has fallen over us because we are all too afraid of falling behind in the race. Riddling us with anxiety and chasing us away from accepting present moments.

While moving fast I have fallen out of some good habits:

I’ve stopped journaling because I don’t have time.
I don’t exercise anymore because I really need that extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning(which turns into 60).
Our home is less tidy at the end of the night even though it drives me crazy.

It’s these things that have me working harder at taking back ownership of my life and standing in my truth.

This is literally one of the most powerful stages of growth I’ve experienced. I’m challenging myself to observe things through a different set of lenses. For instance; I find that I am a person who would reject interactions with those people who just weren’t on the same frequency as me. You probably won’t think there is anything wrong with that. In most times I would agree, there’s not much the matter with it. But I’m trying to switch my method a little and face that fear of the unknown; the possibility of conflict or rejection. I have to say, it is far less stressful to face it than to keep thinking about it and let it grow to a sizeable problem that you have no control over and ultimately turns into something you had no intention to create.

In these dreams I’ve mentioned, is where I’ve been confronting some of the biggest obstacles that have been eating away at my not only my psyche but my daily life and my relationships. I was planning on keeping the dreams to myself but if you know me… well then, there’s no point in me pretending to not have skeletons sitting right on my living room couch.

It is a conflicting space when being happy to pursue a legacy you chose out of the pocket of your heart, yet worry about not spending enough time with family and taking an interest outside of your own. I don’t take care of my health – mind and body – the way I should. I miss books, really good bendable, smelly, wordy books. I lose really important things that create more bills and unnecessary time spent. I’ve stopped telling people about it because they laugh, and for me it’s a serious fucking problem. I spoke out loud weeks ago that I desire to be more mindful, my dreams have been forcing me on to that path.

You are going to want things so badly that you will do anything to obtain them. As you manifest and create the life you want, it is an absolute must that you seek balance through that process. Seek balance to help you stay rooted. Feet firmly pressed to the bare ground and soul light in weight so you have the greatest vantage point of where your journey leads. Without that type of awareness, one would go nowhere very fast.

Breathe deep. Dream often.

Rooted

Rooted

Last week, I was in one of my favorite happy places communing with a group of beautiful women and a conversation I wasn’t even aware I needed to have arrived in our space. A conversation around showing up for yourself, growing out of self-love in a new present feminine kind of way. We were all wanderlusters of some measure who had looked for the place that felt like we were connected, like that place wanted us back as much as we wanted it.


I finally realized through our profoundly generous  exchange of stories, through everyone’s  eyes and hearts; that home is what you make it. These feelings extend to sentiments around community and career; places where you pour your self into others. It’s how you choose to mold your surroundings and I think for such a long time, I was so unhappy because I felt like things happened to me and I wasn’t in control of those events or the people I felt were causing them. So in certain ways, I kind of shut off or cut off relationships just because I knew they weren’t serving me. Some of what I did, spot on wouldn’t change a thing. Others, I wish I would have explored healthier ways of disconnecting because the emotions connected to those instances left me angry or disappointed. Making it a little harder to heal or regain the confidence it took to hold my head high. I finally find myself in a place where I am elated with the work I’ve  done and can start knocking on those doors that hold possibilities for me.


Possibilities foster hope. This statement alone brings a sparkle to my heart and butterflies in my tummy. I am looking at myself and my surroundings with new lenses. Falling in love with being able to recognize goodness and purpose. I wasn’t taking the time to acknowledge my growth. I hear about it, I see it but I didn’t take the time to be thankful for this favor I’ve been blessed with.


I understand fully and accept that home is what you make it and it starts from with in. I have so much gratitude for new friendships and mentorships from an unlikely people that want to see me win. It’s reciprocity for me showing up with good intentions and surrounding myself with genuine connections. I am seeing that no matter what, your happiness comes from within.  I’m able to move with a little bit of peace and a sound mind. Being rooted from within feels good.

Home was and always is, within every single one of us.

Shedding Negativity with Spiritual Medicine

In an effort to do some spring cleaning, I went to a sweat lodge last weekend. A friend invited me unexpectedly and I went into the experience not knowing what to expect. The journey left me feeling at peace but also motivated by the spring energy or renewal and rebirth. I channeled my inner spiritual goddess, faced the physical challenges of visual depravation and pushing my physical body to its limits. I shed all the negativity that I had been carrying. I don’t know about you, but this was a hard winter for me, emotionally speaking so this experience was the most rewarding.

As someone who prefers to communicate visually, I leave these photos here for you to enjoy. I hope they peak your curiosity and you find your own way to clean out the proverbial closet because spring is here and it’s time to start anew!

Peace and love,
Isabel

Community Fosters Opportunity

Community Fosters Opportunity

I say that. A lot. It’s something I firmly believe in. Especially as a freelancer/maker/artist/creative or title of your choosing, those professions don’t always come with a built in community or set group of friends like elementary school did. In my own experience as a hypersensitive extrovert (I may have made that up), I love to be around people, building relationships, teaching each other things, growing and struggling together. 

One thing I’ve learned is the struggle is real when your network is stunted. Sure your friends and family are supportive and rooting for you to succeed but do they really get it? Do they understand what you’re trying to do with your art, your vision, what drives you? It’s ok if they don’t but you can’t hold it against them. You know why?  

Because sharing is caring. Have you actually taken the time to share your passion with the people you interact with daily? Does the girl who serves you coffee everyday at your favorite coffee shop know you started a non-profit for homeless teens? Does your brother know that you just created an app that helps people organize their lives? Does your mom know that you want to make custom made fanny packs for a living? Let’s flip it. What happens when you witness someone speak about something their passionate about? Their eyes light up, their speech speeds up and you as a listener are captivated by their excitement to share. The feeling is contagious even if you never experienced what they’re talking about. Do yourself a favor and embody that energy. Tell everyone, even your cat, how passionate you are about whatever it is and I promise you positive results within yourself. Don’t feel too confident about speaking your passion into existence? You know what to do: 

Fake it til you make it! We’ve all heard it before but how many of us practice it? When I graduated with a MFA in Photography back in 2014, the first few months of conversations I had while meeting new people felt weird. They’d ask, “so what do you do?” and I’d stumble on my words and say, “well I’m…uh…a photographerrrrr….” with a few more long, indecisive pauses sprinkled in. I mean yes, on paper, I am a Master of Photography. But at that point in my infantile career, I was more comfortable saying I worked at Peets Coffee than declaring to the world that I followed my passion, studied and acquired skills and got really good at something. It’s all so surreal until you speak it into existence. Even the “impossible” stuff. 

Am I an artist? Yes. Am I making a living as an artist? Well that doesn’t pay the student loan debt but everything I do is infused with my artistry so at the end of the day I still feel confident and comfortable in identifying as an artist. I’m hoping to one day be living proof that if you do what you love, the money will come. So what am I saying to you? Carve your own path. Trust me, it’s doable. Hard. Unpredictable. But the only person that can make shit happen for you is you. Sure there are Threshold Guardians but it’s up to you to keep knocking down those barriers until you feel 100% you 100% of the time.

Is that a tall order? If so, hang in there. When you feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, on one leg, blind, in the snow, with no shoes on…hold up, I got carried away…so, blind and forgot why you’re even doing this, remember that there are so many fucking people by your side, being your other leg, smoothing out the path uphill, setting up a pulley system to get that boulder uphill faster of just whispering in your ear every 5 minutes that you can do it.

If you want to know where I am in my journey, I’m currently carving my own path. I have no idea what’s ahead but if I keep at it, I know it will be made for me, just how I like it and laid out so others can follow if they so choose. Moral of the story is we’re all in this together folks (remember it started with community) so drop the spotlight syndrome, speak your truth and live your passion to the fullest!!

-Isabel

Do you have a similar experience to share? Or something totally different and you want to start a discussion? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂

P.S. (Thank you to all the meme-makers out there, you know who you are. You’re the best. Sorry I didn’t give each one of you credit.)

Womxnhood

Womxnhood

The 3rd Annual Women’s March happened today, but for me it was the first. I was wholeheartedly determined to go regardless of whether or not I was going alone because ironically, the last two years I had to work for a woman-owned and woman-run company during the March. I didn’t realize how much the Women’s March meant to me until I missed it. After work last year, I found myself walking through the streets of San Francisco post-March desperate to find my friends at an after party with the promise of the same “I am woman, hear me roar” energy only to find that everyone had gone home and I felt like the weather: overcast and gloomy.

I cried in public. Which isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things because let’s face it, I’m a crybaby. But I was just so heartbroken to have missed out on such a historical experience. So this year I promised myself I would go with friends or alone, it didn’t matter because I found assurance in knowing I would be surrounded by thousands of women who have my back, just like I have theirs.

photo of owik collection sweater

I woke up, put my Hoe Zone sweater on, pumped up my tires, turned on Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer album, and biked downtown. I felt excitement creep in as crowds of people made their way to Southside Park in Sacramento. I didn’t expect to see 100% elder white women in attendance, but in my experience they make up a large part of the protesting demographic so I was pleasantly surprised to see men, people of color, young and old, babies and everyone in between. The influences we have on each other by just being present is really an amazing thing.

Protesters marching

The scene was rather beautiful actually. Not only were we all here to collectively take a stand, but so many people utilized their creative and artistic abilities to design signs, clever phrases, wearing costumes and coordinating props with their allies. As women we have a lot to say (or talk to you much if you want to further support the stereotype) but the plethora of messages I saw that day were all over the board from DACA, to equal pay to reproductive rights. The common denominator among all signs was that each person was fighting for more than just themselves and sometimes not even themselves at all. I was moved.

Two women protest with signs

Instead of a sign I carried my camera, assumed my role as photographer, documentarian, historian, keeper of truth. Funny thing is I was actually recognized because of it. I ran into a beautiful soul I bonded with at Burning Man. I walked away from that interaction feeling grounded, anchored by the same beautiful energy I experienced in the desert, only here marching for women’s rights.

marching band
aztec dancers

The entire experience was ushered along by a New Orleans style marching band and a drumming circle. “How perfect!” I thought because I know how much women love to dance! (or is it just me?) I felt an unspoken bond with the musicians as we made eye contact, like we recognized each other‘s roles in facilitating such an event. Midway through, as the majority of the March was happening in the street, the Latinx community forged their way at a somewhat quicker pace up the sidewalk brandishing artistic feminine renditions of Che Guevara and Angela Davis, chanting “hermana escucha!!” (Sister listen!!) as they followed the Aztec dancers in full traditional garb. I’m not of Latinx or Spanish descent but growing up in California, looking as I do, I’ve had a Latina experience and it warmed my heart to see my Latinx sisters showing up and showing out. I stepped aside to document their display before I merged back into the crowd.

8 piece band sings

At that moment I found myself getting emotional because the energy was palpable. Here we go crying public again! But there was a photo op I couldn’t miss so I had to temporarily swallow the tears and get back to my mission. Just then an older woman reached out to me for an embrace, smiled and said “thank you for showing up“ as if validating all of the emotional history I had surrounding this day. I hugged her back and smiled, speechless. I cried (in public) as I wrote this because her gesture was so impactful.

Our caravan of festive and outspoken people rounded the corner after passing an eight piece acoustic band of elders playing “Let It Be” by The Beatles. We joined in and sang an encore chorus or two before we hit Capitol Plaza and everyone spread out to get their photo taken in front of the Capitol building. Some stylized, some capturing the moment, me wondering what’s next. I came across the Raging Grannies harmonizing with vigor as their sweet little voices were heard, recorded and admired by all who witnessed their movement. I silently vowed to myself to be exactly like them when I’m their age.

raging grannies
keynote speakers at the Capitol

That’s when I heard the first speaker of the event coming through on the loudspeaker. Her focus was on the ongoing struggles of the Indigenous/Native Peoples of California. She was followed by several empowering women who touched on reproductive rights, health care, the prison system, the government shut down to name a few topics. But one woman, Angelique Ashby got the crowd fired up as she highlighted an entourage of women standing behind her who were voted into office in the Sacramento area. All of the guest speakers were inspiring, motivating and their messages were very clear: Don’t give up. This fight takes work and we can all do a little bit more.

speaker at womens march

Just as hunger set in, I heard the MC Coco Blossom from Sacramento Youth Speaks announce that Beyoncé was hitting the stage. Did I question why Queen Bey would grace Sactown with her presence and not her hometown of Houston, Texas? Yes. Did I make my way back to the stage to see what all the hoopla was about? Of course. Sure enough there was an amazing performance happening on stage, with lots of hair flipping, thigh high boots and sensational choreography. Turns out after the 30 minute set, the headliner Miss Shalae who entertained us with her high energy performance skills announced proudly that she was the First Black Trans Woman to headline a Women’s March and she was praised for it by all in attendance.

And that, my friends, is what womanhood is all about.

-Isabel

Permission Peace

Permission Peace

I’m sure I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I can remember the times when I was in grade school and handwriting was my favorite, the action of moving my hands to create a message is one of my most loved past times. I wrote letters to my friends- some really nice, some not so nice and some were used against me whether they were trustingly handed over or bound inside my journal. These last few years I have been inspired by writers from all over and how they bring healing and self discovery into spaces longing to have a connection to positivity. That is why I am here. To experience those feelings at the highest vibrations. Every month, we want to share a journal topic with you all in hopes that you would join in and work within your heart. This question came from a very respected Instagram influencer in the wellness space; Alex Elle:

Who do you give yourself permission to be?

The first time I could recall feeling the most grave disappointment was the day I sat outside on the steps of my home waiting for my dad to pick me up and take me back to Oakland. I must have got up from those steps and returned to those steps more times than I can remember but to paint the picture, I will give you the scene. Looking to the west, you can see the whole street all the way to the horizon. Cars are going by; the neighborhood kids are running ramped in the streets. The sun moves like a slow motion lopped pitch across the sky until it starts to create the illusion of melted rainbow sherbet amongst the tops of the Oak trees lining Malaga Way. I came to terms that he wasn’t coming and joined my mom inside the house. I was just 9.

From that day on, I looked at my playmates differently. At such a young age I started making the determination that if I wanted people to depend on, I had to be that person. I was not going to accept fallacy as a component of friendship. I seemed to hop around cliques a lot, resting assured all my eggs weren’t in one basket. When people would hurt my feelings I took it so personal. I took it as an attack, and whether or not you were prepared; I took you to war. A person with this mind set becomes mean and hard. I had a barrier you could not penetrate, not unless you were willing to disarm yourself.

Over time, I realized that my attitude and my baggage were really starting to hold me down. I needed to shed the weight, to clip the ends, cleanse the palate and to revive the heart. Two months after a Valentines break up, I met a man. I was open but still resistant because I was supposed to be working on me, damn it. I was supposed to experience independence. I couldn’t shake the fact that I was absolutely sure God sent him to help with the healing. We had a friendship. A deep rooted amazing friendship; that blossomed into love.

Through this unconditional love, the love where if you looked at it on paper; should have never happened – I found me again. I found my soul. I breathed a deep breath into her and filled her with light. Every day I evolve into a person I can be proud of. The mom, who is loving and understanding but firm and adamant. The wife that challenges her husband to dream bigger and to let people into his heart. The daughter who understands now the sacrifices of a parent and who appreciates everything her Mom and Dad were able to do for her.

I see myself as someone who is not afraid to grow and accept new ideas that challenge where I have been and where I want to go. I need not accept any limits unless I want to.

I give myself permission to be, love.