Throw out your Band-Aids      

As I type this, I sit in an empty house. Stillness.

Until now, I’ve been going a mile a minute organizing the wedding/UK visa/jobs/animal transport, and, and….

But thanks to help from my family and my multi-tab Excel spreadsheets, checklists, and meticulous calendaring…it’s all done. And now I have nothing but time to sit and soak in the fact that I’m about to pick up my future husband from the airport in an hour, and that we get married on Saturday.

It’s been FOUR MONTHS – the longest amount of time we’ve ever been apart. And if all goes well, it’ll the longest we’ll ever be apart again.

Typing this blog post is keeping me sane. I try really hard to control my emotions at all times. I’m realizing that I need to change that, because tears remind us that we’re human. Mine are giving me comfort now, because I’m fully realizing how much I f*cking love this man. And how he is everything I never knew I always wanted.

I wish could go back and tell 2012 self that it’s all going to be okay…the 2012 self that was going through the heartache of a divorce and leaving the only relationship I had ever been in.

That’s the thing about heartache: we know it doesn’t last forever but at the time, it feels like it does. But heartache needs to be felt before it can be cured. You can’t numb it, though many us try. It only postpones the healing. You ever picked at a scab? Yeah it’s kinda like that.

I’m so glad I didn’t Band-Aid my past, even though I tried to many times.

So I may not be able to tell my 2012 self that it’s all going to be okay. But I can tell you. Tears of pain lead way to tears of joy. Mine definitely have.

Or maybe I need to stop listening to so many damn Ed Sheeran love songs. This is too much right now. I am way too emotional. I can’t be crying cause seriously, my makeup is on point and I’m not about to mess up these lashes before my baby sees me in an hour.

Somebody please tell me to chill the f*ck out.

To be continued…


How to eat an elephant

I once heard this weird saying that went something like “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” It never really resonated with me until now. Basically the idea is, when faced with an overwhelming challenge, tackle it bit by bit and it will seem less daunting.

So I have a confession to make, you guys. Since I got back to Cali last summer, I’ve been eating an elephant.

Okay so let me tell you, this is one BIG ASS elephant. I’m still not done with it. Like, I couldn’t even fully see the height of its ears or the width of its body until recently. I felt smothered by it.


Chipping away at the elephant…

In the process, few of my friends have even seen me. I became a social hermit confined to my computer – obsessively planning, blogging, applying for jobs, researching visa requirements, and taking SEO classes.

Every day, I took bites from this massive elephant.

“The elephant” is what I came home to after a year of freedom and having no ties…then suddenly needing to set up a whole new life and not knowing what I wanted it to look like.

That’s because dismantling “the old” is only half the battle. Picking up the pieces and rebuilding “the new” is a bit trickier. It requires applying everything you’ve learned and making decisions as your new-and-improved self, which means being careful not to settle back into old habits.

This stage is critical because once you’ve laid down new roots, it’s hard to change them. I’m still free and fluid right now. I can do anything/be anywhere. So I’ve got to use the intuition I worked so hard to build. I’ve got to do this right.

That’s why until now, I purposely blogged about past events rather than the present. I was in such a state of flux that I didn’t want to share it with the world and risk being influenced on which path to take.

A lot has changed since I’ve been back. But my life hasn’t even begun to turn upside down yet

When I returned home to San Diego after nearly a year of being in Europe, I had to hit the ground running on my job search. I quickly discovered my prospects for marketing roles were better in my hometown of San Francisco, so I quickly said my goodbyes, boxed up my life in a Budget Truck with my cat RZA, and drove a 14-ft moving truck back to my City by the Bay.

Summer came and went quickly: I filed visa paperwork for Jordan to move to the U.S., then my sister got married, and I started aggressively looking for work. Before I knew it, it was autumn and Jordan flew in from London to meet my family for the first time.

One Sunday morning, he and I were strolling through Golden Gate Park when we passed the carousel near the children’s playground. I was rambling on about how I used to go down the cement slides on strips of cardboard. He had to stop me mid-sentence (GOD, why I am always talking?!), he held my hand, nervously reached into his pocket, said some beautiful words I won’t repeat, and he pulled out the ring box.

IMG_7023 - CopyI was a crying mess for a minute, after which we each proclaimed the words “HOLY SHIT!” on our walk back to the car because…HOLY SHIT are we really engaged right now?! He had even asked my dad’s permission. Good job, J :)

I kept looking at the ring, and then at him. We couldn’t stop smiling. It felt so normal to have that ring on my finger. Like it had always been there. For a moment, I forgot he lived 5500 miles away and that we would be saying goodbye again soon.

We had planned on him moving here and us getting an apartment in Oakland. But…fast-forward a few months….and now it’s ME who’s moving to London. He’s advancing in his career and I didn’t wanna take him away from that, so it made more sense for me to make the move.

But we didn’t want to wait anymore. After almost a year and a half apart, at some point you’ve made enough short-term sacrifices and it’s time to begin living your life.

So, I cancelled all my upcoming job interviews. It PAINED me…I was soo close! We’re now quickly throwing together a small, simple wedding with our immediate family and a few close friends so I can file for my UK spouse visa and move to London once it’s approved.

So that’s where I am now. Between stacks of visa paperwork that could fill an entire 3-ring binder, UK animal transport paperwork, selling my belongings, and planning a shotgun wedding, I’ve finally devoured enough of “the elephant” to feel like I can enjoy this time instead of being stressed by it.

But most days, I still feel like this:

“I’m in a glass case of EMOTIOOON!”

My daily mood usually includes a rollercoaster of the following:

Oh my God I miss having money!

Why can’t the UK sites post all the f*cking visa information in one place?!

Ugh. I haven’t checked in with [[insert friend’s name here]]. I’m such a bad friend.

What if my cat has to poop during the flight to London?

Oh shit, I better start working on my vows soon.

Did I mention I miss having money?

If I think about it too much, I start to freak out. I can’t imagine what a typical day will be like 3 or even 6 months from now. And that’s as terrifying as it is thrilling.

I know I’ll be homesick. I’ll miss my family and friends. I’ll be complaining about the cold, and how London’s food sucks compared to Cali. And how I can’t find corn tortillas in the grocery stores. And how nobody at work understands my Cali slang and I feel “hella” out of place.

But I’ll make Skype dates to cure my homesickness. And I’ll make friends to go to brunch and happy hour with. Life will go on.

I’ll lift hard at the gym, annoy my cat by singing made-up songs about him, decorate our new flat, learn to use British English and the metric system, kick ass at my new job, and probably invade a few London Yelp Elite parties.

And if the universe blesses us, I may even become a mum <3.


In London’s Oxford Circus last January. I’ll be calling this place home soon.

The truth is, I don’t really know what it’s going to be like. I can put on a brave face better than anyone, but I’m calling myself out right now and admitting that I’m nervous scared. But it is because of this fear that I know that this is exactly what I need to do. Because my most beautiful, significant transformations happened when I yanked myself out of the familiar and into the unknown.

So I can’t stop now.

All the traveling and soul searching from the past year and a half, it was all just a dress rehearsal. This is what I’ve been preparing for. This is real life. If I don’t make the leap and practice what I preach, then all of it would have been an act.

That’s the thing about rewriting the movie of your life. Nobody is gonna write the script for you.

So here we go…

And we’re live in three, two, one…

Growing Pains: Trading Short-Term Gratification for the Life You Really Want: London, UK – May 2014

Now that I’m back in my second home with the man I love, I get to unpack, and establish some semblance of a routine again.

So why is there a lingering sadness in me?

I guess I expected that by now, I would’ve had this grand epiphany about the rest of my life. But right now, I have more questions than answers. And the uncertainty is crushing me. I started to let the pressure take me a dark place.

But I’ve been here before. The sleepless nights, the constant knot in my stomach…it’s all part of the process. These growing pains are a familiar struggle I’ve come to love and hate.

This is the part where you may be tempted to turn around and go right back to your safe zone…to the familiar. But you have to just suck it up and keep going. Otherwise it’s like hiking halfway up a mountain and then stopping to wonder, “Wait. What if I don’t make it?”

Well shit. You made it this far, haven’t you?

Besides, you can’t lay claim to what you almost did. You have to be willing to go through the discomfort and the fear that things probably won’t turn out the way you envision them.

But that’s okay. Just do you. In fact, if most people approve of the decisions you’re making, you’re probably not living your path.

The people around you should think you’re at least a teensy bit batshit insane. Not everyone is gonna “get” you. But everyone isn’t living your life – you are.

Growth requires you to trade in short-term gratification for a long-term payoff. Not everyone is willing to wait, or sacrifice, or do what it takes to nurture their goals over time in order to watch them bloom…

Like spending your weekends partying instead of studying
Spending instead of saving
Or settling for Mr/Ms Right Now when you want Mr/Ms Right

There’s nothing wrong with immediate gratification. The problem is when you become a slave to it and then complain about how you don’t have the life you want.

So what are my growing pains about?

I’m coming down off my travel high and coming to terms with the fact that I can’t travel like this forever – and honestly, I don’t want to. Travel was my short-term gratification.

I’m also approaching the end of my six-month limit in the UK, so I’m about to feel the full brunt of a true long-distance relationship.

But damn…

How am I supposed to go home and get a normal job and be away from the man I love (again)? Seriously, fuck immigration laws right now. I hate that I can’t live where I want to without the government’s permission.

To find your soulmate is a gift. But to find them on the other side of the world is either a cruel joke played on you by the universe, or an immense test to your resilience, your faith, and your resolve as a couple. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s both.

Six months.

That’s all the time the UK government gives “tourists” like me to stay in London without a settlement visa. So here we go again – counting down the days we have left with each other before we have to say goodbye again. Back to middle-of-the-night Skype convos, I miss you’s, and countdowns to the next visit.

It takes an immense amount of faith and patience to see these growing pains through. And although “winging it” has been my M.O., it won’t work for an international relationship. You can’t just casually hang out and see where things go. You either take legal steps to be together, or you don’t. You’ll either make the relationship a priority every single day, or it will die off.

One of you will have to leave their world behind in order to make the other person their new world.

These growing pains are real. But I know they’re testing us and building us into an unstoppable, unbreakable force. This payoff will be greater than anything I ever rushed into. That I’m sure of.

So to my friends in Cali…if you ever catch me gazing off into space, glancing at my phone, or smiling with my mouth but not with my eyes…it’s because half of me is 5500 miles away.

And I’m just holding it together as best I can.

Memoire of the Traveling Chucks

IMG_7775.PNGOf all the items sitting in your closet or dresser right now, is there one that has an exceptional story to tell?

Maybe it’s a ring that was passed down from your grandmother to your mom to you.

Or the SF Giants shirt you’ve worn for a week straight during the last three World Series they’ve won. Forget Panda or MadBum, you just know they’ve won because of that raggedy t-shirt. You have newer shirts, without the beer stains and tug marks, but they don’t have that same story to tell.

Mine are my classic black Chuck Taylors.


Dublin, Ireland

I bought them before I left for Europe. I needed a pair of shoes that I could wear with almost anything. Because when you’re living out of a suitcase and lugging it onto planes, trains and subways, every single thing in your bag needs to serve a purpose.

So if you’re that chick who brings 5 pairs of shoes to a weekend getaway, this life is not for you.

In my Chucks I could stand in crowded trains in London during rush hour, climb three flights of stairs to my flat in Barcelona with bags of groceries, and hike the hills of Cinque Terre.

When I traveled alone, those damn shoes ended up in a lot more of my photos than I did! I hated taking selfies. I felt so awkward. And I felt even MORE awkward asking a complete stranger to take my picture.

So I took “shoe selfies”: My Chucks in front of the docks at Riomaggiore, my Chucks at Parc Guell in Barcelona, my Chucks on beautiful sidewalks in Nice and Dublin.


Nice, France

My shoe selfies may not be the most Instagram-worthy pictures.

In fact, I never posted most of the photos I took. But when I look at those busted-up Chucks, with the faded laces and scuff marks, I smile.

I smile remembering the places they’ve taken me. I smile thinking about how I got sick of wearing the same 7 outfits but somehow, my Chucks went perfectly with all of them. I never got tired of wearing them.

Even on those nights when I took myself on a date, and sat at a brasserie alone on a Thursday night with my glass of Sangiovese, I wore my Chucks. And I gave a satisfied smile as I watched droves of club-hopping high-heeled girls stumble on the cobblestone roads, like drunken little newborn fawns.

I can’t do that shit anymore. Because COMFORT > EVERYTHING. I’ll bust out some heels every now and then, but not when I travel.

My Chucks may not be sexy. They may not be classicly feminine. But I was wearing those Chucks the day I met my fiancé in London last year, paired with a backwards snapback cap by FR£SH State Property.

And he thought I was so damn fly, he put a ring on it. Psshhh. **flips hair**

Now that I’m back in Cali, I’m afraid to wear them. I don’t want to erase the adventures they’ve had.


Parc Guell, Barcelona

Maybe I’ll just keep them in my closet, until a new journey comes calling. Or maybe I’ll give them to my (unborn) daughter one day, when she tells me how she wants to experience other worlds besides her own.

And I hope they bring her the same magic.



No your worth: Why saying “no” is key to getting the life you want


The power of “no” is undeniable. It takes courage to say because it isn’t always well-received. And there’s always that little doubt in your head about whether you’re doing the right thing.

Too often, we stay in unhappy situations until some outside force intervenes. We wait for other factors to close those doors for us and push us in the direction we should have taken on our own. But why leave that “no” in the hands of other people?

The term “blessing in disguise” is often used to describe an outside force that comes into your life and shakes things up, driving you in a positive direction that you wouldn’t have otherwise taken. If what you have in front of you isn’t what you want, save yourself by saying no. Don’t wait for a blessing in disguise because it will probably never come.

That’s why “no” is so powerful. Think about this:

How many times have you said yes to relationship standards that fell short of your expectations

…to a friend who asked for favors but wouldn’t do the same in return

…or to a job you hated because you were afraid you couldn’t find better?

Saying no means taking control of what you will not accept, and not leaving that decision to someone else.

Saying “no” requires not being driven by fear.

It often means rejecting an option even when you have no alternative to trade it in for, like ending a relationship or a friendship without having another set or arms to run to.



Why embracing the power of “no” can change the course of your life:

Dating and relationships: You’ve probably made the mistake of hanging on to a partner who didn’t want the same thing as you, or subscribed to relationship standards that didn’t make you happy. It’s not that you should get what you want all the time because that’s unrealistic – but there should always be reciprocity and an equal, consistent commitment to each other’s happiness.

You have to know when to invest and when to walk away. And if you’re waiting until you find someone else to fall madly in love with you and show you what you’ve been missing, you’re doing it wrong.

Relationships aren’t like jobs – you can’t interview for a new one while holding on to the one you have. And if you are, you’re not ready to be in a relationship in the first place.

Don’t be afraid to stand on your own and end relationships that don’t meet your standards. In fact, by latching on to the wrong one, you’re guaranteeing your own misery by ensuring you’re unavailable to recognize and receive the right one.

Friendships: On a similar note as the above, your 30s are a time to say “no” to friendships of superficiality or convenience. Every friend should enhance your life in some way.

Friends should do for you as you do for them, not just when it’s convenient or when they need something. The key, again, is reciprocity. If you’re doing your part and they’re not, the word you need to remember is “no”. Free up time in your life from superficial relationships so you can dedicate time to those who enrich your life.

Personal development: It took me until now to become fit and healthy. Not because I didn’t know how to before, but because I preferred eating what I wanted, and sleeping in instead of working out.Me-On-A-Diet

A sign of maturity is putting less value on short-term gratification. The most worthwhile payoffs are not immediate. They take time, effort and discipline.

Sometimes that means saying “no” to a destination wedding invitation because you’re trying to save money for a car or house, or to a California burrito at 2am because you’re trying to eat healthier.

Jobs: Jobs are SO much like relationships! And that makes the job search process a lot like dating. If you’ve gone through the interview process recently, you know what I mean.

Many of the same rules apply. You have to know what you bring to the table and what you expect from the other party (your employer). If you treat the interview like a first date rather than an audition, you’ll be a little more real with yourself about whether this is a job you actually want rather than trying to blindly sell yourself into something that may not be the best match for you.

Pay attention to the warning signs because how a company treats candidates during the interview process is reflective of how they treat their employees:

Do they value your time? Do they treat the interview like an audition (one-directional) or a conversation (two-directional)? Are they transparent with their information or do they treat you like a poker opponent? If it feels like you’re forcing it, you probably are.

Baby dressed in professional office attire crying at her desk



Above all, remember…

If a situation doesn’t feel right or it doesn’t serve you, don’t be afraid to say no.

The hardest part is having the confidence to realize that your options are not limited to what’s in front of you at that moment, because you can create new options.

If you let fear drive your decisions, the right people/opportunities will never make their way into your life because you’ll be too busy trying to put a Band-Aid on the “yeses” that should have been “no’s”.

Street dreams are made of these: Why street markets are a MUST for your travel itinerary

A feast for the senses with a hefty dose of local culture, there’s no better way to put your finger on the pulse of the city’s heartbeat than getting lost in the sensory experience that is the local street market.

Farmers markets, flea markets, vintage, mercantile – and I love them all. Each has its own set of distinct and unique treasures. I can only attest to the ones I’ve been to, but there are countless others I can’t wait to explore!

Here are some of my favorite European street markets from the past year.


Barcelona, Spain

La Boqueria: Produce, meat, seafood, confectionsLaBoqueria_Produce

Located steps from Barcelona’s famous La Rambla, La Boqueria is my favorite street market by far. Because I’m from a big city (San Francisco), it spoke to my love of chaotic anonymity. I’m used to pushing my way through loud, densely-packed urban areas; yet traversing this market alone is the only way to let your eyes and nose lead the way.

The moment you set foot in La Boqueria, your senses are consumed. A thousand voices fill the air at once. Vendors have mastered the art of the two-second sale as they shout prices at passersby, so be aware that making eye contact or lingering at a stall is an invitation for a sales pitch.

LaBoqueria_crowdWhether you’re in the mood for empanadas a la carte, artisanal candy by the ounce, dates by the box, or Crema Catalan-filled chocolate eggs by the handful, you won’t leave hungry. It’s also an excellent place to shop for local produce, seafood, meats and spices. I distinctly remember stands with colorful fruit smoothie cups stacked high with every combination imaginable– the fluorescent pink pitaya-coconut juice was my favorite.

Open Monday – Saturday from 8am-8:30pm. Visit for more information.


  • Arrive an hour before closing for the best deals. As vendors begin to close up shop they are more inclined to slash prices since they dump much of their merchandise at day’s end.
  • The better deals are often in the back stalls.


London, UK

Borough Market: For conscious foodiesBoroughMarket_London

Tucked beneath the southern end of London Bridge, Borough Market is a foodie’s paradise. You can find produce, fresh seafood, meat and delicacies from around the world but it’s so much more. As one of the oldest markets in London, it’s a cultural melting pot of vendors and visitors alike.

Whether you’re in the mood for deep fried squid, cranberry bleu cheese, lemon-lime basil ice cream, organic veggie burgers or crumb cake from Cinnamon Tree Bakery, the only problem you’ll have is having only one stomach to fit it all.

Opening times vary depending on the day – the full market is open Wednesday through Saturday with select stalls open on Monday and Tuesday. Visit for details.


  • Take your lunch to Southwark Cathedral, which isn’t just the beautiful backdrop for this market, it’s also a perfect place to snag a bench and enjoy your lunch among its pink blossomed trees and grassy courtyard. The cathedral is open to the public but food is, of course, not allowed inside.
  • Free wifi is available in Market Hall, the green house area near the restrooms.

Portobello Road Market: For those who want it allPortobelloRdHomes

Portobello Road in London is really multiple markets in one, especially on Saturdays when you can shop the full lineup of stalls (select stalls are open on other days).PortobelloMarket

To accommodate the crowds, Portobello Road closes to vehicle traffic as vendors spill onto the road displaying everything from clothes, coveted British antiques, accessories, street food, vinyl records, and used books.

The Portobello Road market runs from the Notting Hill Gate tube station to Ladbroke Grove station and opens around 8:30- 9am. Closing times vary depending on the day of the week. Visit for details.


  • Food stalls are concentrated toward the Ladbroke Grove end.
  • Get there early to avoid the largest crowds.


Florence, Italy

Mercato Centrale: Food and leather galoreMercatoCentrale

This market spans multiple blocks, with the outdoor stalls featuring mostly leather goods (jackets, bags, belts), luggage and various apparel.

The inside of the market is basically a food lovers/chefs heaven. Not only can you find colorful, fresh produce and exotic meat, but you can also enjoy freshly prepared porcetta sandwiches, pasta, pizza and wine from Porky’s or one of the other restaurants.

Beware though, the lines can get crazy! But that’s how good the food is. And because of the crowds, it tends to be difficult to get acknowledged so you have to be aggressive and get there early.

It’s dog friendly so bring your pups if you have them. And most stalls only accept cash.


  • Free wifi and pay toilets inside.
  • Dogs are allowed in the market, surprisingly.


Rome, Italycampo-de-fiori-market

Campo De’Fiori Market: Food, flowers and produce

This market is the biggest and most famous in the city. Bring plenty of Euros and put your game face on, cause you’ve never haggled until you’ve successfully negotiated a suitcase down from 50 to 25 euros. I know, I’ve done it in Italy TWICE 🙂

My tactic is to ask for prices, compare the different stalls, then act unimpressed at whatever price they give and walk away. Come back later, or the next day, and they’ll sell it to you for whatever you want.

Eataly and streetside mercantile market: Clothing, jewelry, vintage accessories

I don’t know the exact name of this market but it’s located just outside of Eataly near the Piramide metro station and Ostiense bus stop. This street market features clothiers and jewelry makers offering one-of-a-kind gems. If you want to bring home a unique piece of Italy, check this place out. I snagged two vintage rings which were made from the repurposed buttons of 1960’s Chanel coats!

While you’re there, do yourself a favor and wander around Eataly, a culinary funhouse with four floors of Italian delicacies including a handful of restaurants. I participated in a food show filming on the top floor when I was there in October!

Mercatino: Vintage home décor and collectibles

I still remember tearing myself away from the black crystal chandelier I so fell in love with here. With aisles of densely stacked antique furniture, record players, silverware, tea sets, crystal vases and antique China, Mercatino is a vintage-lover’s dream.

If I lived in Rome, I would furnish my entire house from Mercatino. I would serve my guests Sangiovese from my vintage purple crystal wine glasses, on my 1930’s wrought-iron side table, beneath my sexy black chandelier. It would be fabulous as f*ck.

So next time you plan a trip and someone says, “Bring me back something nice!” hit up a street market and blow their minds with a unique piece of the city.

…because nobody really likes cheesy shot glasses and refrigerator magnets. They just pretend to.

The Caged Bird Sings but it Cannot Fly: London, UK – May 1

Girl Gone International, GGI, Spread MyWings and Fly


It’s time, once again, for this little birdie to fly. Only this time, I’ll be in my second home so I’ll be staying put for a while.

Getting to London was hectic, as I wanted to avoid London Heathrow Border Control who had interrogated me several times before. According to them, I’m a flight risk because I’m unemployed and stay with my British boyfriend. **exaggerated eye roll**

So I flew from Florence to Paris, then took the Metro across town to catch the Eurostar train into London. I allowed very little timing for error. So naturally, I had nightmares about missing one of my connections.

But it all worked out. I even got to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, each in a different country…no big deal or whatever :))


I made it look pretty on Instagram, but traveling this way is anything but glamorous. When you’re hauling ass across three countries in a day, on public transit, sweating from dragging your 18-kg luggage up and down the metro station stairs, let’s just say you don’t look sexy. At all.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Hotels and taxis remove you from the reality of the country you’re visiting.

I’ve loved the adventure, the need for self-reliance, and the unpredictability of it all. When I publish my book someday, or become the VP of marketing at a tech startup and I’m ballin’ outta control, I would still travel the same way I do now.

I get a rush from traveling like this…

…from having to figure out how home appliances work in every country.

…from having to learn a new metro system.

…from struggling with a new language and stalking out free wifi like groupies do NBA players.

I’m forever changed. A fire ignited in me last year and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put it out, nor do I want to.

I read an article last year called “Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels”.

It painted a portrait of the solo female traveler as this beautiful free-spirited, yet completely unattainable creature. The author went so far as to suggest that if you should fall in love with such a girl you should let her go, as if it were impossible for any man to keep us happy.

Although I can relate to parts of the article, I disagree with the author’s view that the traveling girl woman is directionless, unable to hold a steady job, wasted her college degree and is now probably a yoga teacher.

Have we progressed so little as a society that we still view “independence” and “relationship potential” as mutually exclusive traits in women?

Women aren’t your possessions. Even in a relationship or a marriage, we are not yours. We are ours. We choose to be with you so long as you continuously honor the expectations of the relationship, and vice versa.

And if you aren’t comfortable standing next to us in the spotlight or letting us lead sometimes, then I agree you should seek a woman who is comfortable taking your lead.

Besides, I have no intentions of living my entire life out of a suitcase. As much as my heart yearns to watch the sun set on a new horizon, I yearn even more for one city to call home.

And guess what? I’m living proof that women like us can and do fall in love.

It happened to me on my first day in London last year. Trust…I did not intend to! In fact, I was dead set on beating any love prospects away with a stick…and possibly a taser.


I was on my “I-don’t-need-a-man” Independent Woman hype. The last thing I wanted was to fall in love overseas and then miss that person when I returned home.

My emotional walls were up pretty high. Most men would have been intimidated by that. Here I was, a California latina “slash” hip-hop journalist, with my camera and laptop in tote, with enough money in the bank to have open-ended travel plans for the foreseeable future.

What could any guy really say to me to get me to want to trade all of that in for a relationship?

That’s why nobody tried. I interviewed a lot of male artists, kept it professional, and met a lot of interesting and incredibly talented people in the process.

But it’s as if Jordan already knew we were going to be together, even before I did. He was patient and accepted that I wasn’t ready for anything serious (yet).

He didn’t want to cage me, but he made his feelings very clear from Day #1 so there was never any guessing about where he stood. He was never afraid to put his heart on the line – not for one second. He was a totally open book.

He wasn’t threatened by my independence, my prior divorce, my travel plans, or my residence in California.

He let me be me.

Yet he treated me like his Queen even before we were in a relationship. Over time, his actions and his consistency made it so that I could live without him, but I no longer wanted to. Over the next few months, we found ourselves willing to do anything to be together.

When I first started traveling, I predicted I’d end up in Barcelona or London getting some Expat job for a work visa. Meeting Jordan changed all that because we had to decide, early in our relationship, which of us would move. After spending a few months with him in London, we both decided we’d be happier together in California.

I look forward to settling down in Cali. And as strange as it may sound, I’m ready to get back to my marketing career as it’s something I‘ve worked hard to build.

But my sense of adventure, my desire to explore new street markets, watch sunsets on the beach, or get lost in the winding streets of a new city – that will remain in me always.

I smile when I admire my tan lines and know they came from different countries. My hair is frizzy and often smells of sea salt. My iPhone camera roll would rival a travel magazine. And my Facebook News Feed is full of updates from people I’ve met around the world.


And it may mean my heart will never be fully at rest because it lives in different places, but I’m okay with that.

After all, that is the downside to all of this. I’m always missing a person, a city, or counting down the days I have left with someone I love before I have to leave them. But that also means I don’t take anyone or anything for granted.

So to the author who believes that girls women who travel are basically a lost cause when it comes to relationships, I say:

I happen to think the wildest, most beautifully plumaged bird is also the most worthwhile to pursue…

…because you can’t trap it.

You must earn its trust and affection over time so that it may choose to fly beside you, rather than sacrifice its world for yours. I was a man’s possession for over a decade and would sooner die than return to that life again.

Now that I’m back in London I get to unpack my suitcase, figure out my game plan for Cali, and spend much-needed time with the man who makes me want to fly beside him every day.

To all the men/women who hold a mirror to their woman’s light to help it reflect into the corners of the darkest room: bless you. You will raise daughters who will enter the world with all the approval they will ever need, rather than seeking it from a partner, friends, social institution, or media-warped society.

She will know her worth and her beauty. And she will never need to know why the caged bird sings…

because she will be f r e e .

Through the Fire(nze): Florence, Italy – April 23


One of my favorite shots from the whole trip: Ponte Vecchio is stunning.

I don’t think that Firenze (Florence) knows how to do “plain”. Everything is lavish and over the top.

It’s lively and bustling…and LOUD. I had to learn to stop being alarmed every time I thought I heard Italians having a heated debate. They were just having normal conversations. But with passion. And lots of hand motions. As a Latina I totally get you, Italy. We do that, too.

Like, Latina women are guilty of wearing too-small skinny jeans with rhinestones on the butt, paired with a stretchy neon orange low-cut top and heels.
…to the grocery store
…while pushing a kid in a stroller.

I saw a girl in Rome wear bright green Ugg boots with leopard leggings and gold hoop earrings…
Go ahead. Do you, boo.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised at how many tourists there are, seemingly mostly Americans. Holy crap they’re EVERY-fricking-where! I know I’m technically one of them, but I’d like to think of myself as more of a tourist ninja cause nobody ever knows I’m a foreigner.


And between The Jersey Shore filming at Pizzeria O’Vesuvio and the KimYe (Kim Kardashian/Kayne) wedding all taking place here, I’m pretty sure Italians secretly wish Americans and our shitty reality TV shows would stay the hell out.

I feel you, Italy. We think they’re douchebags too.


And while Florence might signify art and culture to most, I made it an adventure.

You can keep your 7 euro Gucci coffee with fancy sugar. I prefer haggling with street vendors and drinking Fragola liqueur straight from the bottle.

Firenze in a nutshell:

  • Taking a chance on Fragola liqueur instead of Limoncello and discovering it tastes like strawberry Quik with booze in it. Sweet Jesus.
  • Making fun of people who spend 7 euros on coffee at the Gucci Museum Café because it’s served with brown sugar shaped like the Gucci symbol.
  • Girls taking selfies kissing the Gucci sign outside the museum. Girl, STOP.GucciSignKiss
  • Girls taking pictures of each other pointing to the Statue of David’s penis.
  • Successfully haggling street vendors down from 40 to 25 euros for a new suitcase.
  • Checking out girls’ asses and wondering which have more booty: Barca girls or Firenze girls.
  • Gaining 8 lbs and immediately wanting to work out console myself with more pizza.
  • Getting neck cramps from looking up at the gorgeous domed ceilings of Orsanmichele, Santa Croce and Santa Maria di Fiore.Churches
  • Aggressive street vendors who insist on touching the small of your back while they try to glance at your ass sell you a leather bag.
  • Leather as far as the eye can see – belts, jackets, bags, wallets, you name it. In EVERY color.
  • Fake designer shades fo’ days. You need some Fucci shades, boo? They got you! Unless the cops are coming, cause then they gotta pack up and run.
  • Falling in love with Mercato Centrale, where the best food stands have the longest lines.
  • Reaching the front of the line and being shouted at by a little old Italian lady trying to seat you.
  • Feeling strangely comforted by the above.
  • Amazing street musicians in Piazza della Repubblica.MercatoCentrale
  • Italian couples making out. EVERYWHERE.
  • Best gelato ever. Bless you, Grom.
  • Getting so tired of pizza and pasta that I went to McDonalds and ordered on a machine. Because every single McDonalds I saw in Europe replaced their cashier with machines.
  • Knowing you would all judge me for admitting I ate McDonalds in Italy.

I felt a little guilty not visiting the museums, but given that I had done so in every other city, I didn’t have it in me to do anything other than eat and wander.

No matter how gorgeous the destination, traveling alone wears on you after a while. I feel like I didn’t fully appreciate my time here because I’m just so tired.

Next stop, London! It’s time to go home to my boo and enjoy not living out of a suitcase for a while. That sounds like heaven right now.

But seriously, once I’m there it’s GYM time. Like HARD.

Cause after all these months of careless eating, my ass is gonna need its own passport to get home.

Being Bulletproof: Florence, Italy – April 21


And just like that, I said goodbye to Cinque Terre. My time there was way too short, but that’s how it should feel when you fall in love – like your time together is never enough.

I arrived in Florence with a newfound optimism. Despite a wheel breaking on my suitcase and having to drag it three blocks from the train station to my AirBnB, I laughed it off and made a mental note to buy a new one from a street vendor later.

My AirBnB host is out of town so his neighbor let me in. She didn’t speak English but between my fluent Spanish and minimal Italian, we completely understood each other. Long story short, I have a three-bedroom flat in central Florence all to myself – buonissimo!

It’s amazing that AirBnB hosts will allow complete strangers into their homes, especially when they are out of town.

I’ve noticed hospitality is different in every country. In England, France, Ireland and Holland, my hosts were fairly hands off. It was their way of giving me privacy. But in Spain and Italy, my hosts treated me like a member of their household.

On my last night in Barcelona, my three flatmates and their friends cooked a huge dinner and invited me to join them.

In Cinque Terre, my host called me down to her kitchen to eat dinner with her and her daughter. And on my last day, she dropped me off at the train station so I wouldn’t have to drag my suitcase onto a bus.

In Rome last year, my host took me to a cooking class at Eataly and then we had lunch and chatted all afternoon.

When I was stranded in Ventimiglia during the train strike, a group of friends saw me sitting alone at a cafe and invited me to join them for dinner and bar hopping, during which the men insisted on paying for everything.

Seriously, who ARE these people?!

This sort of blind, unconditional welcome is foreign to me. It’s foreign to most Americans, I think. We tend to begin new relationships with a wall built up, which we lower slowly over time. We often keep people at a distance until we get to know them.

I had to learn that not everyone who does something nice for me wants something in return.

Sometimes we focus so much on protecting ourselves from the “wrong” people that we prevent the right people from getting close to us, too.

But living life on the defense only works when you’re under attack.

When you’ve been hurt a lot, you get accustomed to wearing that armor every day. I know that all too well.

I tend to say things like, “This is why I hate people.”

But what I really mean is, “I hate being disappointed so I would rather expect the worst from people.”

The truth is, I’m so sensitive and easily hurt that I’ve mastered the art of using cynicism and sarcasm as an emotional bulletproof vest..

…although I prefer to call it my sense of humor.


And you know why sarcasm is f*cking awesome?

Because you can say whatever the hell you want without being held accountable…because you were obviously kidding.

Or because you can break the ice in awkward social situations and make people laugh…or offend them. It’s their fault if they don’t get it.

Or because nobody can hurt you because you never really told them anything real about you. You can’t hurt me because you don’t know me. Haha I win.

I’m so sarcastic that people who know me expect it from me. It’s part of my personality. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of my non-American friends think I’m either a complete idiot or a total bitch based on my Facebook posts…

Just kidding. They think that because I really am a bitch.

See? I can’t even tell the difference between sarcasm and my real thoughts anymore. And that’s bad.

My blog needs more cats. And this one speaks the truth.

My blog needs more cats. And this one speaks the truth.

I instantly bond with other sarcastic people but I have probably pushed a lot of others away or given them a bad impression of me.

It could be because of the language barrier, but I’ve stopped using sarcasm during my travels because it is often taken literally. It’s refreshing because I can’t use it as a shield anymore. I’m getting comfortable speaking genuinely, even if it makes me feel vulnerable.

This experience has opened me up so much.

Being spoken to with sincerity makes me want to be sincere.

Being trusted by strangers makes me want to prove I am trustworthy.

Being invited to the dinner table makes me want to welcome new people into my life.

Getting hurt is not the worst thing that can happen. In fact, the bravest are those who have had pages torn from their lives yet remain an open book. They are the ones I admire most.

So lower your armor.

Until you do, you’re living life from inside a bulletproof case. Sure, people can’t get to you. But you can’t get to any of them either.

P.S. I went off on a tangent and didn’t talk about Florence at all in this post, but I will next time. Here are a few photos from my Instagram (, but I promise you it’s more gorgeous than anything I could capture. 


Because I’m Happy: Cinque Terre, Italy – April 18

The universe has been speaking to me more and more lately.

The more trust I’ve placed within myself, the more the universe guides and provides for me. Some may call it God, but I just know it’s a force greater than all of us.

After wallowing in loneliness and anxiety for a couple of days, all of a sudden, the storm was over.

It happened in an instant.

The sun’s rays broke through the clouds and fed the hungriest corners of my soul, and a sense of peace and immense gratitude replaced the parts of me where uncertainty once resided.

In one spontaneous moment, the universe spoke to me through the innocence of a child and showed me why I was here – and it’s the same reason why we are all here on this Earth.

“Umm, are you talking about the meaning of life? Cause THAT sounds a little cray.”

Weeeeell, I wouldn’t go that far. I don’ t want y’all to think I’ve completely lost my shit. I obviously don’t have all the answers – I’m only beginning to discover my answers. But they could be yours, too.

Let me explain.

I kept letting things get to me the past few days. It all started when I arrived in Cinque Terre a day late due to the Italian train strike. And when I finally arrived and felt how life-changing this place was going to be, I wished I had another day to soak it all in. I felt cheated.

To top it off I was exhausted from country-hopping for the past two months, and the mild discomfort of living in other people’s homes was wearing on me. I felt like I was squandering away this beautiful experience by focusing on the negatives – by focusing on what I didn’t have.


Monterosso’s beach is magic

I continued making my way through Cinque Terre’s five villages, and on my final day I visited Monterosso and Corniglia.

Monterosso’s beaches were sunny and gorgeous. I didn’t have a swimsuit but I didn’t think twice to strip down and sunbathe as hang gliders jumped from the cliffs and landed on the beach in front of me.

With my earbuds in and Spotify on, I observed my own personal paradise to the tune of a hip hop soundtrack.


Some plots of land in Corniglia remain in rubble like this one, while the home behind it still stands.

A few tanlines later, I hopped back on the train and traveled further down the coast to Corniglia, a village perched high on the Ligurian cliffsides with no beach access.

I walked around the village and noticed it was still recovering from damage caused by the floods and mudslides of 2011. Many of the structures were still being rebuilt.

Seeing as this village was still under construction, it seemed less picturesque compared to the others.

Selfishly, I wished I had ventured to Vernazza instead, or back to Riomaggiore or Manarola which had captured my heart. Since I only had three full days in Cinque Terre, I felt pressured to make use of every moment. I didn’t want to “waste time”, which in retrospect, is a very American way of thinking.

After walking through Corniglia and snapping some photos, I stopped for dinner. I claimed a table in a rustic little courtyard in front of this dilapidated church covered in scaffolding. I sipped my wine and observed the people around me.IMG_2012

All of a sudden, I hear a familiar song. It’s a song I had heard in several countries during this trip, but it didn’t resonate with me until now.

“It might seem crazy what I’m bout to say…

Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break..”

Pharrell’s song “Happy” flooded the courtyard, and a toddler at a nearby table lept out of his mother’s lap to dance!

Soon, the courtyard united in laughter, watching him shake his little diaper butt. I wanted to tell the boy’s family how much their son had made my day, but all I could mutter was “Bambino prezioso.”

They spoke no English, yet an American song transcended language and made us all feel the song’s message: happiness.

Then I started thinking about how I had also heard “Happy” at Placa Nova in Barcelona. A little boy wearing a Messi jersey stopped kicking his soccer ball around to dance, while his father watched and smiled. And in Brighton, England, a cover band sang it at a beachside cafe and people stopped eating to grab their friends by the hand to dance to it.

So what does it all mean?


The rays of light peeking through this dark alleyway in Corniglia was another reminder to follow my sunshine…my Happy.

Well, on my walk back to the Corniglia train station, I played the song on my Spotify app and listened closely to the lyrics, with the gorgeous cliffsides of Corniglia as my backdrop.

I was inspired. I can’t explain why, but it hit me so hard.

Tears started streaming down my face from behind my shades. My pent-up anxiety and loneliness began to fade, because I felt like the song had been following me on this trip, cheering me on for finally living out my “Happy”.

I was doing what I had always been scared to do. To move away from San Francisco and leave family, friends, my career, and put myself in an unknown situation where I could fail, and fail hard. Because I didn’t have a plan, but “winging it” kinda was my plan.

It was then I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be.

What I realized is…

The purpose of life isn’t to struggle and sacrifice and shut out our sense of adventure so that we can be happy someday. Life is happening around us, all the time. And most days, we miss living because we’re too busy merely existing.

… too busy commuting to a job we hate, face-down in our smartphones, surrounded with people who don’t inspire us or reciprocate our efforts, participating in obligatory activities, forcing smiles, faking enthusiasm.

And we become good at it. So good, that even we believe the lies we tell ourselves.

Day after day, doing the same thing…

Usually the safe thing…

Usually the predictable, familiar thing.

All for what?

So we can work our way up at a job to maybe get a raise that we’ll probably end up spending anyway? So we can have people around us to pass the time with so we’re not alone? So we can avoid failure by never trying?

I know this all too well. I spent my 20s working hard at things I thought would give me my Happy:
college, grad school, promotions at work, bought a house, got married…you know, typical stuff. And there’s nothing wrong with these things if you want them for the right reasons.

When I finally left my job I was raking in an enviable salary, even by San Francisco’s standards. But with every promotion, I allowed my lifestyle to become more expensive to compensate for the fact that I was missing something.

I was in a marriage where I felt like a shell of myself. I was his property and he controlled my body and mind. I spent over a decade feeling insecure and numb, living life on autopilot with a rehearsed smile.

From the outside, it looked like I had it all. But that was far from the truth.

The day I decided that starting over was less terrifying than staying on my current path is the day I began reclaiming my life.

I saw this quote just before I booked my flight to London last summer, and it resonates with me to this day: BirdTrustsInItsWings

Live your Happy today, not tomorrow or someday.

To think you can wait is presumptuous, because you may not be given the gift of tomorrow. It’s normal to procrastinate while you work up the courage to make a change, but after a while, the excuses get stale and you’re just using fear as a crutch.

If there’s something you’ve been talking about doing for years, why aren’t you actively working towards doing it? Because trust me, your friends and family are tired of hearing you talk about it already.

So shut up.

Stop talking about what you’re gonna do or what you should do and start doing it. Go chase after your Happy.

Before you go to bed tonight, do something that brings you closer to your Happy. Whether it’s browsing through job postings, taking a photography class, looking into licensing requirements for a new business, or making a long-overdue phone call to tell someone you forgive them.

Whatever it is, take a baby step towards it today.

Start by waking up every morning with gratitude for everything you love about your life, and a tenacious drive to change all that you don’t.

“Happiness is the truth”. And happiness waits for no one. Happiness chases no one. Not even you.