Benefits of Keeping a Journal

Latina Girl Writing - LatinitasKeeping a journal or diary is often painted in a poor light. It has probably had a bad wrap as the chore assigned to you in elementary school, and it sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but it can actually be very helpful and beneficial. If you are shy at the thought of really owning the concept, know that this does not have to be a public item. It does not have to be advertised to your peers that you reflect on paper, it can be a secret, and a happy one at that!

A journal or diary, whichever you prefer to call it, can bring personal comfort during times when you wish to meditate on things in a constructive manner. Consider this mental exercise where you can rid yourself of bad thoughts and stress. When you see your words on paper, it helps put things in perspective when you have pressing things on your mind. If you are preparing for a speech or difficult conversation, writing it down can help you be more articulate in your argument.  As they say, “practice makes perfect.” In this sense, writing anything down, even for fun and/or personal use, helps with articulating yourself in other non-journal writing.

Reflecting in your journal clears your mental clutter so that you can have a healthier head space. Writing down your thoughts, or anything you wish to keep in your journal helps as a cathartic release for pent up thoughts or emotions. Writing after an upsetting event can help you process your feelings and better understand how your thoughts and emotions connect. Outside of being a release, it can help with your mood by lifting your spirits. When you are feeling low, write down the things that you like the most about yourself. They can be anything from physical traits, to personality, or other things that you think you excel at.

With a documentation on your thoughts, wishes, dreams, daily life, or whatever you choose to write about, you can track your progress regarding goals that you might have. For example, writing about your goals in school and how you are making it every step of the way will help you in the long run when you see your steps laid down on paper in front of you. A journal is super helpful once you start planning your road to college!

The beautiful thing about keeping a personal journal is that you can do this whichever way and however often you like. Some will find that writing on a daily basis is very rewarding exercise and might choose to make it a part of their lives that often. Others might find that reflecting every couple of days, once a week, or even once a month is the best for them.

Fun Ways to Be Fit

While it may not be the thing that many of us look forward to doing, exercise is very important for living healthily. Being fit has countless benefits that assist in living well. Beyond getting some endorphins flowing and toning your body, exercise gives your muscles and bones better longevity when it comes to bodily wear and tear. Exercising regularly also helps with relieving stress and lifting a bad mood. The following are some ways to make fitness a fun and enjoyable habit:

1. Zumba

The hype surrounding this is here for a reason. These latin-dance inspired fitness classes offer fun and invigorating ways to be fit. Check your local dance studios and/or gyms to see if they offer classes. If you like dancing, these are the fitness classes for you.

2. At Home Workouts

For a workout without leaving the comfort of your home, look into YouTube for everything from yoga tutorials to weight training, and more. Find a fitness video for whatever you seek to do whether it be toning your core, or simply a new cardio workout. You can search for videos to work with equipment of your own, or find videos on tutorials for equipment-free workouts. Best of all, this is free!

3. Exercise With Friends

Pair up with a friend who will pledge to workout with you. Knowing that someone else expects you to take time to exercise with them is an incentive to keep doing it. It also helps if you share your goals with others. When you know that someone expect you to be held accountable for progress, it is more motivating than doing it alone.

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4. FitSugar

FitSugar is a site dedicated to keeping up with the best trends in fashion, cooking, lifestyle and fitness, of course. Find a variety of fitness videos for any kind of workout you wish. This is a fun site for a quick and easy selection of fun workout tutorials. The tutorials range from ten to forty-five minutes, and the routines are exciting and challenging. Within each video there are modified instructions for beginners, as well as more challenging routine instructions for those with more advanced fitness levels. If you have a pinterest account, you can find pins with links to the variety of fitness tutorials, or you can follow the board for constant updates.

Essentially, you can be fit on any budget and with any schedule. No matter how busy you get with school and other stressors, make sure you make time to be fit. You will find that it is one of the best things you can do for your body, it will help you stay healthy and happy and it is never too late to start.

Advice: Dealing with la Familia

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Family is family,  but every family is different. Some families were raised with two parents, some families might have none. Some families might have no brothers and sisters, and some families might not have a lot of money. And that’s ok.

Every family relationship is different. There is not one way in which a family should be. However, there are certain things that can be done to improve a family dynamic and make the family the best it can be.

One of the things a family can do to make sure the family structure is healthy is to have family dinners together with no television or cell phones. Nowadays, families that still gather around the family table tend to do it while watching television while having one hand on their cellphones and the other hand in their food. Make it a priority to have your parents stop what they are doing, or your younger siblings from playing video games, to gather around the dinner table and bond. This should be done at least once a week, but if possible, should be done once every day.

Another thing a family can do is to have family game nights. Whatever it maybe, have an activity your family can do together. It does not have to be movies! This can be trivia night, or Youtube video watching night, or fishing night. The possibilities are endless! Just find something that all of your family can have fun doing!

 If you find that your family might be going through some problems, it is not out of the ordinary. Do not be afraid to bring your concerns to the attention of your parents or guardians. If you think your family is not spending enough time together, tell your family that! If you feel as if your parents have been too busy with work, let them know.

If this does not work for you, do not be afraid to reach out to an adult. It is ok for your family not to be ok. Do not be afraid to talk to a counselor, teacher, or any other person about issues that your family might be going through.

This is especially true when it comes to your friends. While it might seem like your friends will not understand what you are going through, they will certainly try to make the effort to do so. Sometimes, your friends might be like a source of therapy for you. They will always be someone who is willing to listen. Sure, writing in a journal, or keeping your feelings to yourself is a bit more private, but your friends are people who are just like your family – they will love you no matter what.

 However, if you truly feel like this might not be something you can do, evoke your emotions into a story or poetry. Sometimes letting all your emotions out bring out a new set of emotions that can result in the creation of a beautiful painting or an amazing new song. If this feels uncomfortable to you though, sports are another source of therapy. Being around a group of people who are all passionate about something can provide an even bigger place for you to let out all your emotions.

Whatever the case may be, know that you are not alone. Your family is someone who will always love you, no matter how hard that might be to believe at times. Do not take advantage of them and try to work through all the kinks in your family relationship because when you are finally able to do so, your family relationship will be incredible.

Sizzling Makeup Tips

IMG_2729As we wrap up the end the end of summer, we have the need to keep fresh and sweat-free as long as humanly possible, and your face is no exception. And there are certain rules to live by during the summer for your best facial care. For example, when temperatures rise, it is far more comfortable to wear light makeup than to pack on the foundation.  As most trends in the summer go, your makeup routine should get lighter as well. This means no cakey foundation, and no mineral powder on top of your liquid or mousse foundation. Everything from your blush to your eyeshadows should change for maximum comfort. Read on for some simple tips and tricks on applying and wearing long-lasting makeup.

Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen is the holy grail of all things makeup. It should be the first thing you apply in your makeup routine, and you should never go a day without it. If you simply cannot give up your foundation routine, you can find some makeup that comes with a little bit of SPF protection. It is always best to have a base or primer in your makeup routine for lasting coverage, and you can use a moisturizer with sunscreen in place of that for the summer or year round. If you would prefer a sheer finish as opposed to medium or heavy coverage, try BB cream, or Beauty Balm cream. Every makeup brand has their own version, some with matte finishes, others with shine. Depending on your preference and skin type, you can find one that suits your skin for a natural summer look, or use during the rest of the year for light coverage throughout.

 Use Cream Eyeshadow

The most recent revolution in eye makeup is the lovely new, cake-free, long-wearing, cream eyeshadow. Maybelline has a lovely collection of varying shades, from vibrant teal to nude beige. You can wear these alone for some color that you can build by simply adding more, or you can use these as primers underneath powdered eyeshadow. The application is quick and easy- just dab your finger in the pot and gently rub onto your lid, spreading the color upward and onto your crease.

 Use Cream Blush

No summer makeup routine is complete without cream blush.  Swap your powdered blushes that appear cakey in the summer, for a light, cream blush for a more natural, dewy finish. Cream blushes can be applied the same way that cream eyeshadow is, using your fingers to spread it across the apples of your cheeks, or you can use a stippling brush to help you spread the color. However you choose to apply it, wearing this new trend in blush will leave you with a summery sun-kissed glow.

Try the Smudged Eyeliner Look

Clean lines and precision in the perfect cat eye is great, but when you want things shaken up a bit, and if you like the idea of “lived-in” liner, follow these simple steps for a eye liner with just the right amount of edge. I highly recommend doing this look with neutral, matte shadows since the eyeliner alone will be a lot of color. For this look you’ll need any color eyeliner that you wish to smudge, and a “C” eyeshadow brush which can be found at your local drugstore. I like to use e.l.f. brand brushes which are both inexpensive and good quality. The first step to achieving the smudged liner look is taking your regular pencil liner and lightly lining the top lash line. This line doesn’t have to be perfect since you’ll be smudging it, anyway, so don’t worry about precision.  You can also dab a little bit along the lower lash line for an even more smokey look, but if you prefer a cleaner look, just do it on the top. Once you have lined your eyes, take the “C” brush and swipe it across your lash line, effectively spreading and smearing the eyeliner. The longer you smudge, the lighter the color will be, and it will spread across your lid, eventually covering your eyeshadow, and this is a great day look, since the color will be diluted. If you keep the eyeliner only smudged along the lash line, you’ll have a darker, more smokey effect. If you decide to do the lower lash line, make sure to apply less eyeliner and smudge very little and very gently with the brush.

If you like these tips and tricks enough, keep them in mind for your makeup routine all year. I suggest changing your palette at the very least, from lighter and brighter colors, for example a shimmery peach blush, to a more matte or subtly shiny pink blush for the winter.  Eyeshadows colors in the summer usually lean towards neon or pastel colors for a look of airy lightness, and in the fall and winter seasons, you can trade those in for a more neutral and slightly darker palette.

Advice: Fixing BFF Troubles

Have you ever been in a sticky situation with your friend and you don’t know what to do or how to face it? Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s an extra hand to show you that you’re not alone. Fighting with your bff can be stressful, so what should you do when you and your friend(s) are not seeing eye-to-eye?

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I am fighting with my friend because she tells me what to do. Is it wrong of her to do that?

You shouldn’t let your friends tell you to do something you don’t want to; talk to her in a respectful manner and tell her you don’t like the way she treats you. Once you talk to her and if she doesn’t understand, she is not a real friend. Don’t let other people push you around. If she is really your friend, then she will understand that you are hurt and will need to stop treating you poorly.

I have a friend that does not hang out with our other friend. What can I do to fix it?

First, you should ask your friend why she doesn’t like hanging out with your other friend. If it’s a serious reason, for example: they had problems in the past, or because your other friend treated her with disrespect, then respect her decision and don’t force her to hang out if something happened between them. But if your friend doesn’t hang out with the other person only because they don’t know each other, then just tell your friend to give your other friend a chance to get to know one another instead of judging before hanging out. Hang out all together so that your friend can see what a good friend your other friend is, try talking about things they might have in common, make jokes, basically something to avoid awkward moments; sooner or later, they will end up talking to one another and becoming friends.

My best friend has been hanging out lately with another girl that I don’t like so much. Although I have never spoken to this girl, I don’t know if I should get mad or not. What should I do?

If the other girl is being a bad influence and is causing your bff to start acting negatively, talk to your best friend about your concerns. If this is not the case, talk to your best friend about possibly hanging out together so you can meet her. Even though your bff is hanging out with someone else, you’re still her best friend. Perhaps your best friend is hanging out with her because she’s a cool person. Give the girl a chance so that it doesn’t cause problems with your best friend in the future. You might end up liking the other girl.

 My friend and I were supposed to do a big project together. It was really important to me because it counts towards my grade, but for her it was voluntary for her class.  We had to work on it, but every time we tried to work together she didn’t feel like working. This frustrated me so much! My teacher says I have to think about what’s best for me. I am thinking of kicking her out of the group. What should I do? 

Try talking to her first to see if there is a reason why she’s not putting in the same effort. Explain to her that even though she’s not getting a grade the project is really important for you. Avoid yelling or accusing her of being lazy. Instead, talk to her nicely about her behavior and that if she doesn’t want to help out then you will have to take her name off of the project because it isn’t fair that you do all the work and she gets credit for it too.

Have an advice question you want answered by one of our teen writers? Send questions to mylatinitas@yahoo.com.

Tips for Talking to Mamá

tumblr_mjwvnxzOhf1qdlkkxo1_500One conflict young girls are faced during their pre-teens and well into their teenage year are conflicts with their mom. It is inevitable to not disagree with the woman that has always had the best interest in mind for you; the problem is not always being able to handle the situation the best way. When handling an argument with your mom, always  be honest and keep calm and listen.

Tell the Truth:

Believe me, losing the trust our mothers whole heartedly place in our hands is not worth it. Be responsible and think twice before deciding to lie to your mom. We think it is just a little white lie to say: “Hey mom, I’m going over to Sara’s house for a while,” when in reality you are going to see the guy you’ve had a crush on since the sixth grade. It is not worth it. Your mom has seen you grow up and has given you morals and values to live up to. My mom would always tell me, “I am your mother before I am your best friend,” to set a boundary. She basically told me I could trust her with everything I ever needed. This boundary is called respect and must always be honored; the moment you lie to your mom, you slowly begin to erase that line…. it is not worth it.

Keep Calm and Listen:

Always stay calm and listen to the point your mom is trying to get across to you. Think about the situation from her point of view, and then speak your mind. The basic “you don’t understand!” never works. Our mom is the biggest source of knowledge we, as girls, have, especially when we are still trying to figure who they really are. The pre-teen stage is perhaps the hardest stage of puberty for most girls. The pressures fitting in in society and being popular in school may seem like the biggest accomplishment, but it can sometimes be very overwhelming. This leads to hasty decision that can later have negative consequences.

All relationships are going to have conflicts once in while, but learning how to deal with them, instead of making them into bigger problems than what they are, is important. Whenever you don’t see eye to eye with your mom, relax and take a deep breath. There is always a solution without having to overreact and push our moms away from our lives.

School & Family Advice

advice
From one chica to the next, here’s some advice from boy drama to family issues. Everyone has problems every now and then, but the serious issues and the more personal ones have to be taken care of right away, especially when it comes to dealing with your family.

What should I do to stop bullying because I am being bullied at school?

 If you are being bullied, don’t be afraid to speak, stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone bully you around, you don’t deserve that, no one does. Try telling your teacher, the counselor, or your parents, they can always help you with problems, you are not alone.

I am going to a new school next year and I’m nervous and scared. What do I do?

Don’t worry about it, we all get nervous from time to time especially if we’re trying new things. Look at the bright side, you will meet more people and make new friends, just be friendly, be nice, and always be yourself. Who knows, you might meet your official best friend forever and you won’t even know it if you’re not yourself. It’s okay to be afraid or nervous, it’s natural on your first day, but once you get the hang of it you will love it even more than your last school!

My brother thinks he’s all that because he’s popular at school, he tells me what to do and that I am his servant, he bullies me a lot. He sometimes threatens to hit me if I don’t do what he says, what do I do?

You should start by telling your parents, you might think you’re being a ‘tattle teller’ but he is not supposed to do that, even if he’s your brother. You do not have to do what he says, stand up for yourself, don’t let him intimidate you, show him that you are not afraid of him, you are family, you’re supposed to protect and love one another, not the other way around. If he does try and hurt you in any way, don’t just sit there; tell someone immediately and ask for your parents’ help.

How can I stop my Tía from doing drugs with my baby cousin with her? I am scared for my baby cousin to get sick or die. Please, I need advice.

With something as delicate as this, you should try talking with your parents about it, don’t try and fix it yourself, look for help. You are a great person for caring so much about your family’s well-being and health, but you need to tell your parents to talk to your aunt. If your parents choose not to do anything about it, but you still feel like their life is at risk, talk to a professional. For example, you can try talking to your school counselor, she/he will help you out. Doing drugs is a life-threatening thing especially with a baby in the house, it shouldn’t be done, and you can help them by looking for professional help.

Stop Following and Start Leading

Be a community leader. Stop following and start leading.

It’s cool to donate your change to charity, but how about creating change? See a need in your community and address it. Don’t ignore the graffiti and litter, don’t complain about it either. Stand up and do something about it.

Pics 1845-2Community service is power. Power to change the world and make it a better place for others. A study done by the Corporation for National and Community Service found that about 64.3 million Americans, or 26.8 percent of the adult population, gave 7.9 billion hours of volunteer service worth $171 billion in 2011. The average value of a volunteer hour was estimated to be $21.79. Without volunteers, services for low income families would be impossible to obtain because of the high costs. Tutoring for example can cost up to $70 an hour, while a high school student can tutor for free for unlimited hours.

Community service does not only benefit the people receiving help, but also the volunteers. Volunteers are awarded many mind and body benefits including a wider sense of humility, increased confidence, increased happiness, increased fitness, and reduced risk of depression. Other benefits include skill development, friendship making, career experience, and fun. Crime rates also tend to go down in communities with active volunteers. Service integrates a community and connects people with one another. Anyone can volunteer male, female, black, white, old, young. It is never too early or too late. Whether it is creating a garden or cleaning a stream, volunteers are making a difference in their communities.

Get Involved

By accepting the challenge to create a change, you are also assuming the role as a leader. Leadership is the choice to step in and motivate others to accomplish a goal. It is great to do a good thing. Whether it is to pick up trash for an hour or to tutor one student after school once week, it is amazing to contribute to the community and want to do more. Don’t spend your whole afternoon by yourself picking up trash; get your friends involved. Let them make a difference!

Key Club, Girl Scouts, and Interact Club have realized the power of numbers. Girl Scouts has created so many strong leaders, who attribute their success from volunteering at a young age. In a speech commemorating the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, Hilary Clinton recalls Girl Scouts as the place where she engaged with her “first lessons in leadership”. Clinton “credits this to service opportunities in “organizing food drives and helping out at nursing homes.”

Leadership

Anyone has the potential to be a leader, and leadership can come in different forms. Some leaders are boastful and have bad intentions for their goals, and this type of leaders may also put people down to get what they want. Good leaders are humble and want to help foster the potential of their followers. Great leaders put others first and do everything they can to make a difference, no matter the sacrifice.

Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and Harriet Tubman weren’t always leaders, but when they saw a need, they made a choice to step in, and do something. Leadership does take courage and commitment, but it is a skill that can constantly be improved, through practice and experience.

You don’t have to join a service club or volunteer every week. Just by hosting a bake sale for cancer with your friends you are making a difference. No good deed goes unnoticed. The report “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,” by CNCS, found that people who volunteered regularly  had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. And if for no other reason there is a lot of self-satisfaction in making the world a better place.

Everyone should go out in the world, be a leader, unite people, and create change.  Do not ignore the suffering that is going around you. Many of us have been blessed to have so many gifts and talents, it is only right for us to share them.

Author’s Note: I am a high school junior and I am a community leader. Last year I was awardered a $1,000 grant to implement a grant in my community. I created Scholar Society, a program that aims to foster academic potential, leadership, and community inolvnment in low income and first generation students. If you have any questions on how to start your own project feel free to email me at vascholarsociety@gmail.com

 

Valentine’s Day: Friends Forever

The typical way to celebrate ‘V-Day’ is getting together with that one boy and watching a classic “chick flick” like The Notebook or The Vow, and buying an expensive dinner for the two of you that you secretly know you don’t like. What about when you don’t have a special boy and just want to celebrate with your friends? Or when you just really don’t want to go through another typical date and eat food you don’t like?

“This year my best friend and I don’t have boyfriends or a special someone and we’re pretty bummed out because everywhere we go there are cute couples all over the place making us feel bad,” said Sammy, 15.

The wild pink and red environment of people running around buying presents was making them feel blue and they decided to get together and throw something completely different for the occasion making everyone’s day a better one.

“We decided we weren’t going to let it ruin our day so we decided we are going to have a party with single friends; kind of like an Anti-Valentine’s thing. I’m just trying to make it a good day for my friends, no more crying over dumb reasons,” said Sammy.

There is nothing like hanging out with your girls sharing laughs and having fun, even when you already have that special someone.

“I have a boyfriend and he wanted to do something special, but I told him no because I wanted to do something with my friends,” said Carla, 17.

“I wanted to have a movie night, perhaps a sleepover, eat a lot of junk food, maybe do some pranks, and just have fun because I love my friends and I know that hanging out with my boyfriend isn’t going to be as fun as being with my girls,” she adds.

For Danielle, 20, she celebrates Valentines Day differently.

“I go to school in Lubbock, my boyfriend goes to school in Austin and other friends or family members are back home in El Paso, I have no one to celebrate Valentine’s day with,” said Danielle.

She adds she has made friends since moving out, but prefers to staining in with her roommate.

“I just don’t feel like going out, I’m just going to stay in with my roommate buy some food and off course, lots and lots of chocolate! This day makes me feel so sad and makes me miss everyone back home, but I don’t mind spending it with my roommate because we’re both girls, we can have fun and share stories together,” said Danielle.

Even though she is miles away from her loved ones she found a way to spend this red day with someone that will give her some company and share this day with even if it isn’t her special someone.

Whether you are celebrating with your significant other or friends, did you know that an average of 15% of the U.S women buy themselves flowers? A little self-love in the form of flowers is nothing to be ashamed about. We deserve something special now and then, and when we have no one to buy us any why not buy them ourselves?

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

BFF: Dominique & Bethany

Spending Valentine’s Day can be a nightmare for some people, but even though they know they don’t have a special someone to share it with there is always going to be your friends you can count on to cheer you up and be with you through the tough times. Go out with your friends, plan a movie night, eat junk food, stay in and share stories, have a party! Good friends will always be there, and if they spend this day with you, you know they’re keepers, you’ll be friends forever.

Parents in the Military

Photo credit: theeap.com

Photo credit: theeap.com

More and more children are missing out on the get togethers with loved ones due to the increasing amount of individuals leaving to the military.

Angie Vasquez, 5, sits alone during the lunch hour due to her definition of feeling “left out.”

She says, “I feel like so many other girls have so much. They have their toys, but most of all they have their dads and moms with them. I have my pictures of them, but I don’t think they can feel me wrap my arms around them when I go to bed.”

According to a survey done by Blue Star Families, 67% of parents leaving oversees and leaving their children behind sought to search for mental health rehabilitation due to anxiety from being away from their children.

Vasquez says, “I like that my mom and dad are taking care of America, now America doesn’t have to worry about bombs or guns, but sometimes I want them [parents] to come home.”

Like her, there is a 68% increase of indepence in the child, but is it adaptability or a sense that they too have to become young adults earlier in life?

Tomasa Flores, Angie’s caretaker for the next year or so, says, “I have nothing bad to say about the military. My son Jose was in the Mexican army, but I do say that it is different for someone as young as Angie. She is a baby. I reminder her daily that I love her. If I don’t, who will?”

At this moment, Angie Vasquez interrupts and says, “My mom and dad love me! They call each night before I go to bed and wish the bugs don’t come in and bite. I love you too, Toma!”

Flores hugs her close and repeats the words to young Vasquez and says, “I do not think I could of gone to great lengths to try to save the US and my child’s future all by herself.”

Angie says, ” When my mom and dad come home I’ll be this much old,” while sticking her right hand flat and one finger up on the left hand.

Dosomething.org claims “more than 900,000 children experienced the deployment of one or both parents multiple times.”

Cards, letters and gift packages once dominated the mail waves soon after 9/11, but increased mail restrictions make it all the harder to do so. For a family member overseas, communication helps bring them closer. Talking to them everyday or as consistently as possible helps in coping with their deployment.

Vasquez is proof that staying optimistic is the only way she will stay confident. She said, “Even if I can’t send my mom or dad a real hug. I sent a photo of me, when both my top teeth were out. I asked Santa to give me my teeth for Christmas and I’ll be waiting.”

She smiles and it becomes evident that her upper teeth are coming in by a fraction of an inch.

If your loved one is oversees, send them a care package to bring a smile to their life the same way they make you smile when you have a chance to speak with them.

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