Category Archives: The Personal

My kid is an independent driver…now what?

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My oldest son will finish his freshman year of college this year and it already feels like he’s been at it for years. There are certain things that I have learned to not stress about as much anymore – like will he figure out how to cook himself a healthy meal, without burning down the dorm? Will he be distracted by the fun college activities too much to focus on the serious stuff? Will he shower…I mean, for the benefit of his roomies, at least?

Yup, I don’t worry about those things anymore. He’s managing it all really beautifully, enough so that sometimes I forget he is still not fully matured.

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When you are a nature-lover, and of color, in America

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Recently, I decided to take my boys out for a day of hiking. There are some short hikes around the reservation near our home here in  New Jersey, but I wanted something a bit more challenging, so we headed an hour away to Pennsylvania to explore the trails along the Delaware Water Gap.

It was a gorgeous day, a nice break from the humidity and intense heat we have felt so regularly this summer. The kids and I were in high spirits and we were excited to explore nature. The radio kept playing all our favorite songs and we cracked jokes. There was no traffic and the drive was easy.

Then I spotted it. A pick-up truck had merged in front of me and across its back cabin window was a large sticker that took up almost the entire glass. It was the confederate flag. I felt my body get tense. I honestly don’t know if we had crossed the border into PA yet, it really didn’t matter. I was heading into rural America, alone, with my kids.

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My Kids’ First Trip to the Dominican Republic: Heritage, Race, and Breaking the Cycle

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We were on a bus on our way to do some volunteer work with other travelers from the Fathom cruise. Our project leader, a local employed by the organization heading the activity, was pointing out highlights of Sosua, the beach town we were entering and where we would do our work.

“And here is one of the first synagogues established in the Dominican Republic,” she exclaimed proudly. The group immediately looked out the window, surprised to learn that there was a Jewish community on the island, let alone a historic synagogue. “I didn’t realize there was a Jewish community here. When did they arrive?” asked a group member.

“Well, in the 1930s Rafael Trujillo who was a dictator here at the time, took in the Jewish refugees looking to escape the Nazis. He did this when no one else would and they came and settled here,” she replied.

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Taking on a new adventure!

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We were in the middle of an ocean cliffs ranger-led tour in Acadia national park, when my 9-year-old chimed in to add to the discussion that baleen whales, attracted to the shores of Bar Harbor each breeding season, can’t eat more than a balloon size amount of food which is why they mostly prefer to eat small fish, plankton, and krill. The ranger replied in delight that he would not only share this correct fact, but do so confidently. I was left in awe that he even knew that.

Later on, he would go on to also share that it was the Wabanake people, not the European settlers, who were the first to settle Mount Desert Island, where the park is located. He had only learned this the day before during a museum visit.

This wouldn’t be the first time I have seen my boys enthusiastically share information with tour guides and others whom we meet in our travels. Yet it was during our time in Italy, and again during our recent trip to Acadia, that I was left convinced that we were ready for homeschooling.

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2015 in Photos

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2015 was a happy year for me in many ways. Not without its challenges, not without its losses, I feel I came out of it a more grounded, more confident, person with a clearer vision for what I want for my future. I shared a lot of the exciting things that happened in my post, The Best Travel Stories, so here, I thought I would limit the words and share my journey through photography.

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Taking a moment, while being grateful

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This morning I woke up with every intention of publishing some work here that I’ve wanted to share for a bit on a few trips I’ve taken.

It’s been a bit since I’ve been able to do it for so many reasons, but mainly because in the travel break I have given myself this winter, I have also committed to being present for my family in more ways than I am able to when I am juggling travel, projects, and deadlines.

I have been on a vacation of sorts, enjoying the simple things that I am often either too busy or not here to enjoy. Sometimes that means not doing anything more than some light social media.

This morning I was going to get back into it but instead spent it waiting for my son as he tried to identify the criminals who assaulted him last week.

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The Travel Dream, 18 Years Later

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A little over 18 years ago I had saved up money working for a non-profit in New York City while also going to college for my Bachelors in Communications to travel the world once I had gotten my degree.

My degree, I had decided then, was a symbol of pride for my father who had always told me this is what he expected of me as the first in my family to finish college. I envisioned getting it and sending it to my family back home while packing to travel the world. My dream was to backpack through Europe and kiss many men as a statement of personal and sexual freedom.

I had no blogs to inspire me. I had no images or stories of fellow women, let alone fellow Latinas, to motivate me but I was eager and ready. 

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Speaking Out on What’s Happening In Dominican Republic

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I have often written, both here on this site and across social media, about my Dominican heritage and my pride for the same.

And today I want to write something a little different that I hope you will read as well.

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Family is everything

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This is the foundation upon which I raise my children. This is the mantra I repeat in my head. And this week, where one of the most important milestones of my family’s life took place, and where I haven’t, until now, been able to work or blog, barely tweet or Facebook, I have had to exhale in release of the stress from the pressure that I place on myself for being “quiet” and “absent” and remind myself, “family first”. It’s interesting how we often talk about the freedom that blogging and social media has provided so many of us. The freedom to create our own businesses and carve our own name and reputation in this space, and yet, I have found, so many of us trapped. Trapped in the expectations we feel others have of us, to the extent that this so-called freedom we claim to have becomes a lie.

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Lost and Found, Lost and Found Again

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Over the past few years since I started blogging, I have shared many stories of my mother Cynthia, my father’s second wife, the one who would love and raise me as her daughter, even though biologically I wasn’t, even though her marriage with my father ended terribly, and till the day she died.

I have talked about Cynthia and about how she taught me about strength, even when all the odds were stacked up against her, about the love for travel, and most importantly, about unconditional love, as it is what she always gave me.

I’ve talked about how much I’ve missed her, the many things I wish I could share with her, and the many ways I wish I could still tell her that I love her.

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