Winter, Exit Stage Left | Denim, Leather; Both

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Facebook memories are killer. I finally logged on today and I was only reminded how  much warmer it should be this time of the year. I was wearing light jackets and pants without another layer of leggings underneath and mules sans the thick socks. I don't know if Winter is lost but she can exit stage left and bring spring center forward.

This month has been full of decisions that can possibly alter the next few ahead. After teetering back and forth into the unknown, I finally realized that nothing in life can be romanticized like the weather. Yeah, it's spring but winter is very much still here too. You can't brave the snow in a bikini. You can but how irresponsible is that. I think this generation has this need to always prove something to the world. Don't get me wrong, I am all about chasing dreams and chasing goals but I wonder when we'll realize that chasing dreams don't equate to instant satisfaction and instant rewards?

It's hard work. And you should be willing to put in the work. You can't blink and snap a finger and have everything you want. Ideas need to come into fruition. I've romanticized the future so many times but reality always pulls me back. I always cared about what people thought but then I tried to pay my bills while still chasing my dreams with their opinions.

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Newsflash, it can't. Carry one and do what's for you because after all is said and done, it's your life, not theirs. Winter doesn't last forever. Nor does life's bad days. When Mother Nature decides to direct Winter in the right direction and exit, I'll wear more pastels and mules and spring dresses. Until then, denim with my leather and white sneakers will be my uniform. 

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W E A R I N G

Women's Heattech T-Shirt by Uniqlo
Leather Jacket by Beginning Boutique
1967 505™ Jeans by Levi's Vintage Clothing
Drummond Blanc Canvas by My Pop Shoes

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Breathe In, This Is Home

As the aerial view of Manila from my window seat dissipates into the clouds, I can't help but think about the many things about home that will keep me rooted to the very ground. Time is a gift but sixteen years is very long and time away from home forces you to forget the amazing realities about the Philippines. As I deplaned at the airport, both overwhelming anxiety and excitement hit me to the core.

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There are many that deem a simpler life is the life they would choose if they had a choice but in order to really make that choice, you have to live and immerse yourself in what simple life really is. The Philippines is considered a third world country and it is evident as soon as you land. You will see well-designed mansions next to tinfoil houses. You will see men in fancy cars on a very congested highway and five to ten-year-old children knocking on the windows for loose change. You will see rice fields and healthy farmlands beyond your eyes can even see and you will see rivers made of landfill. You will experience black outs that can happen five hours apart and people are just outside laughing and hanging out. You will see children playing outside with a stone and a slipper and having the time of their life.

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As an outsider looking in, I can't help but feel disheartened by these observations, but soon I realized that this is all once the only reality I knew. And right now, this is the only reality they know. All of a sudden, it's like I'm nine again with crooked teeth wearing only house shorts and a T-shirt running to the nearest corner store just to get soda in a plastic bag and a snack of some kind. I was a happy kid playing with stones and slippers too. These observations may be disheartening but also humbling. Although people have very little there, they are still genuinely happy, generous, willing to give what they can and hospitable, willing to treat you as if they've known you for years. The smallest things in life money cannot buy are truly the biggest things.

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Having lived in a first world country such as America for so long, I learned that I take more for granted than I ever admit. I realized I've become this privileged person that a simple lack of wifi connection is frustrating. Life has its way of humbling you down to earth and this trip did just that for me. It took a few days to adapt to a daily routine in the Philippines but before I knew it, I was up before the crack of dawn, I was speaking fluent Tagalog, not thinking much about how I dressed and didn't even bother wearing a drop of make-up. Jason and I worked at family businesses and saw first- hand the hustle they do. It's inspiring and makes us want to work harder than before. We were surrounded by family and friends we are blessed to have on a daily basis. If this is the simple life I could have, I would trade everything in the world for it. Until then, I'll be a constant visitor.

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As the aerial view of Manila from my window seat dissipates into the clouds, I hope it doesn't take me another sixteen years to come back. The last days were bittersweet but I'll see you again soon, Philippines

Golden Birthday Girl

It's my golden birthday today!

Birthdays are always so special but this particular one is most special to me.

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To be honest, I never feel like doing anything for myself on this day or this month. I'm usually more excited about other people's birthdays. But this year, I decided to finally see family I haven't seen for years on the other side of the world and remind myself of the simple rooted values time and this fast-paced lifestyle forces you to slowly forget. I never realized how much I really do appreciate the simple things in life until I was only surrounded by it again. After sixteen years, I learned that we do always find our way back to our roots. I apologize for the month long radio silence in this space. This month was full of growth I didn't know I needed and time away in places where wifi connection is last on the priority list never felt so good. 

The beauty of this day is that it is always around Thanksgiving. Although I am grateful everyday for everything and everyone I have in my life, this time of the year always makes me feel overwhelmingly grateful beyond measure and my heart just feels fuller. 

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Wearing Raine in Silver by Sunday Somewhere,
 Cotton Hooded Sweatshirt by Erdem X Hm,
Black Denim by Willow and Clay,
and Finn Bootie by Chinese Laundry.

Photography by Alithea Castillo

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The Rarity of Looking Lady-Like

 
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Aside from figuring out the best skin care regimen that works best for me and learning that the recommended amount of water a day actually makes a difference, I admit that my favorite thing about the road leading to turning twenty-five is accepting that it's okay to not know exactly what you want and know exactly what you don't. It's okay to not have everything together nor be a well put-together lady. 

The closer I get to my 25th birthday, the more I embrace the rarity of looking lady-like. I am most likely to always rock winged-liner, wear lived-in denim and worn-out sneakers. I've resolved with myself that I am not going to be the twenty-five-year-old that my fifteen-year-old self imagined myself to be.

Of course, putting on a lipstick that actually changes the color of my lips and trading in my backpacks for a small clutch (that fits nothing but my phone and the lipstick) and matching heeled booties gives the illusion of a more polished woman in front of you, but I still don't own a hair brush. Beyonce has a bottle of hot sauce in her bag and I have a tub of Vaseline and L'Occitane hand cream in mine. While it's easier to take off chipped nail polish and have bare nails, I wait until the polish peel off completely from every day wear and tear. I've never owned a pair of shoes that looks as good and as new as when I got them. I take at least three days to finish my laundry. My bed is almost always undone because I'll sleep on it again anyway. 

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So, as I spend my birthday month next month traveling around the motherland, I've committed myself to packing only easy, comfortable 90s pieces including one flared-bottom jeans (without the boots with the fur) and some tiny sunglasses that barely cover my eyes and accentuate only the lower half of my face.

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Here's to turning 25 on the 25th next month! 

It's Golden, they said.

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Photography by Alithea Castillo

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Power Suits and Superpowers

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"If you can have one
superpower, what would it be?"

I have been particularly obsessed with Vogue's 73 Questions series on Youtube where they interview a celebrity in a walk-through quick fire question and answer format in their home or work place. Although most of the videos are obviously scripted, one recent video just stood out and flowed so naturally I could not help but enjoy it over and over.

I'm talking about the one with Tracee Ellis Ross.

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Around the time mark 7:16, she was asked "If you can have one superpower, what would it be?" Without much thought and hesitation she replied, "The power to impeach." [and there I was screaming in excitement because #YAS.]

Tracee Ellis Ross is her own style icon in 17 years. She believes her hair can do anything. Out of any living thing on this planet, she looks up most to trees because it holds so much history and wisdom and we can learn a thing or two from them. She believes a woman must have a black blazer or a tux jacket of some kind in her closet. She wants to be remembered for inspiring people to feel comfortable in their skin.

Tracee Ellis Ross is the epitome of class, confidence, joy and light and she empowered me in ways unimaginable. After watching her video, she inspired me to wear a power suit in the middle of the week and made me wonder what kind of superpower I would want to have if I could have one.

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I THINK IT
WOULD BE
THE POWER
OF ENDLESS SELF-CONFIDENCE OUTSIDE A
POWER SUIT.

Just like the power to impeach HAS to be a superpower, self-confidence has to be to. Since superpowers are constant, imagine a world where confidence is endless? We can  believe we can do anything and everything we put our mind and we actually do it.
Recently, I've been finding myself starting something and not finishing it – like a good book, an idea, editing a Youtube video. Anxiety and self-doubt fill my mind and continues to stand in the way of everything I want to pursue. I'm learning that no matter how passionate someone is toward something, feeling unstoppable and moving forward is a continuous battle.

But hey, we're human. We aren't designed to be on top of our game everyday. All we can do is power through what the weeks throw at us. Power suits are the kind of ensemble that give me confidence. It's like my own version of Tracee's advice on a black tux jacket. Feeling comfortable in my skin is still something I'm working on at age 24. But maybe in 17 years, I can say the opposite and have the power to inspire and make others feel empowered just like Tracee Ellis Ross makes me feel. 

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