Monday, May 20, 2019

How I Cope With Mental Health

How I Cope With Mental Health

Last October I opened up about my mental health struggles. During that time I did not have an answer or an optimistic solution. I've always been the type of person who could quickly overcome any obstacle or dilemma, but I had reached a breaking point.

The severity of my depression and anxiety began around March 2018. I quickly dismissed the feelings because I had never been diagnosed with depression. I typically saw the "brighter side of things." But around March 2018, I started to feel helpless, as though I could not escape the darkness that was rapidly engulfing me.

I started to feel helpless, as 
though I could not escape the 
darkness that was rapidly engulfing me. 

The irony is a few months before I wrote about how more people need to be optimistic... and who would have thought that by the end of the year I lacked that trait entirely. I never realized how quickly depression and mental health could escalate until I experienced it myself.

It was a journey to regain my confidence and be happy with myself. When I started walking down the path towards finding my happiness, I soon realized I wouldn't get immediate results. After three months of diligently working on myself, I finally started to rediscover my own self worth.

After three months of diligently 
working on myself, I finally started 
to rediscover my own self worth.

I strongly advise seeing a doctor to get professional help if you struggle with your mental health. It is something no one should go through alone or feel they need to live with. Below are the five ways that enabled me to cope with my mental health and the clinical depression I was officially diagnosed with in January.

1. Pray
The first step I found necessary in resolving my clinical depression was to pray. I felt lost. I had no idea what to do or where to go after I quit my job. I prayed to God asking him to help guide me out of this depression and anxiety I was experiencing every single day. I wanted to reconnect with things that made me happy. The more I prayed, the more I found my thoughts focused on resolving my depression.

2. Get a Support Squad
I have a handful of women I confide in for both my successes and losses. It helps to share our goals, detours, visions and thoughts in our group chats (or in person whenever possible). We encourage each other to do our best and recognize when we need to rest. My husband, Alex, is my anchor and knows me the best. I should have listened to him when he recognized I was becoming increasingly unhappy with my life. Our loved ones are there to help us when we can't see our own error.

3. Purge Anything and Everything
This was the hardest part for me. To help recenter and find myself, I decided to purge almost everything that I was involved in from my life. I quit a job I had only been at for nine months, a job I was constantly working because I believed in the company and loved the ability to giveback to my own community on a daily basis. I had spent the last few years investing so much time into nonprofit organizations and boards, and I didn't want to leave what I had worked so hard to obtain. I felt like a failure. But if I hadn't made the difficult decision to purge everything, then I wouldn't have been able to focus on myself.
4. Do What You Love
Once I purged, I found myself testing out different things. I started small and began by organizing my apartment or going grocery shopping. It wasn't the most exciting tasks but it brought me happiness because I finally had time for those sorts of things where Alex wasn't the only one doing them. I made more time for my friends and family. I increased my commitment to Happily Pink and placed that as the highest priority. It ultimately came down to me asking the question, "Is this going to contribute to my happiness in the long-run?" Last year I rarely had time for myself or to do what I love, and I'm elated everything has turned around.

5. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
Self-love coincides with eating healthy and working out. Do I always eat healthy? Absolutely not! If you follow me on Instagram then you'll notice the desserts. Life to me is about eating healthy most of the time and then indulging in between. Last year I did not get to regularly work out and my sleep schedule was constantly off. This resulted in other health issues that contributed to me realized I need to change.

It is a huge relief to know I am much different than the woman I was a year ago. Remember change is possible but takes time. The longer something has built up, the longer it could take to recover. I consider myself fortunate that most of the darkness is now out of my life.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

How to Empower Women

How to Empower Women

Women can accomplish incredible things when they support each other. We live in a world where you have the freedom to spread hate or love. Why wouldn’t you choose to encourage others rather than shut them down? Here are three ways you can empower women:

1. Celebrate Her Success!
How to Empower Women

Support a woman's goals, dreams, ambitions, anything! I'm always excited for the things my friends and families are accomplishing, but I'm also excited for strangers and influential women who are reaching new heights in their career and life. Whether it's a bright, up and coming woman or an established and well-recognized woman who is achieving something great, I find inspiration from her.

If she's a complete stranger, it can be something as simple as telling her you like her shoes, or how well-behaved her kids are. If you know her, acknowledge her success whether she received a new promotion, scored a pair of designer shoes for an awesome price, remodeled her bedroom, cooked something delicious, recently graduated from school, or anything else!

Bottom line:
If someone is happy, be happy for them.

2. Uplift, Don't Put Down.
How to Empower Women
I've been on the receiving end of both circumstances and I have to say that I much prefer to be uplifted than put down ha ha! I know I'm not the only one either! What do you gain from putting someone down? How did you succeed by making fun of someone passively or directly? You just negatively contributed to her depression, anxiety or anything else she may be dealing with. People have so much going on in their lives that they don't need these low-levels of pettiness.

If she's feeling discouraged, provide some ideas on how you can inspire her to get back onto her feet. Offer words of wisdom and advice, or just listen if all she needs is empathy. Remind her to not give up during the hardships she is facing.

 3. Create a Community and Build Ideas.
 How to Empower Women

Visibly seek out ways you can improve your community by connecting women with the right people. If you encounter someone who you feel would benefit from whatever services (social media, therapy, baking, home decor, skin care, etc.) it is she provides then share her business! I love being able to connect women with each other. Build ideas upon each other. I enjoy regularly meeting with students and help strategize their future plans. I want them to experience success and avoid facing the same failures I have encountered. I enjoy doing the same with my Instagram fam who will ask me questions about fitness, blogging, travel, food and fashion.

My closest friends and I are always strategizing ways to help each other be our best selves! If something didn't work out, we brainstorm the possible next steps to move forward. No matter what, we always believe in each other and make sure we achieve the dreams we set out to accomplish!

Just because Women's History Month ended in March doesn't mean we need to stop empowering women. Continuously seek out to enrich the lives of others and be a better person because there is nothing you have to lose from being kind.


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Juniper Green Wedding

Juniper Green Wedding

A week ago my youngest sister, Leah, said "I do" to her high school sweetheart of nine years! It was a beautiful, rustic wedding on a ranch. Leah's colors were yellow and green.

For the bridesmaid dresses, she allowed everyone to pick out their own style of dress as long as it was the Juniper style color from David's Bridal. I decided on a timeless, faux-wrap dress made of chiffon. The dress is one I look forward to wearing again. Some of my favorites details included the deep back and front slit.

The Dress
I was impressed by the quality, and the dress is on sale for $119! I did have the dress altered, but that's the story of my life with most things because I am 5'0". I took in the straps, adjusted the slit and cut the helm. The slit I needed to adjust because it was meant to rise above the knee, however it hit me at mid-shin. Overall, I still am happy with the purchase and cannot wait to wear it again for a gala or special event!

Juniper Green Wedding

The Accessories
Kendra Scott jewelry is typically my go-to. To create a spring look, I wore my pearl-stranded Misha earrings. Unfortunately it's not sold online anymore, but I did link other options. I would recommend styling this green with ivory mother-of-pearl if using the dress in the spring or summer, and then something with more sparkles for the fall and winter. I included a few examples in the LTK slider above. For bracelets, I wore my favorite Ott bracelet in gold. My sister was so sweet and gifted us each a rose quartz Elaina! I started off with my gold DVF stiletto pumps but switched to my brown Michael Kors chunky heels after the photos.

Juniper Green Wedding

My sisters and I had so much fun on this special celebration. Of my six siblings there have already been three weddings, and each one had their own style and flair!


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What I Learned from my First Year of Marriage

What I Learned from my First Year of Marriage
This year, Alex and I celebrated 12 years together and our first wedding anniversary! Marriage is a holy institution where a husband and wife are bonded through the word of God, and I was able to experience firsthand what this meant after I got married. 

There are two main things I learned and it only made me realize how lucky of a wife I am to be able to call Alex my husband!

1. Stop being stubborn and share the weight.
I discovered the importance of relying on Alex to share a burden with me so we can solve it as a unit. While Alex was the one person I could always depend on prior to marriage, there was something that shifted over the year after we exchanged our vows. I've always been pretty independent and haven't really been one to ask for help. I like to find the solution because this has worked for most things in my life.

Well, last year was a turbulent year for me, for reasons outside our relationship. Once I finally let Alex bear the weight and stress of the problems with me, the mental strain plaguing me was alleviated. Throughout all of last year, he kept saying "let me help you" and I continuously responded back with, "no, I will figure it out."

Towards October, my mental health toppled and could have been avoided had I stopped being stubborn. God intended for husband and wife to work as a team and lean on each other for support.

"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what 
God has joined together, let no one separate.”

-Matthew 19:6

2. We get to because we want to, not because we have to.
During college and most of my 20s, I was especially selfish. I will go into more detail about this in a separate post, but essentially I reached maturity in our relationship in my late 20s. Once I knew I was ready for marriage, I started finding myself making smaller decisions here and there with Alex. I was beyond ecstatic for us to make major decisions together and discuss what would be best for us instead of me

It stopped being "I have to do this" to "I want to do this." We could strategize anything in our life; ranging from careers to hobbies to decorating our home. It's setting aside time together every week and realizing the number one priority in our lives is each other.

What I Learned from my First Year of Marriage
Wedding Photographer: Tara Leinen
As the years go by, I am sure I will continue to discover more lessons. But in the meantime, I'm aiming for us to attend church at least once a week and start praying together.


The Ritz-Carlton Earns Forbes Five-Star Rating for Fifth Consecutive Year

The Ritz-Carlton Earns Forbes Five-Star Rating for Fifth Consecutive Year

The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain received recognition as a Five-Star luxury resort for the fifth consecutive year from Forbes Travel Guide. Under this recognition from Forbes Travel Guide, the property continues to be the only full-destination resort in the southwestern United States, and remains as one of the eight most luxurious hotel and spa properties in the world!

"I am deeply grateful to our resort’s stellar team of ladies and gentlemen, who continue to bring a new and increasingly memorable luxury travel experience to the desert Southwest,” said Liam Doyle, Area General Manager, Western Region, for Marriott Luxury Brands.

As you may recall from the beginning of the year, Alex and I our celebrated our first wedding anniversary and 12 years together with this Ritz-Carlton in Tucson. From the exquisite culinary experience to the scenic desert oasis, we witnessed on first-hand what validates this accolade. 

“With our property renovation unveiled just a few months ago, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain continues to seek ever new ways to delight and inspire our guests – who remain at the heart of everything we do,” said Doyle.

During select dates of March thru May, the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain is introducing a Spring Getaway rate at $299 per night. Alex and I plan to take advantage of these rates and experience the three swimming pools! I look forward to the visit as we always find such serenity in this Sonoran desert luxury destination.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Topgolf Brunch

Topgolf Brunch

Topgolf is stepping up it's culinary game: Brunch. With the breathtaking views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, you can enjoy a friendly competitive round of Topgolf while choosing your pick of savory, sweet or healthy brunch menu items.

As a "City of Gastronomy" recognized by UNESCO, it is no surprise Tucson was selected as one of 10 testing doors out of the 70+ Topgolf locations. For those of you who feel the best brunch places are always downtown, you may need to head over to the northwest side of town because Topgolf's brunch is worth experiencing.

Below are the brunch menu items Topgolf invited me to taste at their media event:


Hot Mess Waffle Fries
Topgolf Brunch

What impressed me the most about these fries were two things: they didn't get immediately soggy and the layering was well-distributed. When I asked the Topgolf team what prevented the waffle fries from instantly getting soggy, their response was the waffle fries served as a better foundation as opposed to regular fries because of the holes. These are definitely a cheat-meal worthy brunch item to share! Smoked pork is tossed in a spicy BBQ sauce, which consists of the housemade buffalo and BBQ sauce, then layered with the housemade craft beer queso and a sprinkle of three cheese blend. A sunny side egg is the perfect creation for an even tastier mess.

Kalbi Beef Bowl
Topgolf Brunch

The Korean beef short-rib is marinated with sesame oil, red and green onion, and soy sauce. To ensure absolute flavor, the meat is grilled to order then placed on kimchi fried rice. Julienned carrots and diced pickles are the other flavors to accompany the dish, along with a sunny-side egg. As a Korean-food lover, I would recommend asking for a drizzle of the gochujang sauce because this particular kimchi fried rice does not include that as a main ingredient. If you don't like spice, then keep the dish as it is because the flavor is still enjoyable either way. While this dish could be shared family style, I find it delicious enough to eat by myself!

Carnitas Benedict
Topgolf Brunch

Long ago I used to be a fan of traditional benedicts but now seek out something more, and the Carnitas Benedict is the perfect alternative! A buttermilk biscuit is halved then topped with smoked pork tossed in a tomatillo salsa. TopGolf recommends an over-medium egg, which is then covered with tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo and Cotijia cheese.


Everything Bagel Pizza
Topgolf Brunch

I have a difficulty between choosing what was my favorite between the Everything Bagel Pizza and the Ahi Tuna Toast. If in the mood for something heavier, I would without a doubt go for the Everything Bagel Pizza to share with friends as one of our brunch items! The pizza dough is brushed with egg wash to give it that nice, golden color, then topped with Everything seasoning. Herb Boursin cream cheese is generously spread over the bagel, followed by the placement of the lox, fried capers, slice radishes, fresh dill and cherry tomatoes. The radishes are a unique substitute for the red onion ingredient most lox menu items have.

Ahi Tuna Toast
Topgolf Brunch

I would recommend the Ahi Tuna Toast for those who are looking for a healthier and lighter brunch item. Poke fans will love this toast as well because it's essentially just that on toast! Thinly sliced, seven-grain bread is lightly toasted before it is spread with a gochujang aioli that consists of a nice level of spice and savoriness that creates an umani of flavors in one's mouth. Tuna marinated with Shiro Miso, a light and sweet miso flavor, is mixed with dice avocados and juicy navel oranges. Quinoa is cooked then deep fried and used sparingly over the toast as a light crunch.


Farmer's Benedict
Topgolf Brunch

With more restaurants recognizing the importance of offering creative vegetarian menu items, you won't be disappointed with the Farmer's Benedict. A fried zucchini cake is used as the base, then is topped with a seared beefsteak tomato, followed by a poached egg. A savory tomato basil sauce, or farmers sauce, smothers the stack. The sauce is simmered with a mouth-watering herbed cheese to create a rich and creamy consistency. Cotijia cheese is loosely sprinkled as the final touch.


Smoothie Bowls
Topgolf Brunch

For those who always wish for a fruity and healthy breakfast item then look no further. TopGolf will serve up two different smoothie bowls which are both topped with: granola, kiwi, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, banana, slivered almonds and chia seeds. I didn't get a taste of the Green Bowl, but the Açai bowl I would recommend splitting up with friends as a supplement to savory brunch items. The Açai Bowl includes a blend of strawberries, mango, açai, agave and almond milk.
The Green Bowl is blended with avocado, spinach, kale, mango and almond milk.


Carrot Cake Waffles
Topgolf Brunch

Carrot cake waffles are drizzled with cream cheese icing and traditional caramel. I was initially concerned the brunch item may be too sweet but the waffle base isn't as decadent as I anticipated! The dish includes a dusting of powdered sugar and quartered strawberries.

Topgolf Brunch

Topgolf's donut assortment includes: fruity crisp, cookies and cream and s'mores. The fruity crisp is a yeast-raised donut with a vanilla glaze and crunchy, fruity crisp cereal. Cookies and cream include a chocolate cake donut with vanilla icing topped with chocolate cookies. The s'mores donut is a white cake donut with chocolate ganache, graham crackers and brûléed marshmallows. Long-term, TopGolf may rotate the donuts seasonally.


Candy Bacon
Topgolf Brunch

This is a must; order the candy bacon and you won't regret it! The candy bacon uses a thicker cut bacon than the bacon that accompanies burgers. Brown sugar and granulated sugar are mixed with crushed red pepper for a subtle spice. The result: caramelized bacon!

Topgolf Brunch

After seeing the photos of the new menu, my husband told me that we should switch our evenings for mornings at Topgolf. I can't say I disagree!


Friday, March 1, 2019

A Syrian Sentiment

A Syrian Sentiment

New York Fashion Week is the opportunity to showcase creativity and eclectic styles. For my every-day-look, I tend to gravitate towards feminine whimsical or classic pieces. However for NYFW, I wanted to do something different for Rebecca Minkoff's show. I integrated a piece of my family into the look I created: a velvet bolero with intricate embroidery.

My mother passed the bolero down to me from my great-grandfather, who migrated to the United States from Syria. In California, he met his American wife and worked as a merchant. At some point over the years, my grandfather and great-grandfather had a disagreement and never really spoke again. As a result, my grandfather decided to go by his middle name, Spencer, as opposed to his Syrian first name and the name of my great-grandfather, Najeeb.

While I may never learn about that piece of my family, I did feel a sense of pride and confidence when I wore the historical garment knowing it was a part of my great-grandfather's Syrian culture. To me, it's important to maintain family history and values. Our family history is what contributes to the type of person we are today. Debuting this bolero to my first NYFW attendance made the experience all the more special.