Tag Archives: Self-Discovery

My Solo Adventure

“Don’t be scared to walk alone.” — John Mayer

I have never been one to look into solo trips…honestly, I have never been a fan of activities that I couldn’t share with someone else; I thoroughly avoid them. Therefore, you can imagine my reaction when I had no other choice, but to embark in a solo adventure.

No, no it wasn’t one of dreadfulness or anguish; to my own surprise, I dove into the challenge of self-exploring pretty enthusiastically.

Here’s a little background: For the past few months, I have been trying to open myself up to new experiences, and working on redefining what it means to be alone; changing up my perspective to one of positivity, rather than one filled with negative thoughts. Believe me, not the easiest of tasks for a pessimist. Therefore, when I was faced with a situation, that could have taken a negative turn, I made the decision to make it something worth remembering.

Thus, here’s my story, in hopes that it will inspire my fellow pessimistic solo adventurer haters.

I am in Atlanta, Georgia with no set plan; all of my friends are hard at work (it’s a Monday.) I hate not having a plan, but I try not to focus on that. Instead, I focus on what I immediately want, and of course it’s food. Priorities people! Thanks to technology, I quickly Yelp myself a location, the Louisiana Bistreaux. I walk in, head-up, and ask for my solo table. Funny enough, the hostess seemed somewhat surprised, but quickly hid her reaction and walked me to my high-rise (before complimenting my hair…it was a great curl day!,) by the window (definitely a plus!) My waitress was the bartender, and she was awesome. She suggested that I ordered the Jumbo Grilled Shrimp, which was exactly what I needed in my life. I took my alone time and used it to contact my friends back home, who have already traveled to Atlanta, and asked them for suggestions on where to go. After some serious deliberation, it was decided that the The World of Coca Cola was where I should be heading. Nothing like a great meal before embarking on a new journey.

Lesson learned: Never be afraid to eat alone. Treat yourself to the best dish because you are just that awesome!

I order my Lyft, and I think God was pleased with my self-discovering adventure because he blessed me with the best Lyft driver! My driver took me on a mini tour of Atlanta, which included: A view of some of Atlanta’s oldest streets, The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, The Jackson Street Bridge (skyline view please,) The Varsity (should have grabbed a hot dog!,) The Philips Stadium (Go Hawks!,) The CNN Studio, The Centennial Olympian Park, The Civil Rights Museum, and dropped me off right in front of the The World of Coca Cola! Honestly, I couldn’t have been more grateful for his generosity. The man was even nice enough to take pictures of me in front of some of the sites. My day was really looking up!

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Lesson learned: Never underestimate what good surprises life might have in store for you… just make sure that you put yourself out there!

The The World of Coca Cola was super cute. I’ll tell you, I almost cried during the introduction video, it was just too adorable. Since I wasn’t in a rush and because I was alone, I took my time strolling around; taking in what the museum had to offer. I realized that being alone gives you the time to read all of the literature around the exhibits. Remember folks, reading is knowledge!

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Lesson learned: Museums are probably the best places to indulge in some alone time!

After, I leave the museum my friend is still unavailable, and I ask myself what now? I walked over to Centennial Park and sit on a bench where there is a great view of a ferris wheel. I use this time to just think. I think about how proud I feel for venturing out on my own, and enjoying myself. I think about a few of the things that have held me down the past few months (and even years,) but most importantly, I think about how whatever happens next in my life, I know that I will be okay.

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Lesson learned: Don’t let the past hold you down more than it has already done so!

I start walking with that thought on my mind. It’s 30 degrees, or maybe 40, all I know is that I am unbelievably cold and improperly dressed for the weather. I walk until I reach a point where it seems a bit unsafe, and there isn’t much around. I realize that I’m shaking from the cold, and figured that it was the right time to head back to the hotel.

Despite not being the type of day I expected, I have to admit that ultimately, I gained way more than I intended to do so. I allowed myself to be open to being with someone that truly makes me nervous…myself, and I am starting to see that it just may not be the worst thing in the world.

Lesson learned: Take some time to get to know yourself!

xoxo
– SimplyBe.

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Punta Cana

So far 2017 has been a weird year. I started off wanting to do it all; now I simply feel like slowing it down. I always knew I would have a quarter life crisis, just never thought it would feel this overwhelming. In May, when I went to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, I felt the need to take a few steps back, analyze and slow things down.


“Once she stopped
rushing through life,
she was amazed how much more
life she had time for.”
Unknown


For those who are not familiar with the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is a resort town located in the municipality of Higüey, in La Altagracia Province. 

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I was super excited because this would be my first time in Punta Cana. I took the trip with my best friend Shakia and my sorority sister Jadira. After the ultimate struggle to book everything, we managed to find a round trip flight with Dominican Wings and stay at Meliá Caribe Tropical all inclusive resort.

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I was nervous to fly Dominican Wings because they are a fairly new airline with only one airplane. In the end, it wasn’t so bad. Other than the excessive waiting to board the plane (on the way there) and the lack of good snacks (on both rides,) we managed to get to the Dominican Republic and back to the United States safe and sound (all for a good price!)

Meliá was perfect. What I loved about it most was how true they stayed to the Dominican culture. To be completely honest, throughout the entire 7 day vacation, I felt like a true Queen. My hair was flourishing, my skin was vibrant, my vibe was chill and the world seemed to make sense (at least for the week.)

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We did two excursions. The buggy ride with Adventure Boogies and a boat ride to Saona Island.

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The buggy ride was so much fun! We all took turns driving around the dusty back roads of Macao; experienced Macao Beach as well as a secluded ranch where there was a cave and free samples of delicious hot cocoa, coffee and Mama Juana (the famous aphrodisiac Dominican drink, which we drank all throughout the trip.)

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On our way to Saona, our questionable transportation ride stopped at a gas station, which had the cutest little cafe. There, I had the best Yuca Pastelito I have ever tasted! Eventually, we made it to the dock site where we got on a speed boat and headed towards some shallow waters. Once we arrived, Shakia and I managed to hop into the ice cold water and take a few pics with some Star fishes. Miraculously, right after that, what was supposed to be a gloomy rainy day turned into a day filled with bright sunshine. Right on time for Saona.

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Saona Island was extremely touristic. While we were there, I learned that the vendors are only allowed to make a living from the tourism. I ended up buying my aunt a bracelet made out of Larimar, a gemstone only found in the Dominican Republic. It makes you really think about the importance of tourism for some countries.

My favorite part was the Yacht ride back to Higüey. Despite the music and the people getting drunk on cheap rum and coke, I felt such a peacefulness. I loved every second of it. I even enjoyed a few dances with an Argentinian man who was sitting next to me. I have come to realize that it’s the simple moments that I appreciate the mostLife is merely but an arrangement of moments, both good and bad.

While at Meliá, if I wasn’t drinking a Coco Loco, I was sipping on a Cosmo. If I wasn’t eating, then I was most likely laying on the beach or enjoying the pool. I mingled a lot with the staff and learned quite a few things about life in DR. It still makes me laugh when I think about how different you are considered if you are Dominican-American, like myself. Though the same yet different, but then again we all are different.

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Overall, it was a good vacation. It made me really put 2017 into perspective and brought into light the need to go slower. There’s still a lot I have to figure out, but you have to start somewhere, right?

xoxo
-Tiffany

Love Illuminated

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I haven’t been the most fortunate in the game of love. So of course, when I came across Love Illuminated by Daniel Jones, the editor of the New York Times Modern Love column, I picked it up and decide to indulge in it.

I picked up the book hoping for some clarity, heck some divine intervention as to why I have been so unfortunate in this love mess. To my luck, in just the first few pages, he says that’s exactly what we should not expect in reading the book. Great, I still read it though.

The book is actually entertaining as Jones uses examples of a multitude of situations to discus pursuit, destiny, vulnerability, connection, trust, practicality, monotony, infidelity, loyalty and wisdom. After reading the book, I came to the conclusion that love is…well impossible to understand. It’s messy, annoying, consuming, tiresome,  a high, weird…to be honest I can go on for days. There are just so many different types of loves and ways of loving, no wonder some of us find ourselves lost and confused. We are weird creatures, sometimes even finding ourselves not really satisfied when we have something we’ve dreamed on for so long. Jones reminded me of all of this. He made me remember that I don’t have it as bad as I think I do.


“Let’s try to embrace love’s complexities as much as we try to explain them away” – Daniel Jones


I’m only 25 but it feels like I’ve been searching for love for years. In love with the idea of love; (ironic I know) I never find it in the right places. There are days I just get tired and want to give up. I’ll admit, I find myself crying some nights at how lonely I feel. That’s my problem though, I’m focusing too much on what I don’t have welcoming in people I don’t need. A lot of you could probably relate. feels like humans are addicted to love.

So in the end, I think you can say I learned a little something from this book. Embrace the complexities of love and take the experiences for what they are worth. Don’t fall in the search but fall in the moment. Most importantly, love yourself the deepest above all other loves.

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Philly, Hey!

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies. One minute I’m traveling; the next I’m back in school preparing assignments and presentations. Sometimes, I truly wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.

Last month, right before I started my my second semester as a Graduate Student, I decided to do a small weekend getaway trip, with some of my girls, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I booked us a really nice hotel room in Center City at Loews Philadelphia Hotel. We had such a breathtaking view of the city. It was one of those views that reminded you of the beauty of architecture and sunlight brightening up the sky, and the serenity created by skyscraper lights. Can you tell I love cities? Because I do. I’ll admit Philadelphia is far from my favorite city but on that weekend, it definitely grew on me.

We decided to walk to our first destination. It was supposed to snow in a few hours and we wanted to enjoy walking, while we could. It wasn’t too cold so it was perfect. In the middle of Midtown Village we came across Finn McCools Ale House.  Here I discovered and had my first White Russian. I don’t know much about cocktails, and at 25 maybe I should know a little more than I do,  but wow was it strong. Luckily, I shared the drink with my friend. We left Finn’s very happy and probably a tad buzzed.

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As we walked towards the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens we came across beautiful murals and graffiti art. Had to stop and take pictures.

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The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is a beautiful project that started in the late 1960s by Isaiah Zagar. It’s a remarkably stunning work of art that opened up to the public in 2008. At first sight, you can’t help but to look in awe at how detailed everything is. Every corner, every inch, is truly magical. We literally stayed there for about two hours just mesmerized by everything. We took so many pictures wanting to capture every moment we created there.

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It started getting colder and that was pretty much our cue to walk back towards are next destination. On the way, we stopped by Strangelove’s Bar. I’m 100% a beer girl so I was more than enthusiastic to try something new. We ended up spending about 1.5 hours just talking and enjoying our beer selection. It was a nice spot and we clearly got sucked into the vibe.

Before heading to Philly, almost everyone I talked to told me to check out the Reading Terminal Market and that’s what we did next. At this point we were starving and all we wanted was food. The place was crowded and the options to eat felt endless. We ended up separating, half of us got Philly Cheesesteaks  while the rest of us got some Soul Food at Keven Parker’s Soul Food Cafe. I devoured my food. It was absolutely mouth watering delicious. There’s no other way of putting it. We couldn’t leave the Market without getting some famous Beiler’s Donuts. The line was insane but totally worth it.

It was early, around 7PM, but it was raining, and phones were dying, so we decided to head back to the hotel to charge for a bit. The plan was to head back out for a few more bar hops, before preparing for our evening festivities, but the bed felt too good for a few of us. The rest of the group headed down to the hotel bar. Never underestimate the hotel bar! You might just end up having a pleasant time with some fancy delicious cocktail, that you keep calling by the wrong name…yep, totally me.

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Eventually, we got dressed for the night. It was an interesting one to say the least. If I had to summarize the night in one word it would be random. We spent most of our night at Time Restaurant. It was a great place divided into three sections: one for dancing, one for live music and one for simply sitting and drinking. After that we somehow ended up at Wawa. That had to be the most crowded Wawa I’ve ever seen.

The next day, before heading back to my house we had Brunch at the famous, and highly loved, Green Eggs Cafe. Beforehand, we had mimosas at Caribou Café, a Parisian bistro, to kill the 1 hr and 45min wait we had at Green Eggs. It was such a cute little French place it took everything in me to not order food.

To end our Philly adventure we took a picture with the Love sign like any other tourist. It was absolutely freezing at this point and we couldn’t wait to get back to the car.

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Philly, was a good adventure. The trip definitely warmed me up to its possibilities. Philadelphia might not have the best public transportation system, but it’s not lacking great bars and places to eat. So if you want a nice weekend getaway why not give Philly a try? I did.

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Last Day In CA

“Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” – Vincent Van Gough

It was officially Monday; our last day in Los Angeles, California. We had to wake up super early to move our cars, and it was brutal. We were so tired from our hike the day before. On our search for a parking garage, by accident, we ended up driving by the famous Skid Row. It was by far the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. All the poverty broke my heart. I was truly baffled and speechless. It was one of those experiences that made you grateful for what you have. A reminder to always give thanks for your blessings. At that moment I missed home.

We couldn’t find the right parking garage and it was already 9:00 am. We decided to just have breakfast. Of course, we couldn’t find non-meter parking (meter prices were ridiculous,) so we decided to get our food from Poppy + Rose to go. We really wish we could have ate there because it was a quaint spot; perfect for a relaxed morning with friends.

We ate our breakfast in the car and then head towards FIGat7th. I guess this is LA’s way of modernizing its downtown. Think of it as a mall. We didn’t stay long just stopped by Target, which by the way had a whole liquor area. I was pretty taken aback by that. I haven’t seen a Target with liquor in NJ.

At this point, we were wide awake and just ended up parking the car at a parking place right around the corner of the apartment. It was time to get ourselves ready for Beverly Hills.

Before heading out, we decided to find one of the Los Angeles Angel Wings, which is a part of the Global Angel Wings Project.

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We looked like total tourists and enjoyed every second of it.

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When we arrived at Beverly Hills we were in shock…talk about a total 180 from downtown LA. We parked and thought, “we’ll only stay for two hours max. What can we possibly do for a whole day here.” Yea, we spent our entire day in Beverly Hills without a single care in the world.

It was a perfect day in Beverly Hills. The weather was fantastic and the atmosphere was peaceful. First, we came across this small chocolate shop, Diane Krön Chocolatier. Damaris wanted to get some chocolate for her family. We started talking to the owner and to our surprise she was Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal chocolate connoisseur. She was an absolutely lovely woman with so much kindness. She allowed us to taste some of her delicious chocolates and nicely packaged the chocolates Damaris purchased. It was the perfect welcome to Beverly Hills.

Once we hit the main strip, we came across all the high-class expensive name brand stores that I would never shop at on a daily basis. Dior, Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Vera Wang (wedding dress goals,) Tiffany & Co. It was all there!

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We walked in awe. Everything was beautiful and expensive. Surprisingly, we didn’t feel poor, even though we totally were compared to the riches we were surrounded by, which is probably why we didn’t go into any of the stores.

We had lunch at 90210 Pho – A Modern Vietnamese Kitchen. The food was good and prices were affordable. We had the funniest waiter who loved that we were from the East Coast. We considered doing a tour of the mansions but ended up not doing so. We walked around some more and then came across Amorino Gelato Al Naturale. Talk about tasting the softest and most delicious gelato ever!

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Before heading back to downtown LA, we drove past some of the Beverly Hill mansions and swore one day we would own one. They were spectacular! With dreams in the air, we parted ways with Beverly Hills and drove right back into reality.

We ended the night at the Ace Hotel Upstairs. It was interesting, to say the least. We didn’t stay long, even though we tried. I think it was 70’s night; not really our crowd. Just like that ended our final day in Los Angeles, California.

California was definitely a 2016 highlight. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the West Coast. I’m glad I was able to share that with some of my closest friends. We definitely learned a lot from our trip and were able to experience things we didn’t think we would anytime soon. It just goes to show that all you really need to make a dream come true is a little push to make it happen. So thank you Steph and Damaris because only by pushing each other did we make this a reality.

Letter to my undergraduate self

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – e.e. Cummings

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Dear Tiffany,

I know you’re stressing. You will stress everyday for one reason or the other so do yourself a favor and stop. You’re actually stressing right now as you start taking on your first semester as a graduate student. Just take the time to enjoy the small moments like the way the campus looks filled with autumn leaves on the ground. Don’t overthink every single assignment you receive in class. Go with your gut because after two hours of over-analyzing, that’s essentially what you will end up doing.

I applaud you for your organization and time management skills because those will help you get through the crazy moments when you are drowning in school, work, internships and extra curricular activities. Don’t worry you will somehow manage to have a life because you live by your planner (and you still do at 25.) Talking about your internships, take more advantage of the networking opportunities presented to you. Build relationships and strengthen them because they will come in handy after you graduate and start job hunting. It’s not easy out there and bills start piling up. Don’t be afraid of part-time jobs even if it’s not exactly what you want at the moment. 

You won’t go to the gym but you really should. You seriously lucked out in not gaining the Freshman 15. I mean, you did gain the Freshman 5 though (no, that’s not a thing.) Go on adventures with your friends because you only get to experience college young and free once; life after gets more complex than you think.

Please please please don’t focus on love. College is not the place for it. It may seem like your life falls apart junior year but you’ll survive. Trust me when I say that in the end you become stronger from the disappointments. Don’t stop smiling because it’s your way of pushing forward during those tough times. Overall, you honestly don’t do that bad in college. You slack a bit first semester of freshman year but then you get it together after seeing your GPA. High five for staying focused on school and making it your mission to graduate with nothing less than a 3.0. You definitely learned that it’s easier to drop your GPA than bring it back up!

Enjoy your family. You never know what the future may hold…

However, my most important advice to you would be to never stop loving yourself. You lose track of that for a bit. Remember that this is your life and you matter the most in it. I love you girl and never stop reaching for those stars!

Love, yourself-

Exploring My Backyard

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Mark Twain

With graduate school and work being my top priorities, it feels like I don’t have time for much. However, I realized that for not having time like I used to, I have been doing quite a lot. Yes, clearly except for keeping up with this blog, which I truly apologize for.

So you may be asking yourself, what exactly have I been up to with my limited time? Well school work, of course! But also exploring my backyard. No, not my actual backyard, there’s not much there but a great space for contemplating life. What I mean is that I have been exploring New Jersey and my surroundings. I love to travel, but when you have so much going on, seeing what new adventures you may find close to home doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

I realized that for not being much of a big deal, New Jersey can be quite surprising, and with neighbors like New York and Pennsylvania can one really complain? Alright, yes, but you get my drift.

My backyard exploring began with wine tasting at the Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville, NJ.

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There are so many wineries in NJ and PA that I have no idea why I haven’t become a winery expert by now. It’s honestly the perfect thing to do on a cool Sunday afternoon with a few friends.

Where I found myself next? Well….Even though Atlantic City seems like it’s not part of NJ, well at least to me, it actually is. My best friend Shakia and I attended the 2016 Atlantic City Seafood Festival.

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As I walked in I asked myself if there was such a thing as too much seafood and beer?

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“Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost” – Erol Ozan

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I had what, at that time, tasted like the best Crab Mac and Cheese ever! My taste buds were so happy they urged me to take a cup with me home. Unfortunately, the next day it wasn’t as marvelous. It must of been the hunger and moment wrapped into one.

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We came across a friendly Chowder cook-off. All proceeds went to charity so it was only right to taste ALL of the Chowders. I never had so much Chowder (corn, clam, vegetarian) in my life! I think I had enough for the next year and a half.

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To finish off our adventure at the AC Seafood Festival we did a beer tasting of New Jersey beers! It couldn’t have been anymore perfect! Never underestimate the power of a good ‘ol festival. There are tons of festivals all year around. Look up some festivals in your backyard and give it a try, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Philadelphia Restaurant Week snuck up on me, but there was no way I was missing out. Shakia and I ended up going to Fratelli’s Italian Bistro where I had the Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms, Penne Alla Vodka, and Tiramisu for desert.

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I would give the restaurant/food a 3/4. Food and service could have been better but it was still good overall. I think I’m going to make it my personal mission to indulge in Restaurant Week every time. There are just so many restaurants! And I sure do love food!

Then I found myself creating art at ArteVino Studio in Hoboken, NJ for my friend Stephany’s birthday. This would make my fourth painting! Maybe I should open up my own studio at the rate that I’m going, but paint and wine events are so much fun. There’s a ton available all over, not only in NJ, NY or PA!

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I wasn’t really pleased with how my painting came out, but I had a great time with my friends and the experience was well worth it.

I like to think that I can do it all because time will never be just right. I don’t fear stress or being tired (my newfound life on a daily basis,) but I do fear not being able to explore and enjoy the small pleasures in life. Though I’m swamped with adulthood, I will never stop looking for my next adventure, even if it’s in my own backyard, and neither should you.