Between darkness and light

(Miraflores – Lima, Peru. Circa 2014).

“We go through life walking in the immense darkness of unknown realities with a little flashlight in our hands, imagining that only what our little light makes visible is real. We generally see and experience only an infinitesimally small sliver of what actually exists and remain strictly within the confines of what our tiny light illumines. The true power of life does not lie within the confines of our tiny light, but in the immense darkness of unknown realities that are the greater story of our lives. 

Our lives are much more immense than we know, and connected to vast currents of hidden influences and possibilities. But we must stretch out into the darkness with the full measure of our longing, and surrender to the greater unknown context of our lives in order to begin to embrace and be embraced by a Love that is awaiting our invitation. And it is not only an invitation in word but also in deed—the act of offering our Being and the fullness of our lives to the darkness of the unknown currents—eternal possibilities that we cannot control but must instead invite with heartfelt surrender.” 

— Adyashanti


I read this quote a few days ago and I just felt the message it conveys is too important not to share. Once we unveil our perspective on life and realize there are so many greater things beyond what we know — it helps us realize that our problems aren’t as devastating as we thought, while also providing a sense of hopefulness we all need during times like these ❤

5 ways to cope with stress in times of Covid

Image: Unsplash

Hi there! I feel it’s been forever since I’ve posted a non-book related post. These uncertain times have caused me some episodes of stress and anxiety, and I’m sure I haven’t been the only one. I’ve been meaning to write about it and share my experience and tips that I’ve found helpful, but I’ve ended up postponing it. My main source of doubt has been: Do people read blogs anymore? I feel like these past two years, Instagram has transformed into a micro-blogging platform, where “bloggers” have replaced their blogs with 2,200 characters in Instagram captions. Let me know if I’m wrong, perhaps I’ll start posting here more often.

Anyway, these are the main 5 things that I’ve found useful while coping with stress during self-isolation:

1.Yoga

I’ve been practicing yoga for eight years already (time flies!) but I’ve always lacked consistency. It wasn’t until lockdown when I found myself with so much spare time, it was a bit scary. Until I remembered how much I’d been complaining in the past about how my lack of free time prevented me from practicing yoga more often. I began with easy vinyasa flows and have moved my way up to more advanced sequences. If I’m honest, at first it wasn’t easy. Some days I felt lazy and had zero motivation. I had to remind myself how good I would feel afterwards, so I literally had forced myself to take my mat out more than once. Even if you start with short 15-minute sessions every couple of days, remember: you’re showing up for yourself. That’s what matters most.

2. Meditation

Along side with yoga — but not exclusively– I’ve found comfort in meditating. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an over saturation of news (mostly all negative) and it was too overwhelming. The only way out of it was disconnecting to connect. And yes, I mean forgetting about my smartphone, laptop and social media for a while. The easiest way to start meditating is by taking baby steps: just set aside one minute of your time, at least once a day. And breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Focus on the ground beneath you, feel the pull of gravity, listen to surrounding noises. Listen and let go. Breathe. And if thoughts come along your way (they always do), observe them — and let them go too. If it’s something out of your control, it’s not worth your energy. Just be present.

3. Trying out new hobbies

Having spare time means you can learn new things! The internet is an infinite source for new knowledge. These past few months I’ve cooked recipes that had been saved in my Pinterest board since forever. I also learned how to make my own soy-wax candles. And it’s not always about learning something new. Do you have a forgotten hobby? Well give it another try! I’ve started drawing and painting again, and I still cannot understand why I even stopped in the first place. Sure, binge watching Netflix or playing video games could be considered as hobbies too, do whatever suits you best. But I do suggest to limit the use of electronic devices, whether we want to admit it or not, they prevent us from being more mindful and present.

4. Journaling

Write your heart out. That’s all I can say. During these uncertain times, sure it’s been helpful to have Zoom meetings with friends and family, but everyone is going through their own struggles. Ok, perhaps I do this because I’m a Type 5w4, but I personally don’t like to worry others with my own incessant ramblings. So my journals have sort of become like my BFFs. Write whatever you feel, whatever comes to your mind. And once your get all those negative emotions off your chest, don’t forget to also write down what you’re grateful for. It’s the small details that count.

5. Reading

Last but not least (as you could’ve guessed), books have helped me so much. Last year I went through a big reading slump that lasted many months (I only read 8 books which is very little for me). This year, I thought it was going to be the same due to the circumstances. But the more time I passed in self-isolation, the more I realized I needed an escape. And what a better escape than books. I love reading fiction because you can go anywhere — whether it’d be a magical world with strange creatures or simply relive Jane Austen’s love stories, I assure you it will make you forget everything else.

I know some have viewed quarantine as a time of competition, many people have used this time to learn new skills and languages, but if you feel pressured, then don’t do it. Never do something just because everyone else is doing it. Engage in activities that make you feel relaxed, and if you’re going to pick up a new hobby, remember that it’s meant to be fun.

And just to keep in mind, this post is a compilation of some ideas that have worked for me during times of stress. But if you’re experiencing severe anxiety, please reach out to a friend or professional. There will always be someone willing to help ❤

That’s all for today! And how about you, how have you been dealing with stress? Let me know in the comments!

2019 in one post

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Hello there! I cannot believe that it’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted something on this blog. I guess I stopped posting here because it was easier to write shorter reviews and simply share then on Instagram. However, since a couple of months ago, I’ve been yearning to write again. Whether it’d be about books or random topics in general. Which got me thinking, why not start blogging again? Sure, times have changed (not being dramatic at all, lol). Social media has become the number one platform for content creation. But then again, there must still be people who read blogs right? Perhaps not the vast majority, but I can’t be the only one looking for genuine content outside of Instagram.

Which is why, regardless of all KPIs, I’ll be posting more often this upcoming year. There’ll be content I’ll want to share and write about in detail — and that’s what blogs are for.

Anyway, let’s return to the main topic of this blog: books. I think this year has been one of the years where I’ve bought more books but read less (way less than expected). Instead of being too hard on myself, I have to acknowledge the fact that there’s been a lot going on in my life lately (especially these last few months). And in several occasions, when I’ve had the time to read, I’ve preferred to practice yoga, go out for jogs or simply watch Netflix. I’ve had to give my mind some rest, and unfortunately, that meant reading less this year. However, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading the books I did.

Here’s what I read in 2019:

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • The Woman In the Window by A. J. Finn
  • Nocturnal by wilder
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  • Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Frankestein by Mary Shelley
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen
  • Emma by Jane Austen (not sure if I should include it in this list, I’m halfway through.

Last year, I read 17 books. That’s the most I’ve ever read. But once again, this isn’t a competition. Reading is something that should be enjoyed, simple as that.

‘Til next time!

2018 Recap

Who else gets inspired to write when there is barely enough time? I noticed I hadn’t blogged in a while but hadn’t checked the exact date of my last post. October 4. It’s been over two months since I’ve last written here, yet it feels like an eternity for me.

So why haven’t I updated the blog recently? Well, I’ll be honest. After finishing The Glass Castle, I read Alice In Wonderland. It’s a timeless classic, one that I wish I’d fully read sooner (but better late than never, right?). I had nothing to review after it — I mean, it is Lewis Carroll after all, I simply loved it. Afterward, I *tried* to read The Bell Jar. But two things happened. One, I didn’t have much time to read, considering that during these past few months I’d use my free time to study for a course I’m taking. Secondly, while Sylvia Plath has some touching and intriguing poems, her narrative in The Bell Jar didn’t quite catch my attention. I understand that some books are slow at first, but at some point before the middle, they make you dive right in and continue reading non-stop. I was waiting for that moment to happen, but it never did. So I gave up and placed it again in my To Be Read pile.

I’m guessing it’s because of work and the course I’m taking, I’ve been so stressed out that I needed a light and distracting read. However, The Bell Jar was anything but that. I felt like I was being dragged into the same state of loneliness as Esther, it didn’t make me feel well. So I’ll just wait until I’m in a different (emotional) place so I can read it again.

Anyway, here is a summary of all the books I read this year:

  1. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  4. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gardner
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  6. All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  7. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  8. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  10. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
  11. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
  12. Into The Water by Paula Hawkins
  13. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  14. Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
  15. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  16. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  17. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Never in my life had I read so much in just one year. Yes, I’m a newbie bookworm. As for 2019, I have planned reading Michelle Obama’s memoir, more Agatha Christie novels and perhaps reread some of my favorites.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday, filled with books, hot chocolate, and blankets.

My favorite reads of this year

Why I stopped using a bullet journal

For 2018, I decided to go back to a regular agenda, the one you can buy at any store with standard one page per day. Last year, I even did a post on setting up a bullet journal. Truth be told, I only used it until April or May approximately. In general, I’m not much of an agenda person. Before when I was still in college, my life did depend on a planner, I used to write down due dates and assignments. But I’ve been done with college for over a year and in my job I generally put my to-do list on a bulletin board. So as you may notice, I’m not really in the need of a planner. However, I decided to purchase one this year just to help me keep track of medical stuff and personal to-do list.

Here are the main reasons why I decided to give up on bullet journaling:

  • Time consuming: A bullet journal is something you create from scratch. From the index to the monthly and daily logs. It requieres for you to draw it all. Don’t get me wrong, I like drawing. But since I’m also a bit of a neat freak, I like to do things with precision. And that takes time, you need a ruler, different colored pens or markers. You can do all of this in advance and leave your bullet journal ready to go, or you can do it month by month. Either way, you’ll need some spare time to sit down on a desk and structure it all.
  • I have nothing to write down: I see pictures of pretty bullet journals on Pinterest and Tumblr, pages filled with handwritten notes about the things that must be done in the day. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the point in writing everything you’re going to do. Like “do laundry”, how can you even forget? In my case, I designate certain activities to certain dates of the week. Like watering my plants, I know I must do it every Sunday. So do I really need to write it down? You see, I only write down the type of stuff that I know I’ll most likely forget. Which is why I was left with so much blank space.
  • I already have other types of journals: I’m a bit of a stationary hoarder and I love carrying around with me a little “notebook of ideas” as I like to call it. Any interesting quote, idea or shopping list, that’s where I’ll write it down. I also have my personal journal, which you could call like a type of diary, where I keep poetry and whatever ramblings are on my mind. Then there’s my lunar journal, which I’ve recently started using for keeping track of lunar phase dates and setting my intentions. Lastly, I have a small notebook for fiction and creative writing, where I jot down ideas for characters and plot lines (hopefully I’ll write a novel someday).
I’ll see how this new year goes with my regular store bought planner. Have you tried bullet journaling before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

Accepting my INFJ personality

It’z crazy how a four letter acronym can define you so well. I found out I had an INFJ personality a few years ago, but didn’t start giving it much importance until I came across a website that created content specially for introverts, it’s called Introvert Dear. Reading the articles written by other like me made me feel more comfortable with my personality. I also learned that I have one of the rarest types.

Embracing it is something relatively new to me. As a kid, I always felt something was different about me. I was comfortable being me, but having others constantly ask me “why are you so quiet?” made it seem like I was acting wrong. That’s when it began, the whole “blending in” process. I did it in order to avoid answering questions to which I had no other explanation than “that’s how I am”. After attempting to explain myself a few times, I realized that extroverts seldomly understand introvert’s motives. Back then, however, I did not know these characteristics had labels.

Interestingly enough, I ended up in the faculty I would have least expected: psychology. It wasn’t until college that I began comprehending it all. That the world isn’t black and white, that very few individuals are entirely introverts or extroverts. On most cases, we’re all ambiverts with different levels of intro/extraversion. I learned that there was nothing wrong with me, that temperament and personality is not something you get to choose consciously, but rather develops by hereditary and environmental factors.

The Myers and Briggs test isn’t the only one nor the most precise. A more detailed personality test is The Big Five, which measures: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Despite this, it’s hard to fully state that one is better than the other. As a psychologist, I can assure you that nothing is written on stone. There are various branches and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few years from now, a new theory was developed.

All in all, even if I can be a bit of an extrovert on occasions, I haven’t found any other result than can describe me so precisely. This doesn’t mean that I won’t change over time –shifts are always possible. But for now, I won’t shy away from telling the world my four-letter type.
P.S. This article also appeared in Social Introverts.