I have a life that’s good…

Life is crazy. It can really throw some hardballs at you. Our everyday experiences can encourage our thoughts to take control and bring about discouragement topped off with despair…if we let them.

Though I would say that November has been a pretty great month, it is no secret that I have been struggling with some personal things, some that I can and cannot control. Including being away from my entire support system back home. Not having too many people here in Spain who understand me and what I am trying to accomplish. Juggling multiple responsibilities, including performing on the job, obtaining a Master’s degree and learning Spanish.

And there are moments where a tear or two may fall from my eyes. But then, I suck them up. And recognize that I have a life that’s good…

Of course, I think by now you are beginning to notice a trend in my posts. I enjoy good movies and good music. I mean…who doesn’t?! And right now, I am on my Nashville kick. I just started watching the series (season 1) about 2 weeks ago, and just started on season 3 today. And there has been a song that has stuck with me. But today, more than others… A Life That’s Good is so beautifully touching and is a wonderful reminder of the gratitude I feel for my life and experiences and the people who are a part of them with me.

During the past several, long years, I have been dealing with things that were not my fault, and some things that were consequences resulting from my misguided actions. I could not see the bright light at the end of the tunnel for a long time because I felt I had no way around or out. Since I have made the decision to turn my life around and do something with the gifts that I believe God has blessed me with, I have been so much more open to the obstacles and bumps and bruises that I have been incurring on this new journey of mine.

I do not know if this newfound strength and passion of mine will last. I do not know what the future may bring. Who knows… there might be a moment that breaks me completely if I am not prepared. But I can speak for my strength and passion at the moment. And I feel like I am unstoppable for some reason. I know I am not immortal or anything. I am human. I have feelings. And those feelings can be hurt. But I just feel like everything that I am experiencing is a part of a plan that is necessary for me to experience so that I am able to see the bigger picture and realize all of the goals and aspirations I have envisioned for myself.

While I have my moments, like any other person out there. There is this love inside of me. This compassion. This gratitude for this life that I have been granted. I am so fortunate it is ridiculous. And I am not fortunate by the money I have in the bank (because let me tell you…I could do for some more to keep up with these living abroad expenses) or because I get to live in SPAIN right now. I am fortunate for the people I have been blessed to share my new experiences with. I am fortunate for the opportunity to grow and be something better for myself and others. I am fortunate that I am able to share this love inside of me. (by the way, these babies I get to care for… I LOVE THEM!!)

It is weird. Sometimes I wonder if this optimism and happiness that I feel is also misguided and I am imagining it all. Telling myself that I am optimistic and happy when I am actually scared out of my whits and depressed. Haha.

If this is the case. At the moment, I do not really care. Because I figured, isn’t that where it begins. Telling yourself that you deserve better. That tomorrow will be a brighter day. That “this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”. It begins with us. Believing in ourselves. And believing that we can change our stars and do something positive for ourselves and others.

At the moment, I do not have anything intriguing to speak about. Because of my hectic schedule, I haven’t been able to really work on my “independent research project”. Though I intend to when I visit Madrid sometime soon hopefully. At the moment, my life basically consists of me, my current household and the people that live in it, and trying to make a positive impression on the people here in Spain so I can make a contribution. I just felt compelled to express myself and show my gratitude in that I have a life that’s good…

Sittin’ here tonight (LITERALLY…in my bed right now), it reminds me I already have more than I should. Two arms around me, heaven to ground me, and (LOOKING FORWARD TO THOSE MOMENTS WHEN I GET TO TALK TO MY) family that always calls me home. At the end of the day, Lord I pray, I have a life that’s good.

This is something that I hope for everyone living this crazy thing called “Life”. Especially those out there who feel alone. Who are without their friends and family. Those possibly traveling around the world. I hope you are able to find fortune in your days and be gracious for the life you have been given. It is so short. With Love, Nicola

December and January are meant to bring about some great learning experiences for me, including finding somewhere to volunteer (which has not been easy as I have contacted organizations and have not heard back from anyone yet). I am looking forward to what life has to offer…#intrigued #excited #anxious #determined #hungry4more

Because I’m Happy…

I think every person has their moments of despair, anxiety, disappointment, sadness, and discouragement. We are all human. It’s natural, even if we are one of the happiest people around. Life is no easy ballgame for ANYONE to play, even if it seems as though to an onlooking outsider.

But when those moments come around where a person can look past all of the despair, anxiety, disappointment, sadness, and discouragement, and acknowledge the happiness that they have been granted. I think it is important to recognize and show gratitude. So with this post, that is what I intend to do…

Because I am so busy (and tired), I rarely have time to write. I am a horrible blogger. But the truth is, I created this blog to (try to) keep account of my journey and new experiences so I could not only gain perspectives from other global bloggers, but most importantly, so I would not forget (to express myself).

But as I sit here listening to music and writing a new friend that I have made in Spain. It hit me! I have been listening to Pharrell William’s “Happy” on youtube for the past couple of days. I listened to the song twice today. And it is because there is a sense of happiness coursing through me.

While I am dealing with some things internally that no one (but my mother mas o menos) is aware of. I am still able to show gratitude for these moments of happiness because I am able to acknowledge how fortunate I am. I LOVE my job and the kids I get to care for…and most importantly, I feel their love as well. I am in another country getting to experience a whole other world. I am gradually seeking progress and obtaining success in my independent professional endeavors. And both my family and I are in good health. How could I not be happy? How could I not show my gratitude? How could I not be appreciative for this day that has been made, enabling me the opportunity to continue working towards my many, many goals?

It also doesn’t hurt to separate yourself from negativity. Including people who do not promote happiness. Here come bad news talking this and that. Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine. No offense to you, don’t waste your time.

I have met people here in Spain. Some wonderfully nice and welcoming. Some hesitant and judgmental. Some who I think just didn’t click with my personality due to (cultural) misunderstandings and miscommunications. Who knows. Either way, I am thankful for everyone I have crossed paths with because it has given me the opportunity to reevaluate myself and my approach. Being able to recognize my areas of improvement and consider alterations in order to better acclimate myself in my new surroundings has strengthened my chances for achieving happiness and serenity.

And because of this happiness that I feel inside. I know no feelings of regret. I know no feelings of revenge or trying to intentionally do back to others what I feel has been done to me in the few months I have been here (because other than the fact that messing with people’s heads and livelihoods is just not apart of my hustle, bad karma is no bueno). I know feelings of compassion and understanding. We all have something going on in our lives and you never know…

This is what I hope for us all. That in spite of our unfortunate “moments”, that we are able to find contentment in our circumstances. That we are able to set aside our pride, jealousy, envy, regrets, judgements, vengeance, and other emotions and actions birthed by insecurity, fear, and pain. That we are able to experience happiness. It feels so good 😉

Dedicado a Papi, mi nuevo amigo. Con amor, Nicola.

Are We All Lost Stars?

Since being in Spain, I have found that my plans (working a full-time job, implementing a scientific research study, learning a new language, volunteering with non-profit organizations), insecurities (feeling like I have bitten off more than I can chew, being away from all of my friends/family back home, having a low proficiency in the native language), and high expectations of myself have hindered me from truly getting to know this beautiful country and the people that inhabit it. Though this is normal because I am still transitioning, it’s difficult for me to put my expectations on hold sometimes. But despite this, I remain optimistic.

All of my experiences, both good and bad, have led me to this place of being in a foreign country, alone. Despite the sometimes scary notions, through the will of my inner faith, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord (Psalm 121:1-2). He is telling me what to do and is giving me the strength and courage to do so. He is guiding me to a place where I will be able to join others who share my passion to help others. I believe I am here, alone, for a reason. And again, while I believe in Karma. I am aware that things don’t always happen how and when we think they should. But as long as my heart is sincere, I am not worried about the outcome of my journey. (though I can’t say the same for some others that I’ve come across recently…*sigh*)

I have mentioned in previous posts that we have the opportunity and capacity to determine our stars (i.e. path), and change them accordingly when necessary. I have found that allowing my thoughts to victimize me is of no assistance to my cause. Woe, is me. If we’re not careful. Turns into reality.

I am meeting so many wonderfully mysterious and colorful people. I am gaining insight into their hopes and aspirations…into their worries and fears. For example, here in Spain, with a population of 47.1 million, the unemployment rate is still at 24.47% as of the 2nd quarter of 2014 (11,525,370 people unemployed). How discouraging is this? I thought we had it bad in the United States, with a population of 318.1 and a 5.9% unemployment rate (18,767,900 people unemployed). I feel for those I have met, especially the parent who is unable to obtain consistent income or the young person of my generation just graduating from college but unable to find employment. How could I not be optimistic when I am so FORTUNATE to be studying abroad and working for a beautiful family and caring for their 2 children that I adore?

We all seek purpose in this life. Whether we believe our purpose is working a 9 to 5 job, day in and day out so we can maintain a dream of one day having a family of our own. Or whether we believe our purpose is to sacrifice our stability and contentment so we might be able to venture out into the world to do something more unconventional. We’re searching for meaning. But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

I recently came across the film, Begin Again (2013), and it really inspired me. It pretty much exhibited the lows that people experience, and how forgiveness, confidence, finding one’s self, and common goals (in this film, musical collaboration and expression) can lead one to the opportunity of beginning again. The main song of the film, Lost Stars, touched me and is the inspiration behind this post.

I do not know where my path will lead me. But I do know that no matter what is thrown my way and what obstacles I may face, that I am capable of changing and aligning my stars. And I believe that in order for me to find serenity and peace within myself, while I am just fine with enduring these many moments of loneliness (which are inevitable because I am in a foreign country and working on obtaining goals that many are unable to relate to; these moments can also be a good thing because it allows for me to stay FOCUSED on what is most important), I must be open to allowing others to be a part of my journey. Please, see me. Reaching out for someone I can’t see.

Perhaps we ARE all lost stars…trying to find our way to one another so we can light up the dark together. I am full of gratitude in that I know how I want my stars to align. And while I may be just a speck of dust within the galaxy, taking each day as it comes. As I work towards fulfilling my dreams and aspirations, I am learning new things about myself, feeding my starved inner-ignorance by gaining new insights and knowledge, and/or establishing relationships with others who have similar interests. And each day, my stars are properly aligning that much more.

Don’t you dare let (y)our best memories bring you sorrow. Change is inevitable, and change can be good. Allow changes to occur in your life so that you are able to begin (the next chapter) again. Be brave and daring. Take a chance on yourself (and others). You will not be a lost star forever if you continue to yearn for more (new experiences, new knowledge, new relationships, new goals, etc.).

This post is dedicated to all the lost stars in Spain. Dices “Si Se Puede!!” Jajajja. Con amor, Nicola

The Formula for Achieving Serenity

I think I discussed in my “What’s in a Name” post about experiencing true happiness. And I feel this is what every person wants. Some of us may find happiness in making lots of money and others might find happiness in helping others. And with true happiness, comes serenity.

Let me tell you. I never thought I could feel this sense of happiness and serenity. Though I feel I have not reached the maximum capacity, I believe I am on the right path.

While the world seems to be crumbling around me. Loved ones dying. People starving. Friends losing their jobs. Me losing my job. Despite all of these discouraging events, there is something in me that nothing seems to be able to shake. My life is no where close to being perfect, and it may never be. But the troubling feelings and thoughts that I felt a year ago, even 3 months ago, are no longer present.

I wish I could express exactly what it is that is instilling this unexplainable sense of hope in me. Perhaps it is my determination. My need to be better and do something bigger than myself. Perhaps it is just the right time in my life. While it was unfortunate that I had to lose my job, as many others in our screwed up economy have as well. Maybe this was all meant to be.

In another previous post of mine I discussed Karma and whether or not if our paths are determined based on our own thoughts and actions or the predetermined path already designed and destined for us to walk. And as I consider all the not so great events that have occurred in my life, I have come to realize that I am so fortunate to be where I am. I have a loving and encouraging family who are always there for me. I have friends that accept me for who I am and remain supportive even through their own hardships. And I have a roof over my head. How can I not feel contentment and peace?

I am excited to find myself. I am determined to tear down the walls that I have built up over the years through disappointment and pain. I am passionate about touching the lives of others and doing something that will leave a beautiful mark on this world when I am no longer here. I realize that I may not be able to accomplish all of my goals, but I intend to dedicate myself no matter the unexpected circumstances.

Se·ren·i·ty (noun) = the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. I am at least 50 percent there. And have only begun my journey. Being able to let go of the “stuff” that is irrelevant and has no place in my thoughts and heart has shed so many burdens that I have held on to for many years.

I have decided to challenge myself to do the following everyday, at least once a day:

1) Give up a fear or worry to the universe (or a higher power such as God)

2) Express my gratitude by saying “Thank you” or showing my appreciation

3) Doing something healthy for myself (such as exercising, eating a healthy meal, taking my vitamins, reading an inspirational book, etc.)

4) Fulfilling a guilty, but positive pleasure (such as having dessert after dinner, treating myself to a movie, wearing no underwear to bed, not counting my daily calories and intake or tracking the time I exercised)

5) Doing something kind and selfless for someone else (such as listening to them vent without expressing my opinion, letting someone over into my driving lane, taking the time to see how you can help someone less fortunate like the homeless)

6) Speaking positivity into my day and allowing my spirit to believe that my words are not just an affirmation, but a reality waiting to be revealed


I personally feel that all of these challenges will allow for me to reach a level of contentment and happiness that I feel I deserve, and they will encourage me to achieve a state of serenity. No matter what is happening around us, we have a choice of how we will handle the situation. And it is time for me (and you) to take control of the myriad thoughts that trickle in when we do our best to block them out. We all deserve the opportunity to reach the place of serenity that we need in order to survive this “crazy thing called life”.

PRAYER FOR SERENITY: God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can & wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. AMEN. ~Reinhold Niebuhr

Have you established your own list of challenges that have helped you to achieve serenity? Any good ideas that others can consider? Please Do Tell Nicola…