So, Refinery29 Shared One Of My Tweets On Their Platform, But I‚Äôm Not Here For It

It’s a Monday afternoon in NYC on a warm June day. I am feeling the lull of the post-2PM blues, and I see a notification on my Instagram account. I see one of my girls commented on a post with my handle, @andreakcastillo, and a bunch of exclamation points. I see that the post is on the Refinery29 Instagram account; they had screenshot one of my tweets and used it for a #mondaymotivation post. At first, I am flattered they chose me, given their reach, but as a blogger/freelance writer/content creator in the social media space, I immediately comment on my friend’s comment “woooooow! Can ya girl get credited tho @refinery29?” And so it began.

Minutes after the comment, I see multiple friends IRL and on social media adding my post to their stories, commenting, and pushing the fact that Refinery29 should tag me as it is the ethical thing to do. 24 hours go by, and at this point all the top comments on the post are my friends telling them to properly credit me. During this time, I personally DMed the post to Refinery saying this was my tweet, and how I would like to be credited. No response.

I then go on a bit of a search, scrolling their IG page to see similar “inspirational tweets” and check to see if the authors were credited. Indeed, a few of the authors were credited; one that had over 20K followers, and another that had over 1 million. I scrolled further down the page to find posts similar to mine that were not credited. The linking factor? We all had less than 5K followers.

Riddle me this. As a publication focused on women and their overall empowerment within career, sexuality, self-esteem, beauty & style, just to name a few, why WOULDN’T you tag those with a smaller following? That would be a pretty diplomatic decision, no? But instead, you shine more light on those already in the light. How is this helpful, and how does this contribute to your ideals as a media enterprise?

I am not just upset for the basic fact that my words were stolen and not properly credited, but for the story behind those words in the first place. Here is an image of my tweet that Refinery29 posted:

The date and time of the tweet was April 2nd at 8:50 PM (oddly enough, the time I was born). I wrote this tweet because I was at an extremely low point emotionally and spiritually. Rapper & entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle had been murdered in cold blood 48 hours prior in Los Angeles, and I, like many of my peers across the world were having a very difficult time grasping our new reality. I find myself lucky at this point to have crossed paths with him in 2013 when I worked at an entertainment website, but so much was unnerving to me. How can an individual in the spotlight with such deep ties to his community and the betterment of the advancement of his people be taken from us in such a heartless way? I was particular shaken, as through watching his many interviews, I connected deeply to his ideology, that of speaking the truth. It made me think to myself, “If I continue to speak the truth on social media, and in public spaces, will that be the cause of my own demise?”

Here is the rest of the thread I wrote that evening:

AKC_Tweet

I was overwhelmed by the response, quickly receiving likes and retweets at such a rapid rate that I could hardly keep up. So many personal stories were shared with me, specifically the fact of how timely my posts were in a time when we were hurting en masse. It brought me back to this idea of that I create some of my best works at my lowest points, so for my tweet to be stolen by Refinery29 feels like exploitation. I understand that as a freelance writer, I should be political and not make efforts to burn bridges, but in the words of Erykah Badu, “I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit.” I have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

What I’m Reading: “A New Model” by Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham- A New Model

Supermodel Ashley Graham is a public figure that I have been digging for some time now. From her standing relationship as a spokesmodel for Lane Bryant to her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, I have always been able to see her confidence through her images. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of her memoir, “A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty & Power Really Look Like”, in the mail back in May. Written with Rebecca Paley (the same co-author as Nadia Lopez’s “The Bridge To Brilliance”, which I reviewed here) the book is published by Dey Street Books, an imprint of Harper Collins.

As soon as I opened the book, I enjoyed the no-nonsense tone, similar to how you would speak to a good friend. It’s not condescending or high-brow, just super down-to-earth, and incredibly informative. We learn the story of a young curvy girl who was discovered in a mall in Nebraska, and her bumpy road to stardom. Having developed womanly curves and her tall stature by the age of 12, Ashley dealt with much frustration and confusion from family, classmates, and society alike. How is a young girl with the body of a woman supposed to dress? In what manner does a small-town, Christian girl deal with success in the big city of New York? What is dating life like? Who can she trust with her finances?

These types of questions, and more, are answered in this easy-to-read memoir by Graham. Aside from learning about her road to supermodeldom (is this a word?), I really enjoy the story of how she met her husband, cinematographer Justin Ervin, on a chance moment at church. She does not hold back in regards to her personal life, struggles, and successes alike, which I believe is helpful for the many young women who may read this book. She reminds you that despite all the glitz and glam, and collections with Dressbarn and Canadian retailer Addition Elle, she is just like us.

I would recommend this book to any young woman who aspires to model regardless of their size, race, or identity. I would also recommend this book to people a little bit further in their careers who need a bit of inspiration in the story of a woman who has found success in truly being herself.

Purchase here: A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like

Summer Solstice 2017: How Will You Spend The Longest Day Of The Year?

Sun shining on the Caribbean Sea at Caye Caulker

June 21, 2017 (today) is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is at the highest point in the sky. It is officially the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year as it is the day we have the most sunlight. In different parts of the world in a multitude of cultural traditions, the day marks a time of renewal and healing; a time to let go of/burn things of the past that no longer serve you. It is a time where self-care and self-love is extremely important.

I, along with many of my friends, have been going through a major shift. It can have many names, but simply put, we are at a time where we have found that we need to make many changes, whether they be very small or monumental, to move forward. Personally, I have been exhausted. I know a part of it has to do with my lack of establishing proper boundaries in my work and personal life, along with anxiety about my life path and future. Add in spreading myself too thin and not affirming my strengths to the mix, and you get one exhausted/confused/drained Andrea.

It can be extremely frustrating to work toward many goals just to have the rug ripped from beneath your feet, reverting you back to stage one. To be honest, at this point I have lost count of how many times the hypothetical rug has been pulled from beneath me, but what I am realizing now is that it was probably pulled for a reason. Maybe what I thought was the right path, wasn’t. Maybe I had to start again because if I went down my intended path, I would be greeted with unsavory individuals who do not have my best interest at hand. As a self-identified control freak (I am working on this), it would feel like my world stopped when something wouldn’t go my way. I would turn off from the world, fall into a depression, and ruminate on my shortcomings, negatively affecting those around me.

In shutting off from the world and finding almost too much comfort in solitude, you don’t hear what the outside world thinks. Yes, in the case of the outside world being negative, it is great to take time to yourself to renew and refresh, but how about when they have great things to say, and you are unavailable to hear them? An event that mirrors this sentiment just came up in my life last week, and it really opened my eyes.

Sunset at Caye Caulker

For maybe the thousandth time since I began the blog, I considered shutting it down, again. I have had trouble writing as I have been going through a lot in my personal life, and the act of just starting a post was quite debilitating. I would go through moments of skimming back on blog archives as well as my social media, trying to pinpoint when & where things went downhill. I couldn’t find an exact spot, but I did notice the places where my posts did not occur for months on end. During another wallowing in my sorrows moments, when I was simultaneously decluttering my space, I received a message on Facebook from a friend from college. I was actually surprised to hear from her, as we had not spoken in some time.

My friend, Damaris Vasquez-King, is a teacher at Soundview Academy for Culture & Scholarship, a middle school in the Soundview section of the South Bronx. She reached out as she had been following the blog, and wanted to gauge my interest in speaking to her students for a career day. I immediately said yes after I was told the date. Prior to this, I had never spoken to youth about my career path because I never felt sure about it, and thought I would not have enough information to speak on. I admit, I had to psych myself out a bit for the speaking gig, which was on June 15th, because I thought I would fail. To my surprise on that day, I did astronomically better than I expected.

I spoke to a group of about 24 girls in her class about blogging and freelance writing, a bit about myself, and what types of topics I cover. I was slightly nervous, but calm as the girls were very inviting, and genuinely seemed interested in what I was saying, despite being the last speaker of the day. Throughout my talk, Ms. Vazquez (Damaris) added how she used my blog as an example to her class of how you can use a blog/online platform as a place of positivity as opposed to malice. I almost shed a thug tear. I had no idea, and it really made me feel really proud as in that moment, I knew my words were positively affecting the next generation.

It is so easy in the realm of blogging to get caught up on numbers, especially when you want to work with big brands. Partnership deals are great and all, but if what I am doing cannot be a place of positivity or teach someone something new, why even do it? It shifted my focus completely, and since I have been thinking more deeply about my vocation that I believe was written way before I got here; to teach.

So on this Summer Solstice, I will be kind to my mind, body, and soul, and really dig deeper into what my next move is. Perhaps, I can teach you something.

 

*Photos by Andrea K. Castillo

#WorldBookDay Reads: “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur

Since as long as I could remember, I have been a bibliophile. I would love (and still love) to be surrounded by beautifully bound books, spending lots of time in libraries, and skimming through the collections of family and friends. I am quite old school in the sense that I do love to purchase physical books, a pastime of mine since college. As of late, I make time to wander about in local bookstores to find new and old works from my favorite authors and friends. On a recent jaunt to the McNally Jackson bookstore at the top of the year in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, I found myself searching specifically for a friend’s book, as well as a few more titles to tickle my fancy. My budget is nowhere near endless, so along with the title I was there for specifically, I wanted to keep my spend under $40 if possible. I walked each bookshelf looking for something that would speak to me, and as I got closer to checkout, I decided to pick up Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I had heard great things about the book of poetry, and with a 20% off ticket on the cover, I was sold.

I was super happy with my purchases, including a beautifully illustrated wall calendar and daily planner, and was pumped to dig into the book. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but I kind of psych myself up to read new books, but often delay. Perhaps it is my anxiety, but for some reason with books, I know I will be moved to read them at just the right time. Fast forward a few months, and I am preparing for my first solo trip to Belize. My intent for the trip (aside from nabbing a super-cheap flight) was to learn more about the stories of my family, specifically the women, and reach out to certain members of the community for work-related articles. I have flown to Belize solo in the past, but never travelled completely on my own as trips prior were with my parents or entire immediate family. I decided to bring Milk and Honey in tow as I knew I would have a bit more downtime to just read and be.

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Springing Into Year Six Of The Blog: A Reflection

Walking Into Year SIX!

As I sit here composing this here post, I think to myself, “Where has all the time went?” On April 18, 2011, I created A Life In The Day of Andrea, publishing my first post detailing the inspiration behind the blog’s name, and what I would be writing about. In the now six years since its inception, my site has been the impetus to the majority of my work in writing (both editorial and otherwise), photography, video & film, and a major catalyst in meeting and connecting with interesting people and brands all over the world. As a freelancer with a varied skill set who is always trying to find creative and fulfilling ways to make a living, I admit that sometimes the blog, which was to be an extension of myself, has been neglected much over these past six years. I hear similar sentiments¬†when I speak to my contemporaries in the blogosphere. Sometimes, we create this online space as a promotional tool, to show the world how cute we are to get modeling gigs, how impressionable we are to sell the products of others, and what a damn good writer we are to get writing gigs at respectable publications that we always dreamed of contributing to.

But how can one forget about themselves when that outlet for self (i.e. blog) is what got you to where you are right now? It is quite easy, by simply doing that, forgetting about oneself.

Always a silly moment

Reaching another April is always a reminder of starting something new, and for me, it has been one of my most reflective months of the past six years.¬†Because of this, I overanalyze what I have done in the past 365 days from both a professional and personal standpoint and because I am a perfectionist (which I am actively working on ending); I often feel that I have fallen short. On this day, I look back and think why I haven’t properly promoted myself over these years? Why is my following so low? Why are people not reading my posts like they used to? Why are these newer bloggers getting all the campaigns that I’ve wanted for so long? All my questions have really boiled down to “What am I doing wrong?” Continue reading

In Photos: On The Ground At #WomensMarchOnWashington

We The People, artwork by Shephard Fairey

January 21, 2017. The day after the inauguration of a new president in the United States of America, whose name I refuse to say. The first day of a complete shift to a new regime and day of resistance marches all around the world. The premier event, the Women’s March on Washington,¬†was held this morning and afternoon along Independence Ave., and it is on this day that I officially have become a part of the resistance.

You Cunt Touch This

As of this morning, I have been in Washington DC a few days, specifically to photograph Thursday evening’s Peace Ball at the new National Museum of African American History & Culture. Prior to today, I have not attended a march, and was super excited to do so as the timing was perfect, and I have never felt more strongly for the equal rights and progression of women all over the world. A group of six of us, all women of different ages and ethnic backgrounds, attended the march together, and the spirit in the air was incredibly positive. From our trip to the diner early this morning to fuel up pre-march, to getting to the Metro to head into downtown DC, 90% of the faces that were presented before us were of our fellow woman.

It almost felt as though every woman (and man) that had an opportunity to travel to or commute to DC for the march specifically, did. Arm in arm, outfitted in¬†buttons, “pussy hats” (see below), and posters in hand, my photographic intent was to capture the words of the people via those posters.

 

Pussy Grabber

Central themes included that of women’s reproductive rights, immigration, rights of indigenous peoples and their land, sisterhood, denouncing the President and his authority, and solidarity. These themes were vocalized in the words of the vast array of speakers, including America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Gloria Steinem, Janet Mock, Van Jones, Donna Hylton, and many many more.

Said Gloria Steinem in reference to our new president’s careless and immature use of social media (and possibly referencing Drake):

…that a Twitter finger does not become a trigger finger.

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What I Am Reading: “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay

When it comes to journeys in life, some things you have to embark on at the exact right time. Whether it be making a big move, changing careers, becoming more fit, or even, reading a new book. In past posts I have documented my struggles with depression and anxiety over the years, and during this time, I always had the idea in the back of my mind that I had to switch focus, and actively walk in the path to healing. I have had an interest in self-help books for some time now because I have always found the knowledge of experts to be helpful when friends or loved ones could not always help. Suggested by my good friend Moeima, You Can Heal Your Life is one such book.

Written by self-help guru Louise Hay and published by her imprint Hay House, You Can Heal Your Life is one of those books I was told you have to be ready to read, and it’s true. I originally purchased the book in the earlier part of the year, and became quite frustrated with its format. It was not an easy read by any means, as it was set up as more of a workbook. Louise discusses different topics by chapter, begins and ends each chapter with affirmations, and asks questions throughout that the reader is to answer either within the pages of the book, or on a pad of paper. In the early part of the year, I was not ready to do this, but once I began therapy over a month ago, I knew jumping back into the book would be imperative to my healing.

I brought it with me wherever I would go, on my subway trips to and from the city, reading intently and voicing all affirmations in my head. It felt so easy at this time, because my timing was finally right, I could apply lessons and teachings through a clear lens, without the disruption of negative thoughts. Throughout the book Hay reiterates the importance of positive affirmations and truly loving the self in all forms, from the foods you eat, the way you speak of yourself, and the  way you present yourself to the world. Reading more about these teachings made me realize that I may have great ideas for and about myself, but that it is imperative that I truly believe it all, and share it with those in the world around me.

If you are in a rut and willing to actively walk on the road to healing, I would definitely suggest reading You Can Heal Your Life. It will not be the easiest read, and it makes you stop and analyze many aspects of your life, but at the very least, it will help you gain practices to truly love every bit of yourself.

Available at Hay House and other fine book retailers.

Event: Camel Assembly x Overthrow Present #GrabMyGloves, Bringing Awareness To Domestic and Sexual Abuse, Sun. 11/20/16

For a little over a year now, I have been a part of a wonderful women’s collective called Camel Assembly. Spearheaded by my good friend and fellow Sistergoddess, Yelda Ali, we gather for monthly assemblies to exchange ideas, team build, and collaborate for the greater good. This Sunday, November 20th, we are holding a very special assembly paired with an incredibly important social campaign for our fellow women; raising awareness for domestic and sexual abuse.

The #GrabMyGloves campaign is the vision of Sistergoddess Heather Ovieda, whose aim was to use¬†assembly as a means to raise social awareness for a cause too many women unfortunately succumb to at some point in their lives. The women-only event will be held at Overthrow Boxing Club, where attendees/spectators will be able to view select Camels sparring for charity in the ring. Following this will be a panel discussion featuring three of Overthrow’s female trainers¬†Alicia Napoleon, Melissa St. Vil, and Ronica Jeffrey, where they will tell their stories and personal experiences with domestic and/or sexual abuse. I am humbled to be interviewing the fighters and moderating the discussion. It will definitely be a powerful moment where our voices will be heard!

Tickets for the event are $30 a seat, with proceeds going to the¬†National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.¬†The main event will be at¬†Overthrow Boxing¬†from¬†3-5pm. The “afterparty” will be at¬†Gelso & Grand¬†from¬†5-8pm. Tickets are still available¬†for purchase now. Grab yours here. If you are unable to attend, or are a man (sorry guys!), you can still donate whatever you can to help support the cause. Hoping to see you on Sunday!
Sunday, November 20, 2016 | 3 – 5 PM
9 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10012

When The Going Gets Tough, You Compete in Your 1st Tough Mudder With Noah Galloway

Team Merrell at Tough Mudder

When the going gets tough, what do you do? Do you rise to the challenge, or whimper at the idea of possible defeat? Depending on your circumstances, the answer to this question can have a myriad of options. A few weeks back when I recounted my mental health journey, I was not having the best time. In that week I was invited to participate in a Tough Mudder competition on a media team sponsored by Merrell and led by Noah Galloway. Galloway, an army veteran that lost his leg and a part of his arm in the line of duty, is the Tough Mudder ambassador and recently released a book on his journey entitled Living With No Excuses.

Since I was feeling a bit down, I stared at the email for a very long time before I responded because the idea of competing in a mud run scared me. At the time I had not worked out in month, and I was scared that I would hurt myself as I was not in the best shape. After speaking with reps via email, I decided to do it as a voice inside me told me to do something that scares you. I psyched myself for the remainder of the week and was ready to go bright and early that Saturday morning.


Eggs Benny from Jack’s Wife Freda. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

We started our day with a lovely breakfast at Jack’s Wife Freda in the West Village. The super cozy all-day American-Meditteranean bistro has a plethora of delectable (and healthy) breakfast options. After much back and forth, I decided on the Eggs Benny which was two poached eggs on a potato latke, served with smoked salmon and beet hollandaise, paired with a latte to sip on. As we finished up eating, reps from Merrell began to distribute our gear for the mud run and post-activities. It included the following items:

Once we were geared up, it was off to the sprinter van with our team to head to Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ, the site of this year’s Tough Mudder Tri-State and Tough Mudder Half Events. Our team competed in the Tough Mudder Half; a 5 mile course containing 13 military-style obstacles. What is unique about Tough Mudder and other similar events is that it is not an individual race, but based on teamwork. With that in mind, my anxiety lessened a bit on our way to the course, and once I saw it, I felt much better about my decision.

Climbing the Pyramid Scheme

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What I’m Reading: “The Bridge To Brilliance: How One Principal In A Tough Community Is Inspiring The World” by Nadia Lopez

A few weeks back, I recapped the book release and conversation event for Dr. Nadia Lopez’s newly published work, The Bridge to Brilliance,¬†at BRIC Media House in Downtown Brooklyn. As I have completed the book, I wanted to share my experience in reading it, and the lessons that have rang true to me. The Bridge To Brilliance is a non-fiction work by Dr. Nadia Lopez, principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy middle school in Brownsville, Brooklyn. She quickly rose to fame on the internet in the past year when a student of hers named Vidal mentioned to Brandon Stanton of the popular Humans of New York blog, that she was the person that most influenced his life. The viral reaction of this post led to a full profile on the school, its staff and students, and a massive crowdfunding campaign to send the students on annual trips to Harvard, which was fully funded over 10 times over.

The book recounts Lopez’s own childhood, growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to immigrant parents (from Guatemala and Honduras, respectively), and how¬†good teachers affected her life and livelihood in her younger years. It focuses on ¬†Lopez’s¬†transition from the corporate world working at Verizon to the NYC Board of Education as a Teaching Fellow, to her current position as founder and principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. The tone of the book is very no-nonsense and easy to read as it is the words of an educator. Lopez clearly gives breakdowns on the NYC Board of Education and its processes in funding, mass gentrification and its effects on students, and the importance of taking students outside of their school and comfort zones to experience the vast world outside of Brooklyn, New York.

As the daughter of immigrant parents from Belize who have worked for (and continue to work for) the NYC Board of Education in special education the majority of my life, I immediately connected with the majority of the stories in Lopez’s book. A lot of jargon, specifically in the special education sector, which Lopez worked in in her earlier years, was easy for me to understand as I have learned it from my parents. It felt like with each page I turned, I was reading the experience of someone just like me, which I do not often experience when reading books. The words are very familiar.

What I did not entirely expect, was the amount of trials and tribulations that Lopez went through, both in her personal and professional life, to get to where she is today. She mentions that she was on the point of giving up when Brandon Stanton visited her school. It made me realize that everything is not as it seems, and that sometimes in life we have to reach rock bottom in order to go up. Her steadfastness and relentlessness did not allow her to give up on herself or her students when the future was not promised. I really enjoy this story because it really did inspire me to keep going, but to be kind to myself. Women, particularly Black women and other WOC are often expected to be strong, but it is necessary to have a tribe of women and men to lean on in the tough times to get through it all.

If you are interested in learning more about the NYC public school system, or are a lover of inspirational stories (or both), I would definitely suggest picking up The Bridge To Brilliance. The book is available for purchase at booksellers nationwide, with all online retailers listed on Dr. Lopez’s official website. Happy reading!

 

*Photo via Amazon.com

Recap, The Stoop Series: Nadia Lopez in Conversation w/ Michaela Angela Davis

To live in an ever-changing Brooklyn, NY, in a world where women are STILL fighting for equal rights can prove to be exhausting. To quote the late Malcolm X,

The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.

As a Belizean-American woman who identifies as Black, I make it my duty to seek out empowering spaces, activities, and events, for women and girls. I always welcome the opportunity for verbal exchange, as I see it as a form of self-care.

While browsing the BRIC website, the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, I was excited to see a free event on the calendar entitled, Bridge to Brilliance: Nadia Lopez in Conversation with Michaela Angela Davis. As coins are a bit low for me, the FREE was a huge draw, but the women featured were most important. By now, you should be familiar with Dr. Nadia Lopez, the Principal at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Her story became viral via popular Instagram account & blog, Humans of New York, when her student Vidal, mentioned to Brandon that she was the person who has influenced him the most.

The conversation, moderated by CNN contributor and image activist Michaela angela Davis was to serve as the release event of Lopez’s book,¬†BRIDGE TO BRILLIANCE: How One Principal in a Tough Community is Inspiring the World.¬†I purchased my copy of the book prior to the event as I figured the inspiring story would help lift my spirits, and help me get out of the “I’m 30 and I have no idea what I am doing with my life” rut.

The event, held on the evening of Tuesday, September 20th, took place on “The Stoop” at BRIC, where many public community events are held. At 7 PM, introductions were made, and we began the night watching Dr. Lopez’s TED Talk “Why open a school? To close a prison”, which was filmed in November 2015.

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A Message To You, and Myself: OWN THAT SHIT!

A SNAP OF MY COCKTAIL TASTING AT NEW YORK TRAVEL FEST

As a young professional woman, at times, I can say the odds are against me. Those odds are raised as a young professional woman of color; not an opinion, but pure fact. It is fact that there is a lack of melanin and varied hair textures in higher management and executive positions across all fields. It is fact that we earn less than our male counterparts. It is fact that we receive more discrimination, whether it be simply for our gender, sexuality, race, or any other reason under the sun. This can put a damper on my and your mood, given your circumstance, but in these times, I always need to remind myself that things can be exponentially worse.

The simple fact in that my parents decided to uproot themselves from Belize to provide a “better life” for their children in the United States has granted me many opportunities, specifically in education and the workforce. Being in New York City has been beneficial for me as it is an epicenter for entertainment and media. Things are within my reach, I would say. I do not remain complacent, although at times, I do struggle with a bit of a sense of entitlement, given the fact that I really hit the ground running building industry contacts since the age of 18. That is now ten years.

MY BADGE FOR THE COINVENT MEDIA SUMMIT

I’ve always been a dreamer, but very vocal in what I’ve wanted and continue to want. That voice and will has afforded me great opportunities, but I can say to this date, I can get overwhelmed. Something as simple as being able to be in the same room as one of your idols, or better yet, have a conversation with them; that’s a HUGE DEAL. I look back at emails, and photos, and writings, and I am often taken aback by goals that I have achieved without even realizing it. I have also realized that in times like these, I need to give myself a pat on the back because it was not pure luck which brought these things into my life, it was through tons of hard work and relationship building. I DESERVE IT. And I am here to tell you that you deserve all the incredible opportunities that come into your life as well.

In the past week and a half, I presented & did a tasting at the New York Travel Fest on behalf of my fledgling beverage company Cas Rum Beverages, I was invited to attend the CoInvent Media Summit, which focused on the intersection of media and tech, and attended the final day of the Women In The World Summit, which featured a special presentation and call to action by Angelina Jolie Pitt. Sounds like a lot right? And I can say it is, especially in such a short time, but I know this is all happening now because I’ve truly worked so hard over the years to get to this point.

BLURRY IPHONE PHOTO OF ANGELINA JOLIE PITT AT WOMEN IN THE WORLD

I’ve got a long way to go, but I am reminded each day that I am truly on the right path. Don’t beat yourself up. With each missed connection and sleepless night, you are preparing yourself for something great. Trust your journey.

WOMANday: ‘So…What Are You Training For?’ An Explanation In Words About My Road to Nike Women’s 15 K Toronto

Stretching out my arms at NTC Gym

A little over a month ago, I shared a story with you all regarding getting back into running, and creating a fitness regimen for myself via complimentary weekly classes offered by Nike + NYC. Now, finishing out my third month of training and running with Nike +, I am seeing results and building up stamina, attending up to five sessions a week.

Instructor Traci Copeland helping me with my Triangle Pose

I like to cross train, meaning I like to vary my activity from day to day as to not overwork muscles, or worse, injure myself. Monday nights I attend NTC Gym which is a power-packed gym class utilizing one’s own body weight. Tuesday evenings are for Speed Run (if I can get in) at Mile High Run Club, a treadmill class of varying intervals to build speed and strength. Thursday mornings I attend NTC Studio yoga to focus on stretching, balance, and building my core. Weekends are usually light, but every now and then, I will attend the H.I.T. & Run on Sunday, which is a mix of high intensity training and running drills.

My confirmation for the race!

When I first began, and even still now, many people close to me would ask, “So…what are you training for?”. Being the smartass that I am, I would usually respond “For life”, mainly because there was no specific event that I was training for. I wanted to be physically stronger, and had a goal of running at least one race by summertime. As of this month, I am closer to that goal as I am officially registered to run the Nike Women’s 15 K in Toronto!

Team work

Being a part of Nike + NYC granted me a guaranteed spot in the race which will be held on June 14, 2015. I’m really focusing on becoming a stronger and faster runner, with the help of my coaches and friends who will be running with me come June. I’m really excited for this journey, and so happy to be visiting Toronto to catch up with some of my favorite people.

This is just the beginning.

 

*Photos courtesy of Nike + NYC

Finding Your Sexy: Andrea’s Beauty & Fashion Picks To Make You Feel Sexy This Valentine’s Day, and Every Day!

Let me start off by saying this. This is NOT a guide of cute things to do/wear to impress a significant other/potential suitor porsay, but a list of some of my personal favorite things that make me feel that much sexier. Society constantly places all these expectations of what is beautiful/sexy for a woman on us constantly, and I’ve realized, it’s really the simple things that make me feel beautiful. And with that, let’s get into my picks to “Find Your Sexy”.

HAIR: Swangggg it!

Ok, so hair can be a touchy subject right? Too short, too long, too curly, too thick, but whatever happened to really owning your ‘do? My shorter ‘do has recently grown out, and since we are in the dead of winter, I’ve been straightening my curly locks because it’s pretty low maintenance. My hair focus, whether curly or straight, is health and moisture. I am a huge fan of Agadir Argan Oil’s product line for straightening my hair as they are very moisturizing and maintain shine. I prefer to use the volumizing shampoo & conditioner during the cold months as the air usually makes my roots go flat. Below are all the items I use to get sleek strands with shiny, tousled curls.

Picks & Styling Info


LIPS: Pucker Up!

As a woman who has lips of a certain size and shape, I love to focus attention on them when I have the opportunity to, because I’ve realized, a good lip color makes people pay attention to what I’m saying, HA! So what do I suggest, you ask? MOISTURE, again, is key. Drinking lots of water is a necessity, but a lip balm of some sort is essential.

Condition

I really love Carmex’s Moisture Plus line because it is in a slim slick form, covered in cute designs. The hint of vanilla and SPF 15 are a great balance to use on its own, or pre-lip color application. I also use it on my lips at night to wake up to baby-soft lips every morning.

Show Out!

MILANI COLOR STATEMENT MOISTURE MATTE LIPSTICK IN ‘GLAM’

I have a love affair with statement lip colors, and have a plethora of pricey colors in my arsenal. I’m really digging Milani colors right now as they are super-affordable (about $5 at local drugstores), and are offered in a moisture/matte formula.

Picks


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What Oscar de la Renta Meant To Me, A Look Back

Oscar de la Renta with model Karlie Kloss backstage at his Spring 2013 show. Photo: Google

Born in the Dominican Republic, trained in Europe, and coming into his own in the United States, Oscar de la Renta is one of THE modern masters of fashion design. Upon hearing of his passing yesterday evening [October 20th], I was overcome with emotion, and in this time, I gave myself a moment to reflect. I first become familiar with the name “Oscar de la Renta” as a young girl; my grandma wore his namesake perfume, and always had it sitting front and center on her dressing table. At that time, I was unaware of the fact that he was an incredible fashion designer, but I knew from the presentation of his product that he catered toward a certain type of woman, and that that woman embodied grace, and effortless style.

Over the years, my interest in fashion grew, and I always tried my best to make my ideas a reality with the help of my mother, whom aside from being a schoolteacher, was a seamstress. Together, we made all my dresses for special occasions, and for whatever reason, I was perfectly in-tune to what a “timeless” piece was to look like. I wanted to look like all the beautiful women who wore Oscar de la Renta, and my other favorite designer, Carolina Herrera.

I continued to read and research his career as a designer, and was determined to meet him. On one lucky day in April 2011, about a week before I started this blog, I attended the Fashion Talks series at FIAF, where Oscar de la Renta was the distinguished speaker. He discussed his uncommon path in choosing fashion design, leaving his native Dominican Republic to study art in Europe, and the evolution of his career, working as an apprentice for Balenciaga, transitioning to assisting Elizabeth Arden, to Balmain, and eventually, starting his eponymous label. One thing that rang true in hearing him speak, and viewing his collections is that clothing for women should be wearable. At this time, those words were a wake-up call for me, having learned design in college and feeling like an outcast because my peers designed conceptual collections while mine were actually wearable. I was reassured that I was on the right path.

I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes. – Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta & moderator at FIAF Fashion Talks in 2011. Photo: Andrea K. Castillo

Upon  the closing of his talk, my two co-workers who attended with me and I were determined to meet the man himself. We nuzzled our way backstage upon his exit and were able to shake hands with de la Renta, and confess our admiration for him as a person and a designer. He was so poised and gracious, treating every person like an old friend, exchanging hugs and kisses and well wishes to emerging designers. He really showed me that it was more important to be gracious, than the cold, bitchy diva we are used to seeing in the fashion world. To be someone relatable that could create beautiful things; that is what he showed me, and that is what I try to uphold in my everyday life.

Like many women, I often create the picture in my mind of what I believe my wedding to be like (yes, quite girly I know) and I always picture myself in one of his gowns, specifically the dress below.

Oscar de la Renta wedding gown. Photo: TheKnot.com

Oscar taught me to not be afraid to use color, and to not be afraid to be simple; to be able to retract to embody luxury. He taught me that consistency is key, and that the goal is to create a piece that will stand the test of time. To create something that is timeless; that is what Oscar has done. May his soul rest in peace, and may his influence live on forever.

Closing looks from his Fall 2013 presentation. Photo: Google