Cultivate simplicity. It is a soulful & elegant ingredient in a life well lived

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were big things." Robert Brau

We are deluded and lured by quantity. This era has come to believe that having a lot of stuff is equivalent to a life well lived. We seek to possess lots of everything-- clothing, food, shoes, relationships, furniture, friends, jewelry, books, beauty products, etc-- but as we already know about the 80-20 rule, we rarely use even fifty perfect of the things we own.

Sages have advised that quality does not necessarily mean quantity. Is it not better to fully enjoy a conversation with one intriguing individual than half talks with a dozen not so interesting folks? To have one gorgeously made article of clothing made by a great designer than ten cheaper throwaways made by nameless and exploited workers somewhere in the far east than breakdown after the first wash?

I get why the lure of a lot can be blinding. It's a radiant and superficial showcase of stuff that satiate the instant gratification part of our brain. We want to taste lots of different things now-- like a burst of flavors or colors. Beautiful. But many times a lot leaves you empty. All it gives you is clutter -- both in the head and in your home.  It's best to sit with one intense flavor and savor it, distilling it until your palate fully understands its essence. The thing is that simple doesn't mean bland. On the contrary, there is deep complexity in simplicity and there in lies the beauty and lift of why simplicity is so spiritual and affirmative to the soul.

Film delivers a sobering look at the US-Mexico Border

Luis Carlos Romero Davis's 389 Miles, "Living the Border" is an engrossing, earnest, and honest film that explores the multi-layered and deeply complex issue of our nation's border with its neighbor down south, Mexico. Romero Davis, a son of the borderlands, decided to film what it's like to live along the complicated territory that stretches thousands of miles and traverses four states. He focused along a stretch in Arizona, his birthplace and also the epicenter of controversy and the land of show me your papers law.

The interviews he snags manage to show just how grim, sobering, and deeply entangled the issue really is. What is terrific about Davis' film is his dispassionate look at a highly emotional issue where a multitude of deeply volatile things play out and are at stake--land, culture, nationalistic pride, fear of terrorism, exploitation, violence and of course, millions of dollars.

Do you dream? If not, you may be disconnected from your true self

Dreams hold a special place in the human heart.  They are an essential part of life. Don't sleep on dreams!

In many indigenous traditions dating back thousands of years, dreaming was considered an art form, even nightmares were welcomed since they foretold of things to come. The Mayans for instance were students and masters of dreams. In their society they had someone called a Day Keeper who noted dreams of the community that were then interpreted by the local shaman. They believed that everyone was born with two souls, one that was represented by the body and was  awake during the conscious hours of the day. The other soul awoke when the body soul went to sleep. This second soul was more ethereal, liquid, and could travel to far places, other galaxies and dimensions, communicate, connect, and commune with animals and other souls, and see things and experience things that the body soul could not. Flying anyone?

Keep away from people who try to belittle your dreams. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you too, can become great." Mark Twain

Are you blocking someone else's blessings?

During one of the toughest financial times of my life, a friend handed me an envelope for my birthday filled with several hundred dollar bills. I was stunned at the touching, generous and unexpected gesture. Then I bawled. It was not the money but the thoughtfulness of the act that stirred me deeply. After a good cry, I returned the envelope. I was grateful but felt it was too much money and not necessary. But my friend would not have it. In fact, he became very upset. He sadly told me he simply wanted me to treat myself to something special. As soon as I refused his gift I wiped the beautiful smile he had on his face.

As I later recounted the story to my sister, she quickly admonished me--"don't ever block anyone's blessing, are you crazy?!"

Meeting a real life prince & princess & breaking protocols

Last night I met a real blue blood. Yes, there he is laughing up a storm with me, a commoner.

Felipe, Prince of Asturias, is next in line to the throne of Spain. What--you'd no idea that Spain has royalty? And do they ever! And it's a fascinating, storied, and intriguing history that dates back to the infamous Queen Isabella.

I love that his name, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia, is as tall as his height which is about 7 feet. Could have been a b-ball player if he weren't a prince, I think.

The affair was a reception for his royal highness and his beautiful wife, former television journalist and commoner, Princess Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano to meet Hispanic leaders in the US. They are traveling to several US cities this week to get to know the creme de la creme of Latino USA.  New Jersey was next on the itinerary so I told him that the best thing about Jersey, was not the shore, but the view of the Manhattan skyline. I should know, I grew up looking and being inspired by it.

I broke some royal protocols:

Swim into the ocean of beauty that is you... participate in your own life

Namaste Girls, Gaelle Mediem & me after the class
If taking a Bikram yoga class in a studio is an intense personal experience, participating in a mass yoga class  in the middle of Times Square is freaking spectacular.

Did I say glorious? This was a gorgeous way to usher in summer and celebrate Summer Solstice. Appropriately radiant really.

Organizers of the event dubbed it  Mind Over Madness  and was it ever.  Fourteen thousand people registered and over 4,000 yogis -- of all levels --  from all over the world were on their mats doing rabbits, camels, back bends, mountain poses and more for 90 minutes for the lunch time class held at high noon. What made the class more special was the fact that it was taught by Rajashree Choudhury, wife of Bikram and a four-time yoga champ in her native India. Rajashree's grace and light embraced the ten block area where thousands moved through 26 poses. 

This week may you bathe is powerful cosmic light

According to astrologers, mystics, shamans, and natural healers of the world, this is a powerful week. 

Today is a Blue Moon, tomorrow Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and Sunday, two powerful planets will square off. Coupled with Venus' recent dance around the Sun, it looks like a spectacle of cosmic energies are being showered on earth. 

Are you feeling it yet? Here's the scoop:

Today's new moon in Gemini, is actually a Blue Moon, which doesn't mean that I fully understand what that means, except for the fact that two of my favorite astrologers Astrotwins say its all good and powerful. To celebrate the special energy that moon of rebirth and regeneration is sending our way and take advantage of a rare opportunity, I was recommended a bath that I want to share.  See it after the jump.

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice which is celebrated all over the world with century old rituals. The world solstice comes from Latin, sol, meaning sun and stice, standing still so take the time to stand still at some point and acknowledge the changing of the seasons. There are probably local celebrations all over. But, if you are a brave heart and are in New York City and, come to Times Square for a full on yoga class. I am taking the 12:30 Bikram class being taught by the Bikram's wife, Rajashree Choudhury, a yoga guru in her own right. Still time to sign-up.

Sunday it's on! Astrotwins also say that something about Uranus squaring off in Pluto and it can only mean that serious changes will be happening until next March!

Believing in something you cannot see or prove with science, such as love, God, the stars, takes a leap of faith and I think courage.  I think it was Kierkegaard who first coined the term leap of faith. This week may be calling earthlings to pay attention to a cosmos with an eye toward the stars.

Inside every ritual exists an ingredient that turns the ordinary into extraordinary

Small rituals hold the potential to make a huge difference in our lives. Things like cleaning our closets, washing our car, making a heart shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our kid's lunch, offering thanks before every meal, a sensual bath before a night love making, combing our hair before bed--things we do on a daily basis can be ritualized and in the process made holy.

Something as insignificant as folding laundry can feel glorious if you allow it because inside every ritual exists an ingredient that turns the ordinary into extraordinary. Writer and producer Ahmed Zappa's memory of his mother making the bed is filled with beauty. "I had this whole ritual with my mother making the bed with me inside so that I would be invisible." Play, pretend, and love in this every day seemingly insignificant act transported the young boy into another world, where things were sweet and wonderful. With this his mother and he traveled to the land of milk and honey.

"The only way I will ever be great to myself is not what I do to my body but what I do to my mind." 
                                                      Ramtha School of Enlightenment 

The mysterious and magnificent human brain is the one organ that most of us don't mindfully care for on a daily basis. Because we don't see it, we ignore it. And it's hidden in plain sight -- because how a person acts, thinks, is a sign of how healthy their brain is. Just because its hidden and not obvious to the naked eye -- like your abs, or thighs, or glutes -- that doesn't mean it doesn't atrophy like other muscles. Thing is that not all foods or activities are created equal, some are detrimental to our brain -- stress, violence, shitty relationships, lack of exercise... But the great news is that there are many more things you can do to boost not just the brain's longevity but its vitality.

Your beautiful brain, treat it with kindness. Here are ten activities that do your brain good:

Details on tonight's event... will I see you there?

If you're around New York City stop by tonight's panel discussion exploring media at Instituto Cervantes. Join film maker Luis Carlos Davis, theater producer, composer, and performer Manuel Antonio Moran, web astronaut, Sandra Ordoñez and yours truly. Copies of my book, "The New Latina's Bible," will be available for purchase.

Please make sure you RSVP and add your name to the list. Email:

How to cultivate a soulful kitchen

I used to think that the kitchen was a place of oppression now I find it's the space where I find liberation. And inspiration. The more I cook, the more I understand that what I am doing is a sacred act. I realize that I am in the kitchen because I want to be, not because I have to be. And that is the major difference between a meal that is lovingly prepared, as opposed to something that is quickly thrown together because duty calls for it.

A few months back, I prepared a lavish dinner for my mother who was traveling back to her home in the Caribbean. Preparing five different dishes from scratch was a very ambitious and generous act on my part, especially because I am a neophyte in the culinary arts. But, my beloved mother is worth every bit of time and effort. I tapped into the chef inside of me with heart and soul and prepared two different kinds of shrimp dishes, camarones enchilados and al ajillo, two different kinds of baked chicken, rosemary and Puerto Rican style, a salted cod salad with fresh farmer's market kale, two different kinds of bean casseroles. Oh, did I mention that I baked a corn cake?

When your soul asks to make a bold move, it's not a suggestion, it's a command. Surrender without fear because the soul has integrity.

See the blessings that live beyond your immediate horizon

"A deepening of consciousness usually requires a strong move in life," Thomas Moore, "Care of the Soul."

Most of us have felt these pangs--small but powerful shifts that happen within us alerting us that things are not right and we must change. It's like a call that propels us to pay attention and move to a different stage in our metamorphosis, a different scene in our life's film. Some of us are gently nudged, a "chance" meeting with an old friend who tells us about a dream job in another city for instance. Others on the other hand are pushed without mercy, suddenly getting fired or wanting a separation from a loving spouse to the shock of the spouse, family, friends, and even many times, the self! Despite the painful growing pains, we later discover things about ourselves that we never knew. Bright lessons await on the other side.

Transformation is inevitable, resist the desire to stop the alchemizing of your soul.

However difficult or frightening, Moore argues, these deep and mysterious calls must be heeded--listening to them is life's work because it allows our souls to grow. In fact, he posits, it is our soul speaking, begging to continue evolving.

It's particularly those deep and dramatic shifts that terrify the most. But in order to evolve, monumental changes are usually required of us. Sometimes it may require letting go of people or relationships we have outgrown, other times it's changing secure jobs or moving to a different City, neighborhood, state, or country. For others, it's changing careers or leaving secure jobs. The thing is that when the soul is missing something, it will let us know. There is not much that stops the constant voice reminding us that something ain't right.

And yet as visceral and real as these pangs may be, so many resist and fail to listen, too scared or complacent. Ignoring is a lot easier than going through any growing pains. We stay in jobs we hate, in relationships that rot our hearts, doing the same thing over and over again wishing for different results. We fail to take risks. And as Erica Jong says, "and the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."

Pain is involved always in any transformative change especially because so much mystery and unknown is on the other side. But ignoring the call for change within can take us to a place of endless rot -- or living life in a low level comatose. And, if this goes on for too long, it usually results in illness, both mental and physical. It is said that before we get physically sick, we get spiritually sick. 

Hispanic news site VOXXI called me The Queen of Reivention

I am a queen so I liked the fact the editors shouted me out in such a dignified way. And reinvention is another great way to describe what I believe is a constant in life: transformation.

Sandra Guzmán – La Reina of Reinvention

Sandra Guzmán has been reinventing herself a lot these days. But then again, the author of the ground-breaking Latina’s Bibleand last year’s revised edition, “The New Latina’s Bible,” has never been one to shy away from change.
New Latina Bible Sandra Guzmán   La Reina of Reinvention
At age nine, the Puerto Rican-born journalist moved to Jersey City, N.J., where she says she used to stand on the roof of her tenement building, looking at Manhattan, dreaming of her future life as a writer.
She went on to work at Telemundo, where she won an Emmy, and served as one of the first editors-in-chief of Latina magazine in the late 1990s. Her “New Latina’s Bible” drew praise from fans who found her book based on personal experience about marriage, sex, professional success, spirituality, health and dating violence... MORE 

I took a forest bath & I liked it...

The Japanese call it forest bathing, which combines two concepts: a leisurely walk in the woods while breathing the aromatic scent of trees and nature. In fact, they are so fond of the activity that for more than four decades forest bathing has been hailed as a nationally recognized stress buster and relaxation activity in the country. Forest bathing is very much like hiking-- a long meditative walk in the woods. And of course, breathing in delicious scents of plants and nature is natural aromatherapy. Both activities have proven therapeutic effects in humans. Maybe doctors can start prescribing forest baths as part of any healing prescription in the U.S.

The science is there to prove the healthful benefits of being around nature, especially around plants and trees, oceans or rivers too! Studies have found that a long quiet walk in the woods lowers stress (cortisol) and blood pressure levels. Also the clean air and essential wood oils or phytoncides, the airborne chemicals that plant and trees emit to prevent rotting and protect themselves from insects, has found in studies to boost immunity.

Without really knowing the science behind the activity, I went on a languorous trek last week in one of the ten most beautiful hiking paths in the Northeast, Cold Spring, NY, with another adventurous forest goddess. It was magical, majestic and mystical. Seconds after stepping on the warm gravely path that led us up and around and eventually to a striking view of the majestic Hudson River I felt grounded. If you haven't read my piece on earthing, check it out.  It was my first barefoot hike. And it won't be my last.

One of the side effects of hiking barefooted was a closer connection to my inner world. You know when the sages say that the universe resides inside each of us -- I experienced it! Deeply. I was even more present and mindful of what I was seeing, feeling, smelling and hearing. Each step I took was a glorious moment. Seriously. Going barefooted forced me to employ all the senses. And sensing all the terrains under my feet and around me was new and glorious  -- pebbles and rocks, moist earth, damp moss, dry and wet leaves, branches, grass, pieces of wood, wet muddy soil, dry earth, and sand. Simply delicious. The walk opened me up and awakened everything inside. I experienced a deeper sense of connection to nature and me.  Weirdly, the closer connection I have to me and to nature, the closerit seems I get to the world outside me.

To enjoy a forest bath you don't need to go bare footed, which I agree, is a bit hard core for beginners, like me. But if you can handle part of your walk in the woods bare feet, I highly encourage to give it a try.

This weekend you are looking to get grounded, or want to feel replenished and rejuvenated, you might want to put a forest bath in your to do. Here are some pics of my recent forest bath.

In Defense of Sweat: 10 things you should know about sweat

I have a friend who hates to sweat, another who doesn't sweat at all, (so she says and I believe her!) And another friend who doesn't exercise because she doesn't want to sweat and ruin her weekly Dominican blow dry.

However, whether you love, hate or are indifferent about sweating, the scientific fact is that sweating is an important bodily function that you should try to do everyday!

Sweating has been ritualized in every part of the world in ceremonies that purify and heal. Native American and other indigenous groups believe that sweating is sacred.  Sweat lodges are considered healing and spiritual refuges where people seek physical, spiritual healing and purification.
Whether you are working up a sweat in a sweat lodge, sauna, during Bikram Yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, power walking, or  zumba class, or lucky you, sexing, sweating is is not only good for you, your skin, your mind and your brain, but it will clue you into how healthy you are.

Pay attention to your relationship to how you sweat and you will discover things about your  health!

Since skin is our body's biggest organ the fact is that when we perspire, we are cleaning ourselves from the inside out.

So don't sweat it, ladies cause sweating is sweet for you. Here are 10 things you should know about sweat:

Renaissance doctors believed that the essence of each person originates as a star in the heavens. 
In Bali there is no separate word for artist because everyone is considered one. 
There is an artist within. 
Believe it.  

Time is always on your side, just loose the watch

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned in recent years was from designer Isabel Toledo. This extraordinary fashion talent taught me that in order for us to truly honor time, we must look it from a different perspective. For Isabel, who weaves time into every piece she creates, as every designer should but few do, time is not kept in the traditional sense, a clock or a numerical count. Rather, time is an accumulation of experiences. I suppose it's very much like the classic pieces that she designs.

Isabel argues that if you allow it, time is on your side. However, the trick is that you have to stop watching the clock. This idea seems counter intuitive, especially in industrialized countries where time is money and counting these numbers is a national sport. But once you try this little experiment, as I have and obviously, as Isabel and I am sure many folks steeped in non Western traditions, you will be rewarded by time itself. And Isabel says you'll get something extra, like love. 

I just adore Isabel's concept of time. In her new memoir, "Roots of Style," she eloquently writes that in order for us to bloom into our full potential, we have to allow for something she calls free-range time. It's a state of mind when you allow yourself to fall in love with yourself, your surroundings, interests and really, your world. 

It's a period when you actively cultivate self respect and self knowledge. For what purpose you ask? To invest in yourself, your growth so that whatever you touch is completely and honestly you. So that you can trust your gut, because it is well nourished.

Yes, it's common knowledge that structured time kills creativity. The mystery of creating anything--from a delectable dish to a fine piece of furniture and anything in between--takes careful attention, focus and love. And time.

Time, even time as we know it the Western world, is loaded with the potential to stand still. And at some point in your life I am sure you have felt that magic. It comes in moments when you are so involved in what you are doing, so exactly focused, that you loose a sense of time and when you look back at the clock the first words out your mouth are, "where did the time go!"  Oh, you've heard the saying, "time flies when you are having fun."

Some call this state of timelessness  the zone. And those of us who are lucky to experience, an athlete, a chef, a mom looking into her baby's eyes, a blogger, singer or musician -- find that this space or state is filled with pixie dust because it really feels other worldly.

Time dissolves when you redefine it and it's not longer a square or linear, but like Isabel says, round. A perfect circle.