Snapshot Challenge Saturday

If we truly wish to make the most out of our short lived time, we must follow through with the burning passion we find within ourselves. To do otherwise is to deprive ourselves of enjoyment, fulfillment, and excitement.

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Running For A Cause: Miami Half Marathon

Yesterday, my brother, sister, and I participated in the Miami Half Marathon for the second year in a row. We wanted to run in an attempt to raise money and awareness for Misioneros Del Camino—a cause that is very important to us all. After months of training, the big day had finally arrived! And go figure, it just so happened to be the coldest day of the year here in South Florida (which we were very thankful for).

We woke up at 4:00 in the morning to get some last minute carbs and protein in for breakfast, and made our way over to the American Airlines Arena, where the race was set to begin at 6:00am. When we arrived, we walked over to our assigned corral, and were in the company of 25,000 runners from over 80 countries!

Running throughout South Beach, Downtown Miami, and Brickell was invigorating, and the sights were incredible! What I enjoyed most about the event was the amount of individuals on the sidelines and all throughout the streets who cheered us on. Complete strangers spent their entire morning motivating us to keep on running. It was absolutely beautiful, and it made the event even more memorable. And running alongside thousands of individuals from all over the world, and working together to reach a common goal by pushing one another forward was incredible. After 12 full weeks of training and 173.06 miles completed, we crossed the finish line and were finally ready to rest!

This experience was definitely one to remember, and seeing how many loved ones came together to help support our cause has left me speechless. We were able to raise over $2,700 these past few weeks, which will help provide four children special education and daily therapies for an entire year—all for free at Misioneros Del Camino! Thanks to everyone’s help, we have been able to positively affect the lives of numerous children, and we will be able to help give them hope for a brighter future; one which they deserve! I could not be any more grateful or appreciative, and for that, I thank you all.

May This Be The Year

May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to grow
     Mentally,
          Spiritually,
               Emotionally.
May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to learn
     As much as we possibly can.
May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to love
     And be loved.
May this be the year in which we learn to forgive
     Others,
          And ourselves.
May this be the year in which we seek new adventures
     By putting ourselves out there more often.
May this be the year in which we follow our dreams
     And reach for the stars.
May this be the year in which we learn to surpass rejection
     And continue on our path to greatness.
May this be the year in which we share special moments with loved ones
     And cherish such memories for years to come.
May this be the year in which we learn to persist
     Bravely,
          Valiantly,
               And courageously.
May this be the year in which we learn to share our voices and listen to those who have yet to be heard
     By advocating,
          Caring,
               And helping our fellow human beings.
May this be the year in which we devote ourselves to a worthwhile cause
     And help those in need.
May this be the year in which we never forget to be thankful and appreciative
     Each and every day.
May this be the year in which we shine, and encourage others to do the same
     Brighter than ever before.

Happy New Year, and may it be blessed!

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End of the Year Appreciation

With today being December 31st, it is no secret that people nationwide are making last minute attempts at creating New Years Resolutions and fine-tuning their goals for the upcoming year. What I find interesting (even though I’m guilty of it as well) is that so many of us wait until January 1st to begin to follow through with ways we believe will better us. If our resolutions don’t work, or if we simply cannot stick to the plan we set out for ourselves, well, there’s always next January 1st for us to try again.

If we could move past the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, we could work on continuously trying to better ourselves. Moreover, we’ll have an entire year to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, rather than just waiting for a “re-do” twelve months from now. What is important for us to remember during these upcoming weeks of “resolutioning” (a new verb that’s quite fitting for this time of year) is that one minor setback is not a failure; we must not allow ourselves to get discouraged if things do not go according to plan. There is always tomorrow to wake up refreshed and begin from where we last left off. If we can view New Year’s Resolutions as the Year’s Resolutions, maybe we won’t be so harsh on ourselves. And maybe we’ll realize that our goals can be fought for at any given moment of any given day—not just for the first few days in January.

With that being said, one goal that I set for myself this past year was to continue blogging, since I had taken an extended break before the year began. Just this year alone, individuals from all around the world stopped by my site to read what I had to say. To me, there would be nothing more rewarding than knowing that one person (not including my mother) occasionally glances through my site. However, to find out that more than 2,000 visitors from sixty-nine different countries read my thoughts, experiences, and stories throughout the year is beyond overwhelming.

Just this year alone, my blog has had more visitors than the last three years combined. To my fellow bloggers, readers, and friends from 2015, I extend my sincerest appreciation and gratitude for your support. (In the tag section of this post, I’ve included the country of each visitor throughout this past year as a special way of saying thank you since it’s much easier than hand-written notes).

May 2016 be a year to remember, and may all of our resolutions come to fruition, regardless of any potential setbacks we may experience along the way. Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you, once again.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas is a beautiful holiday celebrated by a countless number of individuals across the globe. Of course it is a significant holiday due to religious purposes, but what makes this day even more special is that it is one of the few times during the year where families come together to celebrate with one another. Not only this, but the holiday spirit brings people even closer together, and there is an overall joyous feeling that engulfs us all—regardless of our religious affiliations.

However, once the New Year rolls in and we quickly return to our routines, the festivity disappears, as does much of the joy we shared with one another just a few weeks/months prior. As the holidays pass, we pick up from where we last left off by consuming ourselves in political correctness and a continuous argument regarding which religion is superior and why the beliefs of others don’t matter. Before you know it, the closeness and connectedness that brought us all together is long gone—at least until the following December.

If we each took the time to realize that when you put aside our exteriors including our physical features, skin tones, and other such minute differences, we are all the same. Much of our beliefs and values are so similar, but for some reason we cannot take the time to listen to those around us and try to understand that there are a great deal of resemblances in our beliefs. If only we could live in a  world where “holiday cheer” was simply called “cheer,” and we allowed the joyous breeze that is seemingly only found during the holidays to run through the air all year long. Then the constant bickering, discrimination, and hatred that we see all over the news would lessen significantly, and maybe, just maybe, we could have a much easier time living in harmony.

As I posted a short while ago, Mother Teresa once said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” If we could each make it a goal to try and spread some of the “Holiday Cheer” throughout the following year, we might be able to help make this difference which would ultimately allow us to live in a better world.

While spending this beautiful holiday with loved ones, let us enjoy the special time we are sharing with each other. Let us also think about how to make improvements to the upcoming year we have ahead of us, so that we can continue to have as many memorable moments as possible. With that being said, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may this year be filled with an abundance of joy, cheer, and love for one another!

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Have a Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!

After a day’s worth of cooking, baking, and eating, it’s finally time to sit down and write! It’s nothing we don’t already know—Thanksgiving is a time to share with loved ones and really think about what we are grateful for in our lives. Whether it’s knowing that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, health, safety, security, a bit of financial stability, loved ones who care about us, the ability to receive an education, or even freedom in the very country we live in, there is so much that we can all find to be thankful for.

Throughout these last few days, weeks, months, and years, I have become increasingly thankful for simple treasures, and these treasures are all of you. Knowing that there are people reading what you put out there is a true honor and privilege, and I could not be any more grateful for fellow bloggers and readers who continuously support both me and my writing, day in and day out. However you decide to spend your Thanksgiving, I hope it is a wonderful one surrounded by those you love and filled with countless blessings.

We shouldn’t limit our thankfulness or gratitude to one holiday each year, so here’s hoping we can each learn to be more thankful and appreciative in the upcoming year. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and know that we made it! The cooking is past us, the cleaning is over, and now it’s just us and leftovers. Talk about being appreciative!

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South Beach Food and Wine Festival

Two weeks ago, my mom took my brother, sister, and me to the South Beach Food and Wine Festival and it was an incredible experience, to say the least. There were countless restaurants from all across South Florida passing out food and everywhere you turned, there were different bars passing out all kinds of alcoholic beverages. The assortment of food and drinks was so diverse that we had to take a short break after every few restaurants, just so that we could continue sampling everything there was to offer. We also encountered various celebrity chefs from Food Network that were in attendance at the event. Every hour of so, a different chef would give a cooking demonstration, so just in the short time we were there, we saw Giada De Laurentiis, Rachel Ray, Aaron Sanchez, Guy Fieri, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Carla Hall. As you can see pictured below, we tried enough food to last us until next year’s festival! It was definitely an event to remember!