Chapter 32

It’s kind of crazy turning 32. I distinctly remember feeling that this particular age was so far away so I basically felt like I blinked and here I am: grad school graduate, married 5 years, and baby boy that’s cuter than I could’ve ever asked….and turning 32. When I thought about my 30’s I always imagined, I’d have it all together. That there was this grand plan that plateaued at 30 and that was the epitome of being a grown up. Boy was I wrong! And I’m so glad I was wrong.

I am still growing, but I will say since I did enter my 30’s, I’ve learned the art of self-reflection. This is a difficult piece of maturity that can be chilling when we search within to find out who we really are and sometimes we come face to face with the fact that we need to change. I never thought I’d be in my 30’s and be a completely different person and in many ways I’m still that 22 year old girl who can get wild when the mood strikes. But those raw parts of me, the parts that never allowed vulnerability, seeing it as a weakness, yet self-criticism was a ritual for me, I not too long ago was faced with challenges that forced me to look at who I truly was and really just started asking myself, “Giana, is this who you want to be?” The answer was no for the most part, so I changed my habits, my thoughts and perspectives. I realized the power of choice and my GOD was that freeing. We all know we have the choice to do or be or say things we want, but have we really ever taken advantage of those choices and actually made them? So what choices have I made ushering me into the 32nd chapter.

  • I have made the choice of happiness. I am choosing to be happy, regardless of circumstance and situation.
  • I am choosing my husband-everyday. Because that’s what marriage is. The choice to love that person every damn day until you die. And I happily make that choice. (We’re renewing our vows soon btw! Stay tuned.)
  • I choose freedom in faith. My unwavering faith in God knowing He’s got me. No questions asked.
  • I choose to create time, instead of complaining that I don’t have it.
  • I choose to be present. Making eye contact when my son calls my name, leaving my phone in the other room while I play with him or put him to sleep.
  • I choose to pour myself into every facet of life where my passion leads.
  • I choose to share. I choose to share my experiences, lessons I’ve learned, the times I’ve fallen. Because mistakes are what make us great. And hiding those mistakes in shame does no one any good.
  • I choose to learn. I choose to accept that I don’t know everything and that every moment is an opportunity to grow.
  • I choose to be brave-standing firm in who I am, drawing boundaries, and demanding self-respect. From strangers, friends, and family. It’s important to see that there are limits to what we accept into our spaces.
  • I choose to see each road block as a redirection to something better instead of using my energy to move it.
  • I choose to see every person I meet and everyone in my life as a teacher with a lesson. Whether they see it that way or not. I choose to ask myself what I can learn from every encounter.
  • I choose to let my curls be crazy sometimes and not really care.I choose to see make up as an addition to beauty and show my son a woman’s natural beauty.
  • I choose to accept the responsibility of being a mother and understanding that sometimes it means putting myself, my well-being, and mental wellness first.
  • I choose to be my best everyday and I choose to understand that my best each day can look different.

That being said, hello 32!

XO,

GV

Meet Your Veggie Meat

A couple weeks I posted a question on IG stories-well a vote really asking what people thought was healthier-veggie meat or free-range organic meat. The results reflected that a majority believe free-range meat to be a healthier choice more so than the processed veggie meat, but there were quiet a number voting that it’s opposite lead the pack. But I’ll be honest, I was raised on meat, just chicken and turkey, and made a choice to go vegetarian at 25. There were a few periods of wings and tacos sprinkled in there, but for the most part I said adios to meat. Reasons ranged from health to mercy for animals.

Whatever the reason, choosing a meat substitute, many meat-free people believe they are choosing the healthier option much like I did when I went vegetarian, but even then those savory veggie meats some of us grew up with are processed and contain some pretty questionable materials. I took it upon my self to flip over the bags of some common veggie meat brands and noted what I found. Some surprisingly disappointing and some pleasantly surprised. So what to look for if you’re going meat free?

  • Textured Veggie Protein or Soy Isolates. Secret word? Hexane-a toxic byproduct of gasoline basically that is literally approved by the FDA to give veggie meat that meaty protein. Uh no thanks.
  • GMO Soy. If you aren’t aware by now of what Genetically Modified anything does to your body go read Shape Magazine’s article on possible risks with GMO.
  • Pretty much anything you can’t pronounce would be a good sign to avoid intake. I mean just a suggestion.

Guys, just take the time to flip over the package. Meat isn’t abysmal, yet what it does to your body whether free-range or not is DEFINITELY for another post entirely and that’s not to run down the ethical challenges with “organic” or “free-range” meat as highlighted here by PETA. Read up on the meat industry. Be educated on what goes in your body whether it’s meatless or not.

So anyway, what’s a good sub? My two favs are Beyond Meat  and Amy’s Organics. For more things to look out for on the veggie meat front, you can also check out Food Babe’s post for more keywords to look for in your next purchase. Hope this helps answer the questions from last week!

XO,

GV

One Reason the Royal Wedding Got Me Like…

One of the many reasons why my interest has been peaked surrounding the royal wedding is that I get to be alive when history was made. The royal wedding has taken the world by storm and a global interest has been invested. I usually have no particular curiosity in the love lives of others but this story has peaked my interest for many reasons. First of all, Meghan is beautiful and bi racial. BI RACIAL. Not black. Not white. But both. And she is the first bi racial princess for the UK. She made history for mixed women all around the world! She and Harry represent an archetype unequal to any other and a pivotal moment in what we can mark as a sign of significant change.

Tradition is a beautiful thing and I would consider myself a traditionalist. But tradition does not mean that our hearts and minds should be closed to change and growth and opportunity. Had the Queen denied this union, she wouldn’t have been apart of a historical moment and just when parts of the world are turning their backs on broken ideals, difference in culture or socioeconomic status for lack of understanding, she made a monumental decision to uphold tradition while welcoming change.

Was their road easy? Probably not. Will it get easier or will the negative talk of the way it “should’ve” been ever cease? No. But behind all the negative and above the noise, stronger people rise and the world still watches. Here’s to change in the horizon and a couple of cute mixed royal babies!

XO,

Gi

5 Musts in LA from a Local Girl

I mean nothing really beats LA in the states. In my opinion I guess. Because location is everything and weather, well that’s just icing on a vegan, gluten free cake. Minutes away from the beach and equally as close to the mountains with snow, you can’t really complain about much except for traffic. Although I will say traffic comes from overcrowding so there’s definitely too many people, but the diversity is what the migrators to this city are looking for. So we kinda need all these people for variety sake. But you guys, I grew up here and I STILL haven’t seen everything like shame on me!

Anyway, this weekend, we stayed in LA, right near Beverly Hills with some friends. In the 48 hours we were there, we saw ALOT, but we only did like 5 things. So if you’re local to LA and still haven’t been able to appreciate your city, I highly recommend the following:

  • LACMA-it’s huge and they’re always changing the exhibits which suffices for variety so this can be a regular thing and you won’t get bored. The space to walk can easily get some steps in for the day. Not to mention there are definitely some spots for the aspiring photographer or fancy Instagram-er because let’s be honest, we love aesthetic and who doesn’t want to learn to appreciate art?
  • La Brea Tar Pits- totally underrated! We can’t get enough of LA history and this has more than I really ever paid attention to. Lots of space for the kids to get their wiggles out and it’s free to wander unless you want to visit an exhibit. Definitely on the list.
  • Cofax- ok food. Who’s not eating in LA? Cofax is named after Koufax, former Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher. They have the most phenomenal breakfast burritos I’ve ever had in my life and I’ve had my fair share. And they have donuts. Burritos and donuts. Just die.
  • Rodeo- it’s still worth the trip. Whether you’re window shopping or splurging, just go.
  • Hollywood sign-get your Nike’s on and leave on your yoga pants (we all know you’re already wearing them because so am I) and head up the hill because the hike is stunning. Even the drive is gorgeous, but if you live here and you haven’t hiked to the Hollywood sign, it’s a must. And while you’re there, the Griffith Observatory is literally on the way. Do yourself the favor and allow yourself to be in awe for a min. Because when was the last time you’ve been amazed?

I had to share this mostly because you tend to forget what’s in your own backyard when you’re looking in someone else’s. So while you’re planning your next vacation and you live in LA, try a staycation and fall in love with your home.

XO,

GV

Bucket Lists

In the last year, I haven’t seen so many bucket list creations in my life. I carefully read through people’s lists and see that they’re all beautifully colored with hope and promise striving for the adventures and goals so many of us dream of. It occurred to me that I have never made one myself. I couldn’t figure out why until I started to realize that there is a possibility that a number of those on my list would not be fulfilled. Could I bare the disappointment in myself or my lack of motivation to see them all through? Well, there’s a reason it’s 28 degrees out and I can’t go anywhere so here I am with a blank screen just waiting to be filled with my little hearts desires, but I want to look at them as goals for the moment. For now, I think I’ll start with a bucket/goal list for the year. This way, they are somewhat attainable and I won’t be distraught if and when I don’t make it Thailand for elephant riding.

1. Get a job at a non-profit working with women and children.

2. Get an apt in the city.

3. Lose 8 lbs of fat and gain 7 lbs of muscle.

4. Hold a position on the Bored of Directors with the charity I volunteer for.

5. Travel to St. Michaels, MD.

6. Travel to Boston, MA

7. Hit NYC

Since 7 is the number of completion, I’ll stop here. Even making this short list, I had to get a hold of my imagination in order to not get carried away with the amount of adventures and goals I had planned for myself. Perhaps we all should just take the bite that we can chew. After all, setting your standards extremely high can be a straight shot into self-doubt which can be a right turn into fear. Seek the attainable-no one is born running.

GNV