Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tequila Shots, Dancing shoes, and no more broken hearts!

Everyone has experience at least 1 major heartbreak by the age of 25, right? I know I had and I actually did not cry.

Not everyone can keep the pain nor swallow the tears but with a few tequila shots, a few dancing nights; we simply learn to dance of the pain of our major heartbreak.

See, I was in a relationship for 4 years. I thought he was the one but after a few major red flags into the 2 year mark, I began to have doubts. I continued our relationship even thought I did not trust him nor he respected me the way he spoke to me but I was afraid to start all over so I settled. I know, that was stupid, but when you are in love you do stupid things!

I was with this person in my mid twenties but I dont regret, if anything I learned. Never give your all to someone unless its YOURSELF!

I am now enjoying life without worrying if someone will get mad for what I said or better yet not have to beg for someones attention or affection.

Life is beautiful when you no longer have to worry about what other people think of you nor worry if they even care. I learned to  care enought about myself to be focused on what I am doing, love myself for what I am worth, and not allow any guy who I sense a red flag come near my heart again.

Just like my father said the other day, "Don't get married or have children till you are over 35." That is not the ordinary advice a father will say but he is right. I am going places with my career and most of the guys who once came upon my path are going home.

Lucky I live in San Francisco, the city of love. I dont intend to fall in love with anyone but I do intend to have plenty of tequila shots, endless dancing hours at a bar with my girls and have devoted myself not to get another broken heart.

 I do not feel the need to be in a relatinoship nor have a title to feel complete because I am complete by myself and I am surrounded by wonderful friends who have become family in the years I have been in San Francisco.

I might of given 4 of the best years of my twenties but the best is yet to come and Life goes on and so does my journey!

Just another night at Make Out Room with my girls.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Irony of getting Stoned!

By Gardenia Zuniga-Haro

Have you ever been attacked for your religious beliefs?
Do you constantly have to defend your moral as a person or be on guard of any possible attack?

I, unfortunately, have been under attack lately for who I am what-what I believe in!

I knew that becoming a Muslim woman will be a topic of discussion within my family and possibly persecuted by those who think "My life is in DANGER", however it's not. People think Muslim women get stoned however when people constantly question me; they are the ones who are, "STONING ME!"

You were probably thinking this article will be of another method of getting stoned right?
Sorry to disappoint you but I am going into a different method of getting stoned.

Ignorance is one stone!
Judgment is another one!
Islamophobia is a HEAVIER stone!

The list can continue but these are the ones I have been getting stoned by recently without giving anyone a reason to other than who I believe it and what I stand for.

I had been asked if I am a member of "ISIS" by a few family members yet I don't post any harm to anyone including them.
Why ask? What gives? I don't judge you on your weekend hungover Snapchats when you are supposed to be at Sunday mass...right?!

See I grew up in religion based on my family. My grandparents raised me in Mexico where I was baptized under the Catholic church before I could crawl. I grew up attending Sunday mass and witnessing a religious volunteer reenacting Jesus Crucifixion on Easter Sunday! I still can't get the image out of my head when the poor guy literally got crucified in front of everyone and bleed till sundown.

What for? Didn't Jesus died for our sins a long time ago so why do it again?

 I never understood why they did that or why did they make me drink "Holy" water every time I said something inappropriate. I was a child, how should I know. I never understood why women had to be a "virgin" until marriage when most of my cousins had gone around the corner before walking down the isle.

As I got older and migrated back to California with my mother I was introduced to the Apostolic religions. A.K.A. Christianity.

I was a bit confused why both Catholics and Christians claimed to be the true religion or faith. I thought Jesus Christ was from the middle east. Well, that what I learned during Sunday school.

I grew up wanting to be "FREE" but couldn't because every time I spoke, if it wasn't "Christian" like; I got punished. I got kicked out of the "praise team", what I called choir. I got chewed up by the pastor's wife with vulgar comments because she thought I was going to be a "whore" just because I got along with the boys. Oh, the judgment! If she knew that I actually saved myself till I was an adult and that I am almost 27 years old and still not a "whore".

I have read the Bible, actually, I still have my first Bible in my room. Even though I am Muslim, I treasure it. See, I might not approve in all of Christianities rules but that doesn't make me hate them nor judge them. Who am I to do such thing?

I tried to avoid Sundays because the moment I had expressed my mother I wanted to convert to Islam, the stoning began. I am not going to bad mouth her but it was hell. Every Sunday the pastor or ministers will try to force me to speak in tounges and press their hand hard onto my forehead like if they had healing powers to get my Islam desire out of my head. That was wrong but I was a minor and had to "obey".

As I developed into a teenager, I began to read the Quran in secret from my mother. I practiced prayer and when I got caught,  I was forced to get baptized in the name of "Jesus Christ" by the pastor of our church. I wasn't ready nor did I want to get baptize.
My father came to my baptism since my mother made him but I will never forget him saying to me after I had been submerged in the waters, "You were always Muslim."

I grew up counting the days to become an adult but at 17, I moved out into my own world. A few struggles here and there but I never lost faith in any way. Once I was educated enough on Islam I made the decision to convert. No one hit me to become Muslim nor submerged me into waters and made me cry in a language no one understands. It was perfect and an intimate conversion in which my father was present.

Flash forward a few years later and I am stronger in my faith. I had quite a few stones coming from family members who think they are "right" when it comes to their judgment of my faith. I had a few friends who made fun of me for fasting during Ramadan and I had a few heartbreaks from men who I thought will understand me but I was wrong.

Islam is about peace and when my life was chaotic with sickness, heartbreak, and survival; I found peace.

I understand why people can be Islamophobic, there is so much crap on TV and on the web in which Muslims are always the bad guys. You know, I saw bad guys who were of "higher" power in the Catholic and Christian church and did not make me judge them.

Every tree has a bad apple, right? So then why judge the entire harvest and burn the new apples that are developing in the branches of the tree.

Just because we had ignorance over flowing in the air doesn't mean we have to absorb it and use the "Islamophobia" repellent. We should unite like the Quran indicates and practice peace within each other.

  I no longer want to get stoned but I want to be respected as a Muslim woman!

Oh the Irony!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Exploring Down South

By Gardenia Zuniga-Haro

Have you ever wondered what it is like to explore Peru? 

The famous land of the "polladas" (dance parties), endless  seafood ceviche, and non stop "piropos" (compliments) that make you blush.  I got to live all of  the above  for 3 days and it was quite the experience.

First of all, Lima is beautiful.  Just driving up the coastline was breathtaking with the ocean view and the green landscapes of the city line. I stayed in Miraflores district, which is the Beverly hills of Lima.  The locals were nice but the men where even nicer, if you know what I meant with "piropos".

I was blessed to travel to Peru by Grabr who sent me on another wonderful trip. I had 40 people to deliver their gifts who all greeted me with a smile and most of the men with multiple kisses on both cheeks. Everyone received their Grabs by the second day and some of them  even recommended me to hit a few spots in town which I did. Thanks to Grabr I made new friends and I can't wait to go back and deliver more of their Grabs in a few months.

After giving most of my shoppers their Grabs I decided to take a stroll around the district I was residing, Miraflores. Walking the streets of Lima was exciting. Just seeing how fast the city runs with people chasing the bus,  older women gossiping on the bench, and catching a few couples making out on the grass of the central park not caring who saw them in action.

I gotta say, Lima was very opened about their romance. I saw older couples holding hands while kissing each other at the bus stop yet I saw a few younger couples making out against the wall outside the bars before sun rise. I guess I can say I saw people doing "EVERYTHING", without giving too many details.

For my first day in Lima I explored the Miraflores district. I enjoyed ceviche with a Pisco cocktail and the few rays of sun I captured while I walked down the area. I did hear a few "Hola Princesa" piropos  as I crossed the streets and did a little bit of shopping therapy.

Night time came and I decided to check out the night scene. Yes, I went clubbing all by MYSELF!

I strolled down the street with all the bars and decided to check out Son De Cuba Salsoteca. Like they say in Peru, "Me fui de pollada" (I went partying).  I had a few mojitos, ... well  I lost track after 5. Since I was sitting at the bar like a typical tourist observing everyone, I was quite surprised to get  asked to dance by 3 older men a few times. After my third drink, I decided to hit the dance floor to some merengue music. I was wearing a long maxi dress,  hair in a bun with a few loose curls,  and still got hit on by the locals.

The night ended after bar hopping till 4 am and I made it to my hotel room safe and sound.

I woke up to the sun rays caressing my face and realized I needed coffee, and I need more than one cup.  I had breakfast with the astonishing view of the 21st floor over seeing the city and ocean. As I ate my delicious desayuno, I caught myself being fully focused reading the local newspaper and realized, Peru does not like Trump at all. I don't want to ruin this story by getting political but lets just say, Trump is not welcomed in Peru.

I got sun kissed by the Peruvian sun for a few hours by the pool before I decided to hit the Barranco district which a shopper from Grabr had recommended for me to visit. 

I wanted to be more adventurous so I hopped on the bus that said Barranco, hoping I wont get lost.They bus ride was hot and quick. Everyone was sweating but hey its Peru, and it was 100 degrees which felt more like 80 to me since I am not used to the heat anymore. I enjoyed the heat.

I arrived Barranco which is the historic district were the old monuments, vintage restaurants, and murals of revolution lived across the neighborhood. I noticed that Starbucks is a luxury and people enjoy taking naps on the park benches.

It was lunch time and I decided to try the famous Lomo Saltado. The food was amazing but the server was a different story. If you think men in America are annoying when they hit on you, wait till you experience men in Peru. They are aggressive and persistent. My bill came and "Amigo" left his number on my receipt. I ignored because I wasnt there to go on a date, I was there to relax yet during my lunch he kept talking about us hitting the beach together and going dancing that night. No Gracias!

I left the restaurant looking for my next adventure when I hear "Amigo" behind me telling me to take his number as he hands me the receipt with his digits. I kindly rejected his offer and continued to walk down the alley that led to the beach.

I heard from the locals that the private beaches are the best but when I walked down the alley and saw the multitude of people laughing and playing in the public beach; I was amazed. I couldn't believe how many people where in the beach, better yet how happy everyone sounded under the summer heat. Been there made me appreciate the simple things such as children laughing for being splashed by their friends or the DJ who danced with his beer bottle while  the locals joined him to some cumbia music.

As I took a dip of the warm Peruvian ocean, I realized how happy people where with the less they had. I saw children playing with sticks on the sand and adults relaxing while eating their fruit cocktails. No body had their phones out nor ignored each other over a phone call. EVERYONE was engaging within their surroundings which is something I haven't seen back home. Everyone is trying to post the latest Snapchat (I am guilty of that), or strike the hottest selfie without enjoying the simple things in life. 

Exploring down south made me appreciate not having to depend on technology to be entertained nor having to spend too much money to have a relaxing day. I enjoyed eating an ice cream cone that was less than a $1 and walking down the streets of Lima for hours.

 After meeting people who came to Peru as refuge's from other countries such as Venezuela looking for a better life I realize that I need to appreciate the life I have in America more than I do. I returned to America more humbled and even though I do not agree with our government, I am thankful that I still have my freedom and no one takes the food out of my plate or tells me how to dress. I appreciate the simple things in life more and I cant wait to come back and learn more of the people who live in Peru. Exploring down south made me more appreciative of my life in America and I am thankful for that opportunity Grabr gave me.
Public Beach in Lima, Peru.

Native girls taking a picture at Kennedy Park.

Lima's coastline in Miraflores district.

Catching some Peruvian sun rays.

Locals relaxing at Kennedy Park in Miraflores.

Peruvian dancer performing in Barranco's Puente de los Suspiros.

A Peruvian Native selling bread in Barranco.

Enjoying Lomo Saltado with Grabr.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Risk Taker

Holiday season is the time where family gathers to eat several plates of turkey or in my family tamales and catch up on their latest achievements or better yet, catch up on the latest chisme,... Right? If you are smiling then you know its true!

For the past 2 years I haven not had an ordinary holiday celebration with my family.  Last year I  thought it was risky to drive to Mexicali, Mexico  from San Francisco to spend the holiday with my grandmother but this year I went over seas all by myself.

I went to Thailand. The land of $2 Pad Thai, fast Tuk Tuk (taxi) rides, and endless exotic temples to admire.

 I was blessed enough to be refereed by a former classmate to a new company named Grabr. My friend Angela  told me how she felt I was perfect for this company. Within 24 hours, I emailed Grabr's Travel Squad manager and not even 2 weeks  since my first interview and I was asked if I could go to Thailand.....ABSOLUTELY!

At first I was hesitant since I have never been alone over seas, specially during the holidays but I made a few arrangements and I took off to Bangkok on Thanksgiving day.

The wait at the airport was  killing me with excitement. I did not even think what would I do once I arrive to Thailand other than I was going there and for free. Yes, I traveled for Free. Thanks Grabr.

The flight was long, almost 19 hours travel time but I took advantage and slept on the flight because I knew that I was not going to get rest once I arrived.

I arrived at 2 am Bangkok's time and I was beyond excited to be there although a bit sticky in my yoga pants due to the humidity.

My cab ride was interesting. The driver was on the opposite side of American cars. As we arrive my hotel I noticed that Bangkok was like the Vegas strip. People walking all night, hookers trying to make their money fast, and city lights that amused my eyes by their colorful designs.

Grabr did an amazing job on making sure I was at a nice resort in which I felt safe even though I could see the lights from the Red Light district down the street. The excitement took over that I didn't care what time it was. I changed to explore the city at its prime time, 3 AM.

I saw the infamous "Lady Boys" trying to get their prey for the night while I ate my fresh pad Thai on the hood of a car across the street. I roamed around the city streets till the sun rise and went back to my room around 6 am to rest for 3 hours before meeting my Grabr shoppers who were excited to received their items.

I was able to meet most of my Grabr's on my first day. Every single person was different. Some where from India, China, and  a few from America who lived in Thailand. They all  had a huge smile when they received their items. Some even hugged me and one of them gave me a ride on his scooter to a temple I wanted to go to. Sadly I wasnt able to go inside the temple since it was closed due to Thailand's kings recent death.

I could see Grabr made a difference in each person including myself. I learned that many people make sacrifices to be where success takes them in life and with Grabr, its easier for them to have a small piece of home from us. Many of them shared how much it meant for them to receive their items and how valuable Grabr is to them.

Even though it was my first trip with Grabr, I could tell I was going to bring happiness to each person one trip at a time.

My two days we short but adventurous. I walked miles through the city, got lost on a alley but found the light when I saw the mango lady who I bought a peeled mango for less than a $1.

I explored all day and night. Walked around town, meet with locals and even took a big risk by going to a club by myself. It was probably not the best idea but I am a risk taker and I kept an eye on my drinks. The DJ played music that came out when I was in middle school (I felt old in there) the drinks weren't strong which was good since I had 4 Long Islands and I was pretty sober.

I continued my second day with 2 hours of sleep. I relaxed at the pool while I meet up with the last few Grabbers who needed to get their items. Each one of them was thrilled and some even invited me to go have dinner at their venues or try cross fit at their gym next time I am in town. Lets say I made great connections with my Bangkok express trip.

My trip was short, adventurous, and tasty. I will never forget taking the wrong turn down the alley with all the brothels while I was looking for food. Walking in the humid rainfall and seeing a elephant walk down the boulevard filled with traffic. It was something I will always cherish in my memories.

I took a risk by going alone but with Grabr, it was possible to explore a new horizon which I truly enjoyed;  Especially by myself.

              This was my first trip with Grabr and I know I have many more to come in which,
                                              "I will leave a smile  one Grab at a time."

My first day of exploring Bangkok with a TukTuk ride.

For more information on Grabr visit

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Broken Flowers

We are the flowers that do not need too much sunlight to shine, water to grow, or oxygen to breathe. We are the flowers that have Hope and Love to flourish our petals into the sky and survive this broken pots' where our roots are meant to grow.

We grow with Hope to be successful even if we have to move to a new garden where the battle for a solid ground starts, the struggle to survive continues, and the nourishments of our life span can be harsh.

We believe that loving our broken petals will help us survive the gray gloomy days. Stay attached to our hearts will help us develop new colors within the season, and loving every obstacle mother nature has for us in favor to survive.

 We are the broken flowers that no one believe will grow into the gorgeous garden we live inn today. We struggled our way into a new garden when we left the broken pots' we had been chosen to grow. We did not fear the challenge but stayed optimistic with every set of sunshine and drop of water to survive this journey.

We are the broken flowers who came from dying gardens who couldn't find any resource to grow but we stayed optimistic and now have conquered a new territory. Some of us were able to find a solid ground were we let our seeds develop into new flowers and others have grown to claim our new garden and grow into their own.

To my flowers, my dearest friends who have taken the risk to change a new foundation to expand our roots and fight for what we want in life. To you, I dedicated this poem. Let your petals reach the sky and your fragrance always remind you of who you truly Are!

My Dearest Flowers
Mercy L. Celentano
Jessica Hinojosa
Johnny P. Vera
Elias Reez
Maria M. Ballesteros
Marisol Lua
Elizabeth Martinez

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A New Journey

Life is about taking chances. We tend to take on new journeys as we follow our intuition, heart, or our own desire. Well that has been my story. I made the decision a few months ago to move to San Francisco in search of my career and happiness.

 This journey has made me a stronger woman. I lost a few close friends who weren't supportive on my decision to walk down this journey but in the midst of my loneliness I found new friends. Just like they say, "New city, new friends if your looking for me." Well I still have a wonderful handful of loyal, supportive, and honest friends back home who I keep in touch on a weekly basis. I have my supportive family who now appreciates me more. I guess distance makes others appreciate one another. I have gotten closer with my mother who we always had a rocky journey together.

 I tend to be the Wildflower of the family. The one that grows in the darkness, better yet takes her roots to a new pot while discovering her true colors of her blossoming petals.

Walking alone on this new journey has made me more mature than the young lady I was 4 months ago. I do have family who is supportive but they are within hours away. The one who I though I will see every weekend is always working. My old man. My father. The ladies man who always told me to stay classy and to chase my dreams and not a man. I know better. Even though I actually have seen my father 3 times in the past few months, I know he still cares for me and constantly calls me to see how the Big City is treating me.

This new journey has been a huge eye opening experience for me. Not only have a grown as a woman but also learned more regarding my career. I enrolled at Academy of Arts University as a Motion Picture and Television student with the vision to graduate as a director. Through the semester I fell in love with editing. I know, how nerdy for me. Well I have done directing jobs and after meeting a few professional's I realized that to be a director you do not need to attend film school. I have done a job as a director for a few things and I can always go back and do them but editing....that's my specialty. I am learning how to work with Avid which is one of the hardest but best programs out in the media field. I guess that's part of being a Wildflower, we tend to let our petals grow and they always end up in the opposite direction from what was expected.

I am not a big fan of LA, if anything, I do not like it. Its not because I received a few traffic citations down on Rodeo Drive, but because most of the people there act like they are something. Everything is about SEX, DRUGS, & Being an A List celebrity. That's not me. I am just a Wildflower and I never have enough carbon dioxide in LA.  As an editor, I can live in any part of the world and edit for any production company. I intend on moving over seas one day, and I know I can utilize my editing degree.

Living on my own is nothing new to me. I did it when I lived in Santa Barbara, CA my freshman year of college. It was thought but I survived. Now that I am alone and independent in a much bigger city like San Francisco, I feel confident I can survive any obstacle. Sleepless nights have become my best friend, muni rides  have become my joy ride, and Pier 39 chocolates have become my comfort when times feel rough. I had gotten lonely and missed the voice of a few lost friends, but then I look out the window and se the beautiful blue sea. It reminds me of my purpose, the reason why I, the  Wildflower keep blooming here. My new journey has only began, but I cant wait to continue blossoming until I graduate and move into a new pot of love, hope, and prosperity as my petals continue to grow.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vanished By Your Thoughts

Why do we doubt a possibility?
Why do we ignore a connection?
What if it could be a beautiful lie, yet we are afraid of giving it a chance?

Life is about taking chances, so why won’t you take my hand?
I opened my heart, although I knew it wasn’t time.
You couldn’t hold my hand, while I crossed the boulevard of hope.
You got lost in your unstable thoughts of who you could be without me.

I crossed the street and left your hand slowly slip off my heart.
It was your unstable thoughts that made me vanish in the clear blue sky.
The ones that made my smile disappear from your hardest times.
You tried to forget my memory, yet every time the wind touched your lips; you remember the first time we kissed.

I became vanished by your thoughts.
The ones that didn’t allow me to come back.
The bitter ones that only let you live a lie, although you somehow fantasized about the times we had.
We live lie when we reject someone we want.
We regret not letting them into our hearts, yet we push them away.
Although I know I left a spark in your mysterious eyes,
 I vanished from your doubtful thoughts.