Jan 20th, 2017

Today I did everything I normally do. I went to turn in some paperwork for a future* job. I watched a documentary on Netflix. I ate food. I drank water. I scrolled through all my social media. But, today felt…different. Honestly, more than it ever has since I can remember. Adding the raindrops to my internal stress and I don’t know what to say or do.  I’m supposed to write  about Health+Fitness on Fridays but how could I talk about my favorite quinoa recipe when I feel this sense of…despair. Sadness. But at the same time, I feel apathetic and desensitized. I’m not sure how to snap out of it. I ordered some books because I believe in the power of a strong mind. However, I’m going to need more than a strong mind to get through the next…well you know the rest. Definitely going to be a lot of introspection, planning, and execution this year and the next. But first, self-care. 

Things Mara Loves: Shameless

I was on twitter one day minding my business when one of my sorority sisters asked me if I watched Shameless. At the time I was trying to study for the LSAT in December so I had been purposely avoiding Netflix because once I find a show I like I can’t have peace until I watch every episode of every season. I decided to watch it and I was hooked. I could not stop watching it and shortly finished the first four seasons within a couple of weeks. I was an unapologetic member the Shameless fan club!

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Shameless is a show about the Gallagher family and their crazy ass lives in Chicago, Illinois. Frank Gallagher, the father of the bunch is an alcoholic drug abuser who comes and goes as his pleases leaving his daughter Fiona to take care of her 5 younger siblings. Fiona doesn’t do it alone. She also has the help of her neighbors, her best friend V and V’s boyfriend Kevin. They help Fiona out when they can. The show takes us through Frank’s never ending antics that fuck up his children’s lives due to his own drug and alcohol problems and his problems with their mother Monica, Fiona’s love life (one that makes me feel particularly relieved for my own) and struggles of raising her siblings, Lip and his struggles being an douche-bag genius with self-destructive tendencies, Ian and his struggles with his sexuality, Debbie and her desperate need for feelings of love and acceptance, Carl and his bad ass (seriously this little guy will burn up all your shit) and his growth, and Liam with his average of 2 lines a season (luckily in the final season they give the little guy some more to say, and Veronica and Kevin’s life as a couple.

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The reason I love this show is because it is sooooo different from any show I’ve ever watched and from most of the shows I usually obsessed over like Gossip Girl and shows of that nature. Shameless is refreshingly real life look at living in what others consider to be a “bad neighborhood” and poverty and all the things that come with that. Even in its sometimes emotionally heavy story lines it often offers comedic relief to its viewers through the characters and their personalities and how they cope. If you pay close attention to the show you notice it touches on issues in society such as mental illnesses, drug and alcohol abuse, homosexuality, toxic masculinity, gentrification, the prison/parole system, LGBTQ issues, polyamory and so much more all while being the one of the most non-glamorous straight-in-your-face shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. I loved it so much after I finished all the seasons on Netflix I downloaded a free trial of the Showtime app and binged watched season 7 which is not on Netflix yet because it just finished sometime in December or so.

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Do yourself a favor and watch Shameless if you’re looking for a new show to binge watch on Netflix. You won’t regret it!

What are you currently indulging in on Netflix? What are you top 3 shows you love to watch on Netflix? Gimme some suggestions in the comments! 

Learning to Go with the Flow and Accepting “No”: an Ongoing Series

One of the things I’ve been trying to learn and accept more after graduating last May is that everything is not always going to go according to plan. Truth be told, most things in life don’t go according to plan…at least at this age.We have to always been prepared to adjust & adapt. As someone who has always struggled with rejection and being told no (in the business/accomplishment sense), this post-grad life has been especially difficult. Just as I wrote how important it is to be able to tell people no last week, it is equally important to be able to handle hearing “no” with class and grace. 

Applying for jobs and not getting an e-mail or call back can take a hit on one’s self-esteem. However, I’m learning to see the beauty in hearing “no.” There are times whn “no” doesn’t mean never. Sometimes, you have to listen when the universe says “No, not right now.” In many instances this just means that something better is on the horizon. I’m learning this as time goes on. Being told no isn’t the worse thing that can happen because you may be getting told yes for something else, you just haven’t realized it yet. 

Keep pushing on and keep reaching for your dreams. Don’t let one no (or even ten or twenty) render you hopeless and sad. One quote I like to live by is “what’s for me will always be for me.” Whether it’s for me right now, 5 years from now, or whenever. That doesn’t mean it will come effortlessly but it will come when you’re ready to handle it properly. Always keep this in mind and never let your passions die. 

Health + Fitness Tips: The Things That Helped Me Create Good Habits

Some of the most common New Year’s Resolutions revolve around working out and losing weight. Making losing weight as one of your resolutions is stressful because many times if the right foundation for these changes isn’t established then it makes it difficult to lose weight and discourages people from reaching their goals. When it comes to having a healthier life and losing weight, there is no magic pill or one size fits all method. People’s bodies and genetics are different. There are, however, very basic things we can change about our lives that will usually help us get closer to our health and fitness goals than if we didn’t adapt them at all. Without lifestyle changes and consistency, we will be doomed to repeat our past mistakes and end up right back where we started.


Last year I lost almost 30 lbs before my graduation. I was so happy when I was shopping for dresses for my sorority formal and had discovered I went down a dress size. My confidence was high and it wasn’t just because I looked better but it was because I felt better. Since then, I have gained back a good chunk of the weight I lost. When I was in Ohio I noticed what had happened and was extremely saddened by my weight gain. “How could I let all of my hard word before graduation go to waste?” “What happened”, I asked myself. As I reflected on what I had done before graduation to lose weight I decided to make this post for me to refer back to whenever I fall of the wagon (which happens. Humans are not created without flaws). These are some of the things that personally helped me lose weight and feel good about myself and some of the things I was missing out on after I moved from San Diego.

Health + Fitness Journal: By keeping a Health + Fitness Journal, I was able to document my water intake, everything I was eating (clean food and junk food, no discrimination), my workouts or physical activities, and notes on that day. I think this helped me because I was able to notice patterns about my eating habits and make adjustments for the next day or week depending on how life went. I also feel shame if I write “didn’t workout today” too many days in a row. I would definitely recommend this for people like me who love to snack. Snacks don’t seem like a lot until you have to write them all down. It’s also a great way to notice if your body is hitting a plateau because you haven’t switched up your routines yet. This year I have two different Health + Fitness Journals that help me keep track of everything.


Meal Prep with VARIETY: One thing I noticed throughout the years is that if my meal prep doesn’t have variety, I will NOT be able to stick to it no matter how hard I try. There are only so many days that I can eat fish, broccoli, and brown rice before I lose MY damn minds. I’m a self-named Foodie and if my food doesn’t have variety, that is a sure fire way for me to rather eat out of the house than eat what is in my little square container. What I did back then and do now is try to make 4 or 5 different yet cheap meals that have various flavors so that I don’t get tired of them and switch them up each day. Pinterest has made this even easier now that I am a pescatarian transitioning to more plant-based diet. I’ve mastered the art of $40 a week Trader Joe’s grocery shopping.


A Workout I Love: This one is a very important one! It should be the first one but I already wrote the other two and I’m too lazy to copy and paste it as the first one. Judge me if you must. Anyways, nothing is more discouraging to your health + fitness journey than if you hate the workouts you have to do. It’s one thing if there is a workout you hate every so often like “Leg Day” or whatever but if you hate most of your workouts you’re going to have a bad time and eventually stop going to the gym and working out altogether. When I lost weight last year I was obsessed with the elliptical, Turbo Kickboxing, and Zumba classes. I could do those every day and never get tired of them. Once I realized I needed to switch it up I went to a Total Body Class that (implied by the name) put my entire body through the ringer. I hated the class during it but appreciated it once they changed the time and I couldn’t go anymore (I’m weird like that), haha. The point is, I had the workouts I looked forward to in mind when I was doing the ones I didn’t necessarily love. They also replaced the total body class with a hip-hop class so I was all for it.

Honorable Mention* Meal Replacement Shakes and Bars: These are a controversial topic but they worked for me and probably saved me from gaining back more weight than I did. I didn’t use them as the basis of my diet but I did like the have them for breakfast as opposed to warming up something from meal prep in the morning. This was a solution after one too many times of running out of the house and forgetting my oatmeal in the microwave and thus starving or having to get a bagel or some nonsense before going into the office, class, or work. They are very useful for people like me who don’t always feel like dealing with meals in the morning.

DRINK WATER: Period, point blank! I will not go into detail with this because it is the most obvious! Start with a smaller daily intake amount and keep increasing it until you’re drinking near a gallon a day. Not only will you not waste precious calories on sugar water but your skin will glow and you’ll feel better on the inside! 


These are just some of the few things that helped me get on track last year and are helping me do the same this year. Another thing I noticed is I work better with a schedule of some sort when it comes to fitness. Once I had to cancel my gym membership and didn’t have set in stone classes to attend, I started to gain weight back. When I stop working out it’s easier to eat like trash because I don’t look at it as “undoing all my hard work in the gym” which is silly because everyone knows abs are made in the kitchen but that’s how my brain works sometimes. It’s just nonsensical. This time around I also have my Fitbit which helped me this summer when everybody was using it. I used to love having challenges with my friends. Besides my Fitbit, I am currently in an accountability group with some of my sorority sisters in different parts of the nation. We have weekly Google Hangouts to discuss our progress and daily check-ins. I think it’s working for me so far. Along with all of this I have my own personal fitsagram which documents my health and fitness journey. I’m barely starting to use it consistently though so I’ll let you know how it goes.


At the end of the day, our Health and Fitness Journeys are our own. What works for me may not work for the next person but one thing ALL people who want to embark on this journey is  that they have to have the will and determination to do so. There are going to be rough times when you may fall off the fitness wagon for a few weeks or more but you can always choose to do better if you want it bad enough. Don’t wait for Mondays and New Year’s Day if you do fall off the wagon. Just get back on an keep on going. You’ll thank yourself later.

Do you have any health + fitness goals established? What are some tools you use to help you stay motivated? Talk about them in the comments!

My Subscription to The Planner Addict Box: January Edition 

The concept of a Subscription Box has always been so interesting to me! For those of you reading who might be unfamiliar with them, it’s basically like a magazine subscription but instead of an issue of Cosmo or Vogue arriving in your mailbox once a month, you get a box full of goodies to enjoy. It’s like a monthly mini-Christmas and I, for one, am totally here for it. When I moved back home I discovered that my mom was subscribed to Graze and would receive a box of 100 calorie snacks at her job every month. I was telling her how back in undergrad I had wanted to subscribe to a box titled “The Planner Addict Box” which I believed to have been made specifically for ME but I was too broke. I left the living room to go do something else and thought nothing of the conversation. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am obsesssssed with my planner and the box literally was meant to be with me. Well my mother knows me very well and she decided to gift me a monthly subscription to the Planner Addict Box (isn’t she the sweetest?)

I don’t know if it has been conveyed enough in the posts I currently have on my blog but I’m truly a Planner Addict. I obsess over my planner. I like planning, decorating, writing, drawing, washi tape, post-its, pretty pens you nameeeee it! I’m in multiple Facebook groups dedicated to planning and my Passion Planner. Anyone who knows me well would not be surprised to find out I had a subscription to “The Planner Addict Box.”  Needless to say, I was anxiously waiting for my first delivery. The idea of getting more washi tape alone was enough to get me excited. So far I have received four boxes.I got my October Box and November Box while I was in Ohio and my December and January boxes in Vegas, where I will be getting the rest of them.


I will admit when I first got my October Box I was a tad bit underwhelmed. I was cursed due to my expectations from seeing previous boxes on Instagram. This box didn’t look as nice as those and one of the sticker sheets had been printed on regular paper. The company later fixed the issue by sending me two sheets of the stickers instead of one which made me happy but it did delay my planner decorating. However, the box did have some decent items. I decided not to cancel my subscription and see what was in store for the following. Luckily for me, the November Box was amazing and definitely reassured me that subscribing to “The Planner Addict Box” would not be something I felt bad about. The December box was great as well. Now for the Box I will be reviewing!


This is my January Edition of My “The Planner Addict Box” (being referred to as TPAB from here on out) and the first box of the new year! Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m going to review the box overall and then list my favorite items from this month’s delivery.

Overall Review: I loved this month’s box! The theme was “Let’s Party” in honor of the New Year and I think the people over at TPAB did an excellent job of putting it together. By using colors like pink and gold, this box was quite beautiful to look at and even more fun to use. It included: die cuts, a sticker mini-kit, TWO washi tapes, a golden paperclip that reads “YAY!”, a pen, and mini-calender sheets for the first 6 months of the year. Without a doubt I can see myself using every single one of the items in the box for many months to come. I especially love how they changed the color and shape if the boxes because the new boxes are so cute. Another thing they added that I appreciate is a card with a list of everything that is in the box. Without further ado I will be talking about what I enjoyed the most this month.

Here are some of my favorites from this month’s delivery:

Black and White Polka Dot Pen w/ Gold and Giant “Diamond”: As soon as I opened the box I was obsessed with this pen! I love how it looks and how it incorporates many of my favorite colors and my birthstone. I have been told that I’m “extra” more times than I can count and I feel that this pen is as extra as I amimg_2503The Stickers: I really enjoyed these stickers more than I expected myself to. My favorite ones were the To-Do List heart shaped ones. I didn’t realize I needed so many functional stickers in my life until I started my TPAB subscription boxes. The color scheme of this month stickers was beautiful and included light pink, pink, golden yellow, dark blue, and white!

3. Washi Tapes: Okay so it’s not a surprise this made it on the list because my washi-tape addiction goes hand in hand with my planner addiction. I really liked this month’s patterns and will more than likely use them more than I’d like to admit in the upcoming months. This is the first time in my time receiving TPAB that we received two washi tapes instead of one and I was so excited about that! One was pink and white with gold splatter and the other was a confetti pattern. The confetti pattern one would totally be perfect for outlining birthdays in my monthly spreads or at the top of someone’s birthday in my weekly spread.

I’m happy that my mom decided to gift me a subscription to TPAB. It has taught me a lot about myself as someone in the planner community; I have learned that I need to step my planner game up before I take to posting it on Instagram and using hashtags. I will be reviewing next month’s box right when I get it so stay tuned!

Are you subscribed to any subscription boxes? If yes, which ones? If no, which ones do you wish you were subscribed to? Answer in the comments!

The Year of No: Prioritizing Myself Over the Comfort of Others

When I was a young child I used to adore reading. I breezed through everything from the Junie B. Jones series to The Babysitter’s Club and whatever else I could get my hands on. Once I graduated and had more free time, I promised myself I would read more. I did but I felt like it wasn’t enough which lead another goal being established in my plan for a great new year. This upcoming year I plan to read two books a month. I had heard great things about the book “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes so I added it to my list of books to read before 2017 ended. Now I haven’t read the book just yet but based on the title I believe the book will be about saying yes to experiences or things that one would typically say no to in order to live a more exciting life. I do believe that everyone should get out of their comfort zone every once and while and say yes to non-harmful new experiences (I say non-harmful because I don’t care how many self-development books I read, if you offer me a line of coke in the bathroom at True North I’m going to say “No Thanks!”) However, what happens when you begin to say yes so often that your ability to say no is obsolete?


I’m someone who struggles with saying no to people especially my loved ones and people I care about. At different parts of my life this has led me to be exhausted 90% of the time and always dragging myself to complete some task I don’t want to do, a night out on the town when I’d rather stay home, or any other thing I committed to when I knew I shouldn’t have. With a half-assed presence I would count down the seconds, minutes, hours, until I was able to go home. 80% of the time I would regret leaving my house and the 20% of the time I would actually end up enjoying myself never made up for the majority of the time I was not feeling it. I usually ended up feeling overbooked, tired, and regretful.


This need to say yes to everyone and my fear of letting people down is one of my more stressful flaws. Combine this with my FOMO (fear of missing out) and I was always out doing something and really never had time to myself. “I’m everywhere and nowhere all at once” I would say half-jokingly because the times I was somewhere about a quarter way through I would be thinking about the next obligation I had on my never ending to-do list.I remember back in undergrad I would swear “once I graduate I’m only doing things EYE want to do and never being pressured into attending something I didn’t want to.” *Cue laughter from the studio audience* I know, it’s a funny joke. I still struggle with saying no to people. I still struggle with overbooking myself and making commitments I immediately regret but my being a person of my word gets in the way of me backing out. This is why I take the commitments I make so seriously because I know once I say I’m going to do something, I mean it and will not be able to back out of it.


So help me God, I have to learn how to do this now. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t just be shooting people down left and right and become completely selfish. Often times that is impossible simply because of our obligations to family, our employers, organizations, or whomever. I will, however, decide the pros and cons of things that are optional before I commit to them and at some point learn how to say no without feeling guilty. That’s my right. Often times in society we are made to believe that being selfish or looking out for one’s self is wrong. It’s not. If you don’t look out for you, who will? I think it takes a certain level of emotional intelligence to be able to recognize that we can’t do everything for everybody and ourselves which is why it probably took me this long to realize it. While saying yes to new experiences is a great way to live our lives and grow, it also takes growth to realize you can’t drag yourself to everything and put yourself last. At some point, we have to strive for balance and equilibrium in our lives and manage our yes’s and our no’s accordingly.


Have you ever struggled with telling people no or that you didn’t want to do something? How did you manage to convince yourself it was okay to say no? How did you fight the urge to explain why? Sound off in the comments!

New Year, Same Goals: Implementing Structure to Make My Dreams Come True 

It’s been quite a while since my last post and a lot has changed since my last entry! I’m out of Lorain, OH, I visited San Diego, Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have passed us by. We are finally in 2017. While 2016 was quite an…interesting year…it wasn’t the worst year in my personal life. While I did have many low moments (very low moments), I also had some pretty great moments as well! I got a promotion at my job, I won a volunteering award from the City of San Diego, I won the Visionary Award at SDSU, I graduated college, I saw Beyoncé and Halsey in concert, I saw family I hadn’t seen since I was a child and got to spend quality time with my grandparents and I started this blog! I’m not saying any of this to brag but to really try to focus on all the great moments I experienced last year. I believe I’m going to need to look at the bright side the next few years (completely unrelated to any significant country changing things that occurred around early November, loljkorami?). 

My last blog was on making New Year’s Resolutions and how to make sure you are successful in achieving them. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to cultivate a successful blog. While we all define success as something different, for sake of this post I’m defining it as a blog with consistent posting that meets my mission encouraging others to embrace their own life journeys with honesty and transparency with others but most importantly to gain the ability to be transparent with themselves. Because this is my goal, I now have a little bit more structure in regards to how my blog will be going the next few months as I figure out what the hell I’m doing. 

The structure I will be implementing is as follows: Wednesdays I will pick a random thing to post about, Fridays I will post a something Health + Fitness related (recipes, workouts, apps, etc), and Sundays I will post my musings (I mean hello! It is called The Musings of Mara after all!) I’m also in the process of putting together an Instagram account strictly for The Musings of Mara so that people can follow me there too. At some point before my 24th birthday I will also be buying a domain! 2017 is the year of manifesting my brand and I’m going to get it done! 
My purpose of this entry by posting this I will be feel obligated to hold myself accountable or feel public shame (seriously, call me out on my shit if you actually read this blog and notice I don’t post on one of the days I just said.) I really feel that this year will be a great one. 

When December 31st, 2017 rolls around what is one thing you will have wished you accomplished?