Inspired Living: On Turning Thirty & Creating the Life You Want to Live

In exactly 30 days from today, I'll be turning 30!

I know a lot of people tend to approach this milestone with a certain sense of bad freaking-out-ness (totally a real word), but I'm just excited.

Why? Because I'm exactly where I want and need to be right now in my life. I created a career for myself that allows me to do all the things I love, and which has set me on the path to achieving all the things I dream.

Please note the use of the word "created." That's so key, because I really did create it. It was an active move on my part. I figured out the stuff that I love to do, and then I figured out a way to get someone to pay me to do them.

About 3 years ago, I made a dreamboard. A dreamboard (also known as a vision board or a treasure map) is really just a visual collage of all your hopes and dreams and goals. It's a way of concretely making a statement about the things that you want to draw into your life. I've been making dreamboards since I was a little girl. My mom, a life coach and psychologist, is BIG on them. I remember sitting at the table with her and my little brother cutting and pasting pictures of things we wanted.

The big dream on that board I made 3 years ago was the phrase "work from home." I pasted it over an image of a woman soaring through the air in a red dress, which to me looked like the perfect embodiment of freedom and success. By that point, I had figured out that working in an office was not for me. I hated having to report at the same time to the same place every single day. I hated having to sit in a chair for hours and hours a day, just because. I hated memos and meetings and things that took hours when they could have easily taken minutes.

Even though my job was pretty awesome and afforded me some incredible opportunities, I couldn't get away from the feeling that I was wasting my time and not doing what I was meant to be doing. I used to wake up feeling stressed and dreading the day ahead; on Sunday evenings, a feeling of depression would take over as I thought about the week ahead. I felt like I had very little time to do what I really wanted to do, and would resent anything that took away from my tiny bits of freedom--dinners with in-laws, phonecalls from friends, even weekend brunch dates! I was constantly calculating just how many hours I would have left to pursue my real dreams.


In the Fall of 2010, I started getting backaches. The pain started getting worse and worse, radiating down my legs until one afternoon at work I was in so much pain that I hobbled into my boss's office and tearfully asked her if I could go home. It hurt so badly that I had actually started to cry. I took a cab home that day, swallowed about 4 Advils, and fell asleep on the living room floor with a heating pad on my back.

A doctor discovered that I had a bulging disc in my lower back, and I soon started treatment. I worked out an arrangement with my employers that allowed me to work from home or leave early on days when the pain was too strong. I also would usually leave for a couple hours during the middle of the day for physical therapy. The funny thing is this: despite the massive amounts of physical pain I was in, I found that I was overall feeling much happier because I was spending less time in the office.

Yup, I was actually thankful for my super painful injury!

And that's when I realized I had to make a change, because it's never a good thing when horrific physical pain is actually the better alternative.  (Feel free to quote me on that.)

I started saving money and worked things out with Eugene so that I was able to leave my job about 6 months later. I admit that I left without a plan. I had vague ideas, but I just knew that I needed to get out of that "comfort" zone (as uncomfortable as it actually was) and force myself to go for something truer to myself.

What actually ended up happening was different (and better!) than I expected. I started freelancing and was even hired by my old bosses to write the food and cocktail pages for the magazine Cosmopolitan for Latinas, which launched last year.

I've gotten to travel to more places since I left my job, than I did in the previous 6 years combined.

I started doing more and more TV appearances and hosting, and realized that it's something that I both love and am actually very good at. I also made some great partnerships with brands that I actually use and respect to develop recipes or serve as a spokesperson.

There is a lot more on deck for the coming year and I am enjoying every minute of it.

And another (and probably the best) thing has happened. While I enjoy the free time and ease of the weekends, I find that on Sunday nights I'm excited for the week ahead. Sometimes, I can't even wait for it to start, because I know that each day brings another opportunity to do something amazing.

And that's the BEST THING EVER, because we have each been granted limited time on this earth, and I don't believe that any of that time should be wished away or dreaded. 

If I hadn't taken that major step a couple years ago, I would probably be facing 30 with a mix of depression and fear, but right now, I'm just ready for the awesome ahead.

Let's do this!


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