13/ 05/ 15

Stayin’ Alive

IMG_6558The words are: “Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that.” Spoken by Howard Thurman and now widely shared across social media, these words are powerful and demanding – yet challenging. I asked myself the very same thing and I struggled to find an answer. How can such a simple suggestion, stir up so much confusion?

I approach most things in life with practicality. In college I studied something practical that enabled me to land a stable job. I then went on to get my Master’s to increase my employment possibilities and higher pay. School was always my priority. Although I was never the smartest one in class, I was dedicated. In moments of weakness throughout my college and graduate career, I forced myself to finish. I never gave myself an option. To me it was always school or nothing – something to check off my list of life. After graduating in December of 2014 and releasing myself from my academic duties, I realized I had no color in my life… no sense of self. After kicking my own ass year after year sans summer breaks and maintaining my job, I forgot who I was nor was I interested to find out – all I wanted was sleep and Netflix. I now approach my work life in the same way. I have it placed on some sort of pedestal – above everything else. Work is the only place I can get things done one by one – bam bam bam, move onto the next and it’s weirdly satisfying. I enjoy being busy, I work well under pressure and I like getting things done. On the other hand, I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life – checking things off somebody else’s lists. I want to take charge.

Everything has always been go-go-go, get one thing done and move onto the next. I always put others before me, I adapt easily, and I’m a professional at rolling with the punches. As efficient as that sounds, I’ve lost myself in the process of it. I’m only just now learning to stop and smell the roses. When I see the words, “ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that”, I realize I have been living absently because everything that had been occupying my life was empty chaos. I have been successful with a lot of my accomplishments, but not with myself.

I owe so much to Texas Style Council for helping me accept vulnerability with myself and those around me. Prior to TXSC Camp, my mind was in complete bootcamp instructor mode: NO B.S., get your shit done, stop whining, emotions are a waste of time. Being really hard on myself has always been the norm, I trained myself to operate like a robot – a.k.a asshole. I can’t do that anymore. I don’t want to be the cause of my own bitterness. I want to care, I need to care.

Although I don’t know the exact answer to what makes me “come alive”, I know there is no limit to that answer. I have hobbies, I love art, I enjoy reading, I enjoy writing, and surprisingly working out brings me satisfaction. However, I don’t approach these things with a passion – I just do them to keep my mind busy. Perhaps one of these hobbies inadvertently makes me “come alive” and I’m completely ignoring it. I need to slow down, I need to take time to listen and truly be present.

This is strictly about myself – my only chance to be selfish. This isn’t about my life as a wife, daughter, sister, dog-mom, legal assistant, friend – this is about myself and my individual happiness. This journey of self-discovery is to help connect with my inner being – go as far as to find my inner child. To nurture her and remind her what truly makes her happy. I want to commit to this for my own well-being and sanity. I want to be present and truthful with myself and do what makes me come alive whole-heartedly and without hesitation.

I invite you on the same journey and I leave you with this quote:

“It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” -Marianne Williamson



06/ 04/ 15

Behind the Title

IMG_5202So you come across this blog and you’re like what even?! The Iron Pearl?! Who does she think she is? Jack Sparrow? I know, I know… it has a pirate ring to it. Trust me, I have zero pirate affiliation. I think someone from TXSC Camp even said it sounds like a steakhouse – no offense taken. I appreciate the creativity.

The Iron Pearl is The Iron Pearl for a couple of reasons. For as long as I can remember, I have been in love with Paris. So much so that I’m convinced I was Parisian in my past life. When I visited Paris, I did not want to come back – I felt at home. The art, the gardens, the spirit, and the magical view of the Eiffel Tower from anywhere in the city… it was a dream come true. It’s no wonder it was home to so many artists, writers, and wanderers – the streets are rich in history and every corner of the city is a painting come to life. You may recognize the name The Iron Lady as a title given to Margaret Thatcher, however, in France the keeper of that title is the Eiffel Tower.

La Dame de Fer or The Iron Lady has been standing strong since 1889 and she did not receive a warm welcome. Like many of us, she too received her own round of harsh criticism. Her sole purpose was to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. To the locals, she was a good-for-nothing, obnoxiously tall, iron skeleton that looked unfinished – the sooner she was torn down, the better. It turned out, she was more powerful than they thought. After serving as a radiotelegraph system during World War I and World War II, they looked beyond her physical appearance and recognized her value. The final decision was for her to stay and now she’s one of the most recognized monuments in the world. One of the greatest examples in history to never judge a book by its cover – or in this case don’t judge a structure by its design.

The Iron Pearl is in part an homage to my love for Paris and the Lady herself and it’s also the title of my story. I am the iron pearl. We are all very familiar with the phrase “the world is your oyster and you are the pearl”, but let’s be honest, that phrase doesn’t keep it real. Life comes with a number of challenges, difficulties, self-doubt – and like the Iron Lady herself- a handful of criticism. On the other hand, I truly believe everything we have encountered in life – good and bad – has contributed to where we stand this very moment.

Looking back, one of my biggest challenges as a child was being forced to an all English-speaking school. I went from a bilingual – mostly Spanish speaking – public school that was down the street from my house to an all English private Catholic school (with uniforms) on the other side of town. It was the biggest culture shock at 8 years old. I was miserable and it was this moment in life that I became introverted. I didn’t want to speak because I was afraid they would make fun of my English; I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends because I wasn’t relatable; the only thing I thought I knew was that all white people liked country music and I was completely wrong. (I was laughed at when I said I liked country music. I only did it to seem cool – bad idea). Although my mom thought it was the best plan for me at the time, I was not having any of it. I would end up at the nurse’s office on the daily because I was so nervous I’d throw up – which I later found out were panic attacks. My first school year at this new school was a mess.

As much as it makes me cringe and feel sorry for my little eight year old self, that whole experience made me who I am today. I now see my mom’s objective for her decision. I was speaking English fluently by the end of my first school year and my writing was the best it had ever been. Not to mention, I learned English quicker than all the other kids at my old school, which was the most important factor for her. She wanted to make sure I was moving forward rather than keeping me at the same constant safe pace – it was a risky move, but it worked.

At any rate, this story is one of the most memorable challenges I’ve had to overcome, mostly because it was at such a young age. My comfortable world was completely pulled out from under me – like when you separate a child from their pacifier or their favorite blankie. Ultimately, it’s moments like this that have made me strong as nails. I have a hard time being “soft” and sentimental because I’ve taught myself to just be practical and “suck it up”. My emotions are a work in progress…

That is the meaning behind the title. Those challenges, difficulties, and criticisms have created an iron coating around a fragile object, the pearl. That is who I am. An unintentionally resilient individual hiding a vulnerable heart.

 



26/ 03/ 15

#SISTERHOOD

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Where do I begin? This has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I’ve come away with so many emotions, memories, and forever friends. My heart is still racing and my mind was officially blown. After my husband picked me up from camp and asked how’d it go, I bawled my eyes out. I was a snot-nosed crying mess on our way home.

Eventually, I composed myself and Niagara Falls stopped. I told him it was amazing – like a fire had been lit within me. Not only did I meet some of the most amazing, inspiring, and supportive women, I feel like I also met myself all over again. It was the ultimate learning experience. I learned about “my self” – I looked at my flaws straight in the face and said BYE FELICIA. I left camp with the goal of eliminating self-doubt, insecurities, and all around negativity! Life is too short to live in fear and we should not be held back from what we deserve.

Everyone knows that this can be easier said than done. I have two dark clouds that constantly follow me: self-doubt and fear. I have always doubted myself and my potential. I’m that person that says “I’m not cool enough” or “I’m not smart enough” and “Never mind. I’m too scared.” I’m only harming myself by limiting my mindset. I learned that I need to be more accepting of myself and my abilities. Camp was all about Creating a Meaningful Presence. I can’t achieve this if I am held back by fear and negativity. I want to create a meaningful presence, even if that means being vulnerable. By doing this I hope to help create a meaningful audience – a group of honest individuals, with themselves and those around them. This can only start in one place…myself.

I am in charge of my own destiny; only I can choose to be happy.

Reality check. We’re emotional creatures and we can trail off the path of positivity when we least expect it. Following your path is vulnerable and it’s perfectly okay to suddenly lack inspiration or need a little push and words of encouragement. This is where Camp’s best gift of all comes in – our sisterhood. We developed an amazing support system to keep each other inspired and motivated. The advice, knowledge, and wisdom that was shared is priceless. We created our own legacy. We are each other’s champions and friendtors. We are here to motivate each other, to be self aware, to remind each other why we do what we do and why we share it with the world. We had the chance to be together physically and now we must remain together in thought.

I am truly honored to have been part of this powerful experience. This was hands down the second best weekend of my life – my wedding being the first :). I will be forever grateful to Indiana and the entire Texas Style Council team for having brought us all together and giving me the sisters that I never had… and now will cherish forever.

Sending my sisterhood all the love in the world. And as Sohpia Rossi said, we are so dope. #besties

Sincerely,

Ana

P.S. Even if you didn’t attend TXSC 2015 and randomly stumbled upon this, tag along! Let’s create a meaningful presence together!



18/ 03/ 15

TXSC 2015

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Y’all! I am so excited to be attending TXSC 2015! Nervous, but excited. This will be my first ever blog-related conference, which is more like a blogger powwow– summer camp style. I hear there will be s’mores, campfires, movie night, but most importantly a group of amazing and inspirational women. Bloggers, designers, writers, lady-entrepreneurs- all around wonder women.

This is definitely something new and out of my comfort zone, but I am thrilled for the experience. I hope to come away with amazing memories and lifelong friends. At the moment, The Iron Pearl is my creative escape from the real world with no specific objective. I just want to write, share, connect. Hence, TXSC 2015 is where I belong. This year’s theme is CAMP- Create A Meaningful Presence and I hope to CAMP to the best of my ability. The only fire we’ll be lighting (besides a campfire) is our creativity! As always, I am easily inspired and hope to inspire.

Love,

Ana



17/ 03/ 15

Mujer Divina

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Natalia Lafourcade es una mujer increíble y llena de luz. En escuchar sus canciones aprendes de la vida y aprendes en el espíritu detrás de su voz. Hay algo muy romántico y particular sobre su manera de ser. Ella no es cualquier artista ni cantante, ella es alguien que debe ser celebrada. Es el modelo que tanto necesita nuestra generación; una persona humilde y dedicada. Humilde a su alrededor y dedicada a su arte. Éste es el tipo de persona que me inspira en ver la belleza de la vida.

Escribo esto con todo corazón y doy gracias que exista una mujer y artista como Natalia. Su música es parte de mi vida y continuará como parte de mi historia. Le dedico estas palabras en un día muy especial… el estreno de su nuevo disco Hasta La Raíz.

!Muchísimas felicidades en el nuevo disco! !Salúd – a una mujer divina!

Natalia Lafourcade is an incredible and bright woman. In listening to her songs, you learn about life and the spirit behind her voice. There is something so romantic and special about her way of being. She is not just any artist or singer, she is someone who deserves to be celebrated. She is the role model we lack- a humble and dedicated individual. She is humble to her surroundings and dedicated to her art. This is the type of person who inspires me to see the beauty in life.

I write this with all my heart and am thankful that we have a woman and artist like Natalia. Her music is a part of my life and will continue to be a part of my history. This is a little tribute to celebrate the release of her new album, Hasta La Raíz.

Congrats on the new album! Cheers to a mujer divina!



17/ 02/ 15

Spanish Colonial Dream

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On Valentine’s Day my husband and I took a day trip to visit the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. We arrived as first time visitors and left the grounds considering becoming museum members. The McNay is exactly what the title of this post is- a Spanish colonial dream. From the clay tile roof to the decorative iron trim and balconies, the beauty of this mansion is unreal. This is Texas’ best kept art secret, y’all.

The McNay is the first museum of modern art in Texas and it houses American and European paintings, sculptures, and photographs dating back to the 19th century. My favorite was their small collection of Medieval and Renaissance art- I was instantly taken back to the Louvre. Read more about how this beautiful home became the McNay Art museum here.

Visiting art galleries has always been so fulfilling and inspirational. There is no right or wrong way to experience art. No matter the subject matter of the piece you are free to interpret according to your thought process and experiences- it’s as if the piece becomes yours. Take your time, observe, think, become the artist, become the subject, connect. That’s how I experience art.

Where do you find fulfillment and inspiration?



14/ 02/ 15

Love Conquers All

LOVE

Stopping by to wish you a very special Valentine’s Day! Use today to love a little harder. Make a mental list of those people who make your life special (pets included) and let them know you love them. This is not exclusive to February 14th but it’s a good start. Make it a part of your life to appreciate those who are a part of your journey and never take them for granted. This includes you- be true to who you are and love yourself first.

Happy Valentine’s Day. <3



09/ 02/ 15

Monday Muse

found on jessiebaylin.com

This woman never fails to amaze me. Jessie Baylin oozes with magic and musical mastery. It’s the kind of magic that puts you in a trance. Just sit there and listen- her voice is hauntingly beautiful. Lately, I have been on a writing hiatus and Little Spark has been my evening soundtrack. After a long day at work, I like to unwind, brew some dark roast, and put Jessie Baylin on repeat. Yes, it’s these things that make me happy.

Jessie’s a gem. It’s strange to say, but, her music has been a big part of my adult life. I played her first album in my first car, I played Mrs. Christmas on repeat after my husband proposed, I listened to Little Spark on my first flight overseas to Paris, and I remember Thorns was playing the first time we used the fireplace in our new home. Why do I feel like this is something I would tell my future grandchildren…

On that note, her new single is a psychedelic dream. I can already tell this will be my favorite album of the year. Cheers to this soulful woman!

 



25/ 01/ 15

Blogger Grail

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Hear ye! Hear ye! All bloggers worldwide! I was so excited when I received my very own copy of Dana Fox’s 365 Blog Topic IdeasI had to share it with you! One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep my creative spirit alive. I want to blog more, read, document, paint, observe, and write. Not only will this book contribute to my creativity, it will help me stay on track! If I’m ever lacking inspiration, I have 365 blog topic ideas to choose from– literally. No excuses!

No, Dana Fox is not paying me to write this. I am genuinely excited to have this book! As a baby-blogger, I’m always thinking about ways to connect with at least one person. I am very easily inspired and I hope to inspire. That’s why I’m here.

Also, how cute are those pens?! …And how awesome is the Alfred Hitchcock journal?!



23/ 01/ 15

Alma Mater

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On Sunday we took a stroll through my Alma Mater. We started our late morning by having brunch at the square and made our way up the hill towards campus afterwards. Although I’m overjoyed about being done with classes, it’s bittersweet walking around my old stomping grounds. Texas State University is beautiful; the greenery, the trees, the buildings, the San Marcos river. It’s a beautiful place to be a part of. It can easily be taken for granted when rushing through campus trying to get to your next class.

On this particular day though, it was no-man’s-land (or like a zombie apocalypse if you’re into that stuff). In other words, campus was empty and quiet — a rare sight. We mostly walked around and checked out the building renovations. My husband picked up his books for the spring semester and we went on to our next adventure. What’s your favorite place for a peaceful stroll?




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