A Weekend for the Books

Wow. I don't know where to start because my trip back east was completed to the fullest. I could not have asked for a better weekend.

I arrived to BWI a little past midnight on Saturday. I had a feast of desserts waiting for me at home and I slept like a baby... there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed at home. I slept in, enjoying every moment and by afternoon I headed down to Virginia to see my most beloved band, Dave Matthews Band. (If you don't know them, I encourage checking them out).

A good friend of mine from DU is currently in graduate school in D.C. so on the way to the venue I picked her up and we headed to the venue at Jiffy Lube Live.

Once again, timing. We had fabulous timing. We arrived at 3:26 PM... the lots opened at 3:30 PM... and we had no idea.

I took one U-y and that took us to 3:30 PM. We were one of the first cars to enter the lot. Not bad, ay?

We set up our lawn chairs, appetizers and my nifty UE Boom speakers came in handy and we blasted some DMB. Time flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to head into the concert.

I always get lawn seats at these events. One, I am a college student on a college budget. Two, when you're in the lawn you can roam around and find friends... no assigned seating. Three, the grass is a great spot to put down the blanket and relax. And that is exactly what we did.

They did not have an opening band so it was Dave and the boys all night. I was a happy HAPPY camper. They got on at 6:30, took a set break and jammed all night.

They played some amazing oldies: Oh, Dirt Hill, Two Step, Where Are You Going, Song that Jane Likes, Recently, What Would, Big Eyed Fish, Lie in, Crush, Corn Bread, Don't Drink the Water, Granny, Halloween, Ants Marching....... HOW INCREDIBLE IS THAT?

I am HUGE fan of the oldies.

And then he played some newbies: Snow Outside, Belly Belly, If Only, Be You

If you know Dave or heard any of his live music versions he'll talk in between like "thanks yawl thank yawl very very much..." or something and I just FREAK out. Because I hear it all the time on the live versions on my CDS (wait, are CDS even a thing anymore?)

But my point - it makes me so happy when I am jamming in the car and I hear him talk and then hear the crowd roar, it makes me feel like I am there... and on Saturday... I was there.

It's hard to explain how happy his music makes me feel! I think music is important to include in life.

Anyway, after the concert we zipped out of there and I zipped home. I got a little lost, but that is not out of the ordinary. I always get lost... and I can't say I am happy about it but I can say I am not surprised...

I got home super early Sunday morning but I got sufficient rest and I woke up Sunday to head to the big day... Jordan's wedding! I have never been to a wedding as an "adult" so this was my first one and the first of our friends to get hitched. And not to some guy, but to a Naval Academy stud... Nice work Jordan.
Outside the chapel where Jordan & Trip tied the knot.
It was a fun time. Jordan looked beautiful, I loved her dress and Trip (the husband) wasn't too shabby. The wedding was held at the Chapel and the reception was in Annapolis across from the hotel we were staying at... A great location.

Two of my good friends were in the wedding, in fact Morgan was the maid of honor! It was exciting.

As far as we remember we had a blast.

The evening quickly turned into morning as we celebrated the two and I did not take into account my plans for the following day.

But I rallied come morning. I hopped in the shower and booked it to the DU mens lacrosse game. The game was up in Philly at Lincoln Financial Field. As most of you know, I am an aggressive driver on a mission but this Monday I was on a serious mission and no one wanted to get in my way.

I made it with a little traffic, but just in time for the start of the game.

Unfortunately, I will admit, I missed the Denver tailgate because by the time I parked, got a ticket, and found my seat... I would cut it too close to the start. And I did not want to miss a minute of this historical game.

Tickets online were around $70 not including tax. I even called DU's box office but they were no help in getting me a student discounted ticket so I figured I would scalp a ticket.

I did just that for $45. Not bad! In my opinion, it worth was it. And the ticket was in the DU section... Incredible!

I met up with my good friend Rachael, also a DU senior (and women's laxer), who was home for the weekend and drove from Long Island to catch the game. (True fans... we are).

We watched the first quarter in her seats then drifted over to the Denver section (116-117). When I was watching from the other side of the stadium it made me want to go to the DU section at that moment. We were cheering and chanting "DENVER!" "PIOS!" "Defense!" And we could hear it from the other side of the stadium. I was pumped and I am sure the players felt the love from the fans.

To be honest, the Maryland fans were slacking with the cheering considering more fans from MD were there (because of distance obviously) yet DU showed their pride as if we were back at DU.

Although we are a relatively small school, our school spirit is awesome and it makes me a sincere proud pioneer.

In the DU section I saw some DU alum that I knew and it was amazing to reconnect with them and see how much DU means to them in college or not! I hope we will forever have the DU spirit we do today.

As a spectator... DU dominated most of the game, if not the whole time. They play so smooth, it is fun to watch them. And it makes me happy that I know some of the guys on the field and know what good guys they are at heart.

They deserved this more than any other team and they earned every bit of this journey they have been on. Especially for the seniors, they have been so close every year they have been at DU and finally their last game as a team, they did it. Congratulations boys. You made us proud!

After the incredible win I headed to my Abuela's (my grandmother's) house. She is the best. Aside from my mother, she is the most intelligent and beautiful woman I know. So no doubt I was going to stop by and say hello since she lives in Philly. She used to be a Spanish professor at University of Pennsylvania and Villa Nova.

Of course, when I arrived a delicious home-made meal of my favorite dishes were prepared. Her famous Spanish rice and her incredible fruit and tuna salads were ready. With a small glass of wine to cheers to my graduation and some chocolate strawberries and snickers (a meal is not complete without chocolate in the world of my Abuela and I).

Conversation did not cease to end and I did not head out until past 7 PM. It was wonderful. And the best part - she is coming out in a week for my graduation! I am a blessed girl.

Luckily I did not hit traffic on the way back and I met my sister and dad for a classic Chilis dinner. And at last I arrived at home a little before 10 PM. What a day!

I was exhausted but grateful for having the opportunity of filling my weekend with wonderful people and fantastic events that I will always remember.
(Lacrosse picture is taken by Rachael, thanks for letting me snag it!)

I was able to spend today running around with my mother... thank goodness she skipped her regular Home Depot stop. She is always there, ever since I was a little girl. As kids we were not waiting outside the hair salon or shopping mall for our mother... we would be waiting outside of Home Depot or Lowes... She is the handy man.

Home Depot offered my mom a job because she knows so much about whatever the heck is in there! She didn't take it... but proves my point.

Anyway, I unpacked my bags of clothes and packed up the few things I would take back to Denver.

And now, I am sitting on the airplane Denver bound. Side note - It is unbelievable how I can get internet on the plane. These electronic things blow my mind. I hope I don't get used to it... but it is convenient. (Once I can connect my phone to my computer I will upload more pictures!)

Well, this was my wonderful nonstop on-the-go fun-filled weekend.

But do not worry my Denver friends, I am rarely low on energy and I am ready to celebrate our last week as DU seniors... so strap on your dancing shoes, Dev's on her way!


A Goal Fulfilled

40 days. 30 yoga classes. Accomplished.

In fact I did 30 hot yoga classes in 28 days... Yoga everyday and two of the days I doubled up. I must say I am impressed with myself.

In Dev's world there is no time for hung-over days. 

And yes, I still had the nights that turned into early mornings and the regretful dropping-it-low on the dance floor moments. But that did not stop me from me and my goal.

The best part... after class. You literally sweat out everything. It is a detox and for me a detox from all the toxins I drowned myself in the day before. Point being, you instantly feel better after and there will be no chance for a hang - over, if that was in the books.

I attended five sculpt classes a week, which is a high - intensity workout in a heated studio with weights. (I explained it more in a previous post when I started the challenge). The other days I would switch it up to regular yoga, it was a nice blend.

My motivation? Hmm. So many reasons!

1. To prove myself that this was easy peasy lemon squeeze-y
2. Why not... I already go almost every day?
3. I am going to spend a month detoxing in India at a yoga retreat in a few weeks so I should get even more comfortable with the postures.
4. This is a way to thank my body.
5. I know I will feel better after. ... the motivational reasons could be endless.

But that is what got me up for the 7AM class three times a week. As for this week and last week, I have slept in and did the 9:15 classes because I do love to sleep - in I just try to get my day started. Either way for me that is early and no easy task... especially after the longer night, and knowing my classes on Monday/Wednesday do not start until two o'clock and not until noon on Tuesday/Thursday...

Needless to say I accomplished my goal and yes I am still going to yoga consistently. The day after the challenge was completed I did not go to yoga. Instead, I ran at Wash Park. It was quick couple miles, but better than nothing.

I also went to formal over the weekend in Aspen, which was incredibly fun. (I'll talk about that in my next post). And this was the first time I missed yoga for TWO days! I did not go on Saturday or on Sunday. It was like withdrawal...But I think my body deserved the treat. I got back into the swing of things Monday and have gone to a sculpt every day this week.

The drive home from Aspen gave me the inspiration to get back on the mountain. With all the rain Denver has been having, the snow certainly is nice up in the mountains. So this morning I woke up early, went to A Basin, skied opening lift until 12:15 (the snow was great... not icy or crunchy) I then headed back to Denver to make it to my two o'clock class.

It was superb timing, totally worth the trip. And now that class is over... well I am headed to yoga.

Yoga has become apart of my lifestyle and I continue to reap the benefits every day. It is not for everyone but I encourage all of us to find something positive we can keep as part of our daily life, or close to a daily routine.

An apple a day? Working out? Meditating? Reading? Writing about your day?

When I was younger before I went to bed I would tell myself one thing I was grateful for (I would never repeat what it was in the following days) and I would tell the Higher Being to help me appreciate that one thing more and to bless whatever it was onto those who were less fortunate and did have what I was thankful for.

Simply telling yourself something positive everyday can be something that will make life brighter and happier.

Once it becomes engrained in your every day routine, you will feel the benefits and soon not want to ever let it go!

That is certainly how I feel about yoga. And the best part -- I feel wonderful. I feel healthy. I feel strong. ---> And I know if I continue this lifestyle it will only get better.

In all, I am happy. Happy with who I am on the inside to the outside.

All it takes is a little motivation and inspiration.


The Happiest

The longer I am away from my parents the more I realize how important they are to me. I never thought I would call my mom almost everyday to simply ask her what she is doing. And when I don't talk to her for awhile I get antsy.

My mother and I

And so when my mother and my stepdad come in town I tell everyone that I am booked for the weekend. I do as much work as I can before they get here and tell any group project buddies that I am unavailable until my parents leave.

They arrived on Friday and I was the happiest girl in the world.

My sculpture piece
I met them at their hotel and we grabbed an early lunch at one of my favorite places to eat, Native Foods Cafe. It is healthy, filling and delicious. Also conveniently across the street from their hotel. I gave my mother her Mother's Day gift, which I made in my sculpture class.

Photo curtesy of the hostess
They took me, Kiki and her parents out to an amazing dinner at the infamous Elways in Cherry Creek. The best. Except Kiki and I were disappointed because last time they were in town we got the artichoke dip which apparently is no longer on the menu... huge mistake on their part.

We spent over three hours chatting and thankfully our parents like each other almost as much as Kiki and I do.

In fact, tonight they are going over Kiki's parents house to hang out... not sure if Kiki and I got the invite yet.

Anyway, Saturday I went to yoga, met them for breakfast at their hotel which is fantastic and then we went to Cabellas, one of my stepdads' favorite stores. I got a few pairs of running shorts and a nifty jacket I have worn everyday since.

We then went to one of my favorite destinations, Illegal Pete's for some dinner and margaritas. Kiki joined us and we had a feast with our burritos and happy hour chips and queso.

Outside Illegal Petes embracing the snowstorm in May

Sunday came around in a blink of an eye and we did the hotel breakfast and then I took my mother to some Mother's Day yoga! It was quite interesting. I could not stop laughing.

She was making me laugh and I would tell her to be quite because she would make these ridiculous comments like, "You can get fungus without wearing shoes" (because in yoga you take your shoes off outside the studio room) "You can get a virus from all these people's sweat!" (It's hot yoga so everyone is sweating) "What do you mean my breath? How is my breath suppose encourage my neighbor?!" (The yoga instructor was telling us to use our breath...) ... You get the point. I was doing my best to ignore her outrageous comments. And let's remember this is a yoga environment so negativity is not invited! But in all, she did a great job considering this was her first time in yoga and it was a yoga sculpt, so I was impressed.

Anyway Kiki and I then took our parents to the DU Mens Lacrosse game vs. Brown. Thankfully the snow mostly melted and it was a decent day to be outside. The boys came out with a win so they will play this Saturday at the Mile High Stadium in downtown Denver. That will be a fun game! They play Ohio State.

The evening rolled around and we went to see, Woman in Gold at the South Glenn Theatre. We ordered food and enjoyed their "premiere" upstairs before the movie started. Kiki's parents and Kiki once again graced us with their presence and it was a lovely evening. The movie was good, I definitely recommend it.

To finish off the night we got Nova yogurt... not a bad play.

I sent them home with three bags full of clothes to help take the load of moving out in a month less stressful. One bag was full of only shoes! I suppose I am a shoe lover... but thankfully I have that taken care of and I will be home for a wedding in a week and half so that gives me another chance to move some more clothes and goodies back to the 410.

All in all, I had a fabulous weekend.

I wouldn't trade my time with my parents for the world, and I thought I should share how wonderful it is to appreciate all that they do for you.


Nothing and No One Will Hold Me Back

I got accepted to the M.A. Security and Diplomacy studies program at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

Photo at Sunrise in Ein Gedi, Israel
Words can't describe my feelings.

When I received the email I was in complete shock. I applied back in January and as the months rolled on and as I kept checking the non-changing status, I got discouraged and decided to not get my hopes up and start looking at other options...

Which I was totally cool with, I had no problem fantasizing about moving to a mountain town and being a snowboard instructor and yoga instructor for a year... essentially taking a year off to enjoy life. That seemed like an awesome alternative.

I debated with the idea of applying to other graduate programs in the states but after talking to an advisor of mine I came to the conclusion it was not worth it.

1) The cost. Unfortunately I am paying for college and if you know the price of DU you can only imagine how deep I am with loans.

2) I wasn't exactly sure what program I would want to pursue. I am interested in journalism, but would my job after graduate school compensate the two year program plus my undergraduate degree? I don't know but it is unlikely that journalism jobs, in this day in the media, would suffice because in this field, experience is as important if not more important than a M.A. after your name.

Those reasons were solid enough to make the decision that Tel Aviv University would be the only graduate program I would apply to.

You may be wondering, why Israel? Why that program? That's a great question. Well I was in Israel over summer during Operation Protective Edge, known as a time of "escalated tensions" or "war". I experienced running to bomb shelters, watching the riots, hearing the chaos and hate, tasting grenade smoke, and eventually feeling numb to all of it. It was an indescribable experience. (If you would like to hear a little blurb about it I have a blog post you can read! And if you want to hear from my perspective of the war you can also read my piece I wrote for the Denver Post).

My mother and I visiting the Egyptian Pyramids.
Anyway, from that experience and also spending time in Egypt during the Arab Revolution in 2011, I felt connected to Middle Eastern Affairs and I wanted to learn more. I wanted to understand as much as an outsider could. So programs in the Middle East seemed like great opportunities to do that. I had (have) a dream of becoming Anderson Cooper... and studying these relations do not only exhilarate and fascinate me but could help become that war correspondent I could see myself pursuing.

I looked at programs all over the world. I looked in places that speak Spanish because I also love the Spanish language and want to become bilingual. (Never limit your opportunities.. explore anything and everything!) However I could not find anything that was cost efficient and something that was secure with living accommodations, etc. I looked in the U.K but figured why? There is nothing there I want and the weather is not my cup of tea. I looked in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. I was close to applying to a Lebanon program but with the chaos going on over there it seemed too risky for me. I found Israel's graduate schools in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem.

Talking with a local in the Holy City.
Israel excited me, it is in the heart of the world, a holy place. And more importantly was a cost efficient program and a place I am comfortable. I have been there before and I know what the culture is like. I have seen the areas and this program on Security and Diplomacy Studies would be fascinating. Classes like International Law and the Middle East Conflict, The National Security Concepts of the Arab States and Iran, The Future of War, The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, etc. intrigue me.

All that sounds great but chances of me getting in? I was not so sure, it has been consistently ranked as one of the Top 150 Universities in the World. That is crazy! And I do not have an International Studies/Relations or Political Science major... I am journalism and communication studies! And my minors are Spanish and Business... not so relevant.

Considering all that, as February and March came and went, the idea of going to Israel was not even a thought anymore. I started applying to internships that could possibly lead to a job after graduation and jobs at the career service website DU offers. I met with a career advisor and told her my summer travel plans and how I am worried I will not have a job come September...

And if worst came to worst I would head to the mountains (which is a fabulous idea).

I applied to a few things from event planning to working a concierge desk to writing positions ... things that do not make solid money, but a start. At this point I was down for whatever I mean whatever! I would tell everyone that I would do literally anything, from marketing to event planning to writing to doing secretary work to instructing classes (coaching, yoga, snowboarding) to becoming a teacher (Teach for America) ... the amount of time spent (or waisted) Googling possible options was crazy.

I knew one thing. I knew that I wanted to come back to Colorado. I did not plan to come home this summer, to Maryland, I figured I would fly straight from my summer travels back to Denver. I would leave my car here and get a storage unit while I was gone.

I mentioned back when I applied that I was looking abroad to study but after that I never mentioned it again so when I told my two best friends they were so happy and almost forgot that I even applied to this program.

It was the third week in April, I was walking from the art building to the journalism building (literally the two farthest buildings). I only have ten minutes, and it takes longer than ten but I decided I was not going to haul ass like every other day and walk in to the class panting with some sweat dripping down my back... not this Thursday.

Snapped a photo outside the Wailing Wall.

I called my mom and I was talking to her for most of the walk over. I hung up and then scrolled through my endless list of new emails. One stood out, an unusual email from admissions@telavivuniversity, subject: "TAU Application Acc..." (only part I could read before opening it) And then below read, "We are glad to inform you that you have been..."

I skimmed past it because it was from an unfamiliar email and at that time my phone was cracked and I couldn't see the screen well, but then my stomach dropped and it clicked... "Wait... No... it can't be..."

I arrive at the journalism building a few minutes late for class as I open the email and read, "We are glad to inform you that you have been conditionally accepted to the "(MA in Security and Diplomacy}" program for the academic year 2015/16 at Tel Aviv University."

My heart stopped... I DID IT!! I actually got in!!! I was in shock...

I had to put my phone away for class but as soon as we opened our laptops I went to my email and re-read that email probably fifty times.... "This is real... no joke." Thoughts and questions were shooting through my head left and right... "What will my mom say?" "Does this mean I am going to graduate school?" "What about living here?" "Do I really want to do this?" "What about my car?" "My furniture" ...

Masada, Israel
As soon as I got out of class I called my mom at least twenty times... no answer. Of course, whenever you expect someone to answer they do not. I then called my oldest sister, she sees my mother almost every day and I figured she would know where she was. She said said was out.. fail. But she was the first person I told (besides my classmate, Claire, who I have become friends with because I could not hold in my excitement).

At last my mother calls me back, "Mother you are NOT going to believe it. Guess what?"

"Oh no, what?"


She was full of excitement, I don't recall her exact words. I explained to her how I forgot about it and how I seriously thought I was going to find a job out here. She said she had been wondering about it and was waiting for me to mention it.

After I got off the phone with my mother Kiki walked in the door and I told her. She could not be more excited for me and then I called my other best friend Valentina who had the same reaction. It was a good feeling.

I only had a few weeks to decide if I was going or not. The more I thought about it the more I realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I do not want to be working at a concierge's desk next fall wishing I was getting a Masters degree in a place full of adventure. Valid.

Photo of campus from Tel Aviv University Website.
A huge plus and probably what drove me to accept this invitation was that this program is one year! Yes, one year! I will have my Masters degree by age 23. Not too bad, ay?

I can think of this as a long study abroad trip and return to the U.S with a Masters under my belt. And the price? Almost three times less than paying tuition at DU.

Oh and the campus... it is located in the "Nightlife city" of the Middle East (For those that are picturing solely religious folks in the city, you are wrong. When I was there I thought this could be a city in Florida, it reminds me of Miami, a Cosmopolitan city) and it's surrounded by Mediterranean beaches... That's like an hour flight from Greece... say what? Oh yes. Traveling will be easy considering I will be in the middle of the world.

And although I had plans to do this and that... life is full of change and excitement. You can either sit back, not let change happen and find life boring. Or you can take on change and find nothing but excitement.

But don't think I am some person who is not nervous or fearful of my future. Because unfortunately I was born more a worrier than not. And sometimes I can't help but worry about what comes next. But I tell myself, to not fear or feel anxious about a future plan or an unknown journey because these changes shape you into a stronger, smarter and more compassionate human.

These challenges to accept the unknown, the changes, is what makes life worth living.

In the end, my final thoughts are to let nothing hold you back from an opportunity. To let no one hold you back from an opportunity.

It is important to take EVERY opportunity and accept it with every ounce of energy and passion in your body... so here goes nothing...

Israel here I come!

Instagram-ed this collage of my Israeli adventure when I officially accepted!