Lesson 2.

Do it today!

Procrastination will get you no where.

Sadly, I rarely follow that mantra especially during breaks from school. My latest blunder included spending my last day of Spring Break locked up in my house writing what seemed an endless amount of essays and reports. Take it from me, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. It’ll always bite you in the ass. You’ll either not do a good job at what you’re supposed to be doing or get stressed out by a huge workload.

There’s not enough hours in the day…and certainly not enough days in the week…and it gets harder to be organized these days; we’re always running around and just busy living life. Luckily…I found this cool site with tips on killing procrastination! Good luck:

PRODUCTIVITY HERO — YOUR ACTION PLAN

1. Create routines. Make a habit of, well, sticking to habits. Choose actionslike writing emails at a certain time or hitting the gym after work, and try to do them daily. Soon that routine will happen on autopilot.

2. Get enough sleep. Whoever coined the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” didn’t have all the facts straight. Not getting enough Zzz’s could hinder productivity at work, so try to get those recommended seven to nine hours of snooze time [1]!

3. Wake up earlier. If still able to squeeze in enough sleep, try extending the day by getting up an hour earlier — when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions.

4. Step away from the inbox. Incoming emails can be a nuisance. Make a habit to only check the inbox at certain times of the day to avoid getting sidetracked with requests and responses.

5. Make a daily to-do list. Stay away from huge to-do lists. Instead, create a daily list of realistic jobs to tackle, like folding laundry, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or paying the cable bill. Break up big goals into micro-tasks, like going to a yoga class over getting six-pack abs, or writing a page over completing a thesis. Soon, the small things will add up to big accomplishments.

6. Make a to-don’t list: Bad habits are just as significant as good ones. So make a list of things not to do because they make you unproductive. (We’re staring at you, Netflix.)

7. Don’t multitask. Our brains aren’t wired to juggle too much at once, and we can work nearly twice as fast if we do one thing at a time [2]. (And nope, we’re not talking LOST time-travel.) [3]. So remember those childhood manners and finish tasks one at a time.

8. Silence the phone. When it comes to getting stuff done, sometimessilence is key. Turn off the cell phone ringer — that’s what voicemail is for!

9. Take a midday workout break. Can’t fathom cleaning the bathroom? Or having writers’ block? Working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help us get more done later [4].

10. Stay healthy. Just like… don’t get sick. (It may be easier said than done.) But health and productivity go hand in hand, so be sure to maintain good health habits, like washing up after hitting the gym [5]!

11. Do those MITs. Nope, this isn’t college talk. MIT stands for most important tasks, and it’s a way to highlight the items that matter most on that to-do list. At the start of each day, write down a few things that must get done.

12. Hit inbox zero. Sort every email once that inbox is open. Respond, file, draft, or delete. Keeping the inbox clean is key to staying organized and on point.

13. Brainstorm. Take some time to sit and get those creative juices flowing. Without distractions, brainstorming may be the way to come up with killer ideas in record time.

14. Keep a pen and pad on hand. Make like Richard Branson and carry something to catch any useful thought that may come to mind. Get really creative and go DIY style.

15. Shut off social media. Sayonara, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social media can be a huge time-suck. Studies have found that it can take up asignificant chunk of time at the office, and may even predict lower grades in school. Let’s unpin that.

16. “Eat the frogs.” We swear it’s a real term. Do the task you’re least looking forward to first to get it out of the way. (No guarantees Prince Charming will emerge.)

17. Slow downRead. This. Slowly. Getting stuff done isn’t always a matter of making it to the finish line first. Take time to reflect, brainstorm, and recharge.

18. Track time. Take a day to record how much time is spent writing emails, reading blogs, texting, etc. We may be surprised at how much time certain activities (ahem, browsing Pinterest) take up every day.

19. Don’t bounce around. Box off a specific amount of time for every task. Assign a chunk of the day for one project, and once that time is up, move on to the next mission.

20. Look back. Schedule some time every week to see what was accomplished and if that schedule needs tweaking for the following week.

21. Tune out. Those headphones will help tune out any distractions. Plus, others may be less likely to interrupt if they see we’re plugged in.

22. Set triggers. Leave reminders around to help remember what needs to get done. Place bills that need to be paid or books to be read out in the open. Stick reminders on the fridge!

23. Eat well. What we scarf down for lunch may do more than satisfy hunger. Certain foods, like salmon, almonds, and carrots, can give us a much-needed boost of energy. So forgo the take-out and be picky at the cafeteria!

24. De-clutter. Get rid of anything in the way that may cause distractions. Put away the dishes, fold clothes, and get rid of excess papers on the desk.

25. Say no. Don’t stretch yourself too thin — learning to say no keeps us focused and may even ward off sickness.

26. Take a break. Carve out some quality “you” time to keep a balance between the busy world and the rest of the day. 

27. Download help. Still need to get sh!t done? Luckily, there’s an app for that.

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Original article can be found here.

My Mexican-American Sundays

Happy_Easter_picturesHappy Easter everyone! Hope everyone had a blessed day; the weather here in NY was AMAZING (for once) so I hope y’all NYers took advantage of it! (I know I did!) I took my dogs out for a two mile run in the morning, then again after dinner.

cesar_chavez_dayHere’s a fun fact about today’s date, March 31st: It’s Cesar Chavez‘s  birthday! For those of you who don’t know who this man was…here’s the cliff notes version. He was an American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, who, with Dolores Huerta (and who I got to meet at Voto Latino’s First Power Summit – yay me!), co-founded the National Farm Workers Association.

Anyways, I originally wrote this post last Sunday but I thought I’d save it for today! It’s really small since I don’t want to make you guys read a lot on Sunday. Hope you enjoy:

Sundays for most people are sacred. It’s a day of worship for some and a day off from life and work for others. And for a few others, it’s a day to be dreaded since it means you are about 24 hours away from commencing a new work week. For me, it’s a little of everything; it’s my day off, it’s my day to catch up with family and life.

I basically start out the day by walking my three dogs while my mom, aunt and uncle make a feast for breakfast. Two miles and 30 minutes later, I get my reward. Usually eggs with bacon and hash browns with a little dessert (like pancakes, crepes, french toast or waffles). We all sit and chat while stuffing ourselves. The things we talk about vary from the latest chismes (household/family gossip) to cooking tips to current events (mostly political ones). After breakfast (and the long clean-up), the “cooks”  clean the house and take a nap while I knit some rows and update our weekly to-do boards.

Our evenings are basically a dinner version of our breakfast. And personally, I enjoy them more than breakfast because I’m actually wide awake by then. Well that and the fact that we sit and joke about life while sipping warm coffee. Occasionally, we’ll even play a Mexican card game; and though I rarely win, I still enjoy it because it’s one of the few moments that I get to connect with my family.

Sundays are my blessed day because I thank God for everything and everyone I have in my life. I honestly couldn’t imagine it any other way. Thank you.

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I’ll leave you guys with this: (a pic of my reward for fasting during Holy Week) I enjoyed a nice juicy steak with pear salad and black beans:

 

Mid-life crisis in your twenties?

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“Keep your head up, sweet beautiful girl. This is just the beginning to all that you will accomplish.”

I turned twenty about a month ago. And you know…I’ve never felt old until now. I sit and I wonder, ‘Where am I heading? What am I doing? What do I want in life?’ Maybe it’s me or maybe it’s not…maybe it’s something that everyone ponders about, at some point in life?

I still haven’t figured out everything but I do know this much about myself:

I am (still) a college student; and a very good one! I will graduate college in two more years; if it takes longer, then that’s okay, but I WILL graduate. I want to be successful (in pretty much every aspect of life) and I want to make my family proud. It’ll take time, of course; and at twenty years old, I have nothing but time! At twenty, we’re all still students…of LIFE; maybe we never grow out of that phase?

Anyways, I found this cool article by Karen Vitale (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/article) and it really opened up my eyes. And I mean REALLY OPENED up my eyes…(I was falling asleep on the couch)! Hope you enjoy:

Dear Earnest, 20-Year-Old, Job-Hunting Me,

1. First off, chill out

I know you feel like everything is riding on this next interview. That this is it, the dream job, and blowing it means ruining your life. But I’m here to tell you that there is no magic career bullet. You will ace interviews and flub interviews. You will get dream jobs, lose dream jobs, realize there are no true dream jobs and life will march on.

So instead of trying too hard to get employers to want you, channel some of that nervous energy into figuring out if this is the best job for you. And if things do go south, remember that how you respond will say more about your character than any pat answer to an interview question. So do your best damage control and show them how you manage a crisis in real-time.

2. Beware of Gossips, Liars and Bullies

On a bad day, some workplaces can seem no different than a glorified high school. And even in the best-managed companies, it pays to keep in mind that no one’s got your back like you do.

Learn how to navigate these tricky waters early on to get a better sense of who you are and what you stand for. Peer pressure is alive and well in the workplace. And if it’s your boss pressuring you to adopt a shady strategy, “just say no” requires a bit more finesse.

3. A bar can be a great place for team bonding or networking — but know your limits

If Mad Men has taught us anything, it’s that witty repartee comes so much easier with a drink in hand. But it can be a short, stumbling walk from social drinking to sloppy behavior for some. Know what’s reasonable for you if you want to stay on your game, and stay well within that range, even if it means not keeping pace with others.

4. Develop your gut instincts, and go with them

We hear so often that hiring decisions can hinge on split-second judgments about body language or grammar, and for good reason. When life (or livelihood) is on the line, these primal instincts kick in to give decision-makers the best shot at success and survival.

Honing those instincts gives your career the best chance of survival, too. Steve Jobs swore by it, as do Oprah and Donald Trump. But going with your gut can take some practice, especially when you’re just starting out. Keep fine-tuning your intuition now so you don’t have to go hunting for it when you need it most.

5. Know when to hold ‘em; know when to fold ‘em

Now, listen up, Younger Me. After a lot of hard work, you may find yourself in a solid job with a solid company. And you might be tempted to ease up a little. After all, you earned it, right? Sure, things aren’t perfect. But, as we’ve already established, there are no perfect jobs.

If you take nothing else from this letter, remember this: what’s safe isn’t always smart. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that feeling safe is usually a sign that you need to shake things up a bit.

At least ask yourself the hard questions about why you are where you are and how to get where you want to go. Trust me on this one. It’s worth it.

Whether you’ve been on the job market for decades or days, you’ve probably already learned plenty you wish you’d known before you put yourself on the line. Don’t let those life lessons go to waste.

Death And All His Friends

The human life is made up of choices. Yes or no. In or out. Up or down. And then, there are the choices that matter. To love or hate. To be a hero or to be a coward. To fight or to give in. To live or to die. Live or die. That’s the important choice. And it’s not always in our hands.

“The human life is made up of choices. Yes or no. In or out. Up or down. And then, there are the choices that matter. To love or hate. To be a hero or to be a coward. To fight or to give in. To live or to die. Live or die. That’s the important choice. And it’s not always in our hands.”

What Is It About Men.

"Be a man. People say it all the time. But what does that even mean? Is it about strength? Is it about sacrifice? Is it about winning? Maybe it's simpler than that. You have to know when not to man up. Sometimes it takes a real man to set his ego aside, admit defeat and start all over again."

“Be a man. People say it all the time. But what does that even mean? Is it about strength? Is it about sacrifice? Is it about winning? Maybe it’s simpler than that. You have to know when not to man up. Sometimes it takes a real man to set his ego aside, admit defeat and start all over again.”

Unaccompanied Minor.

"It's easier to be alone. Because what if you learn that you need love? And then you don't have it. What if you like it? And lean on it? What if you shape your life around it? And then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is, death ends. This? It could go on forever..."

“It’s easier to be alone. Because what if you learn that you need love? And then you don’t have it. What if you like it? And lean on it? What if you shape your life around it? And then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It’s like dying. The only difference is, death ends. This? It could go on forever…”

Lesson 1.

"Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone." --Anonymous

“Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.” –Anonymous

Believe it or not, this is quite possibly one of the most important lessons in any human being’s life. Personally I stand for a lot of things; they range from human equality to animal rights to protecting our environment. But as of late, I’ve been standing up a lot for immigration. It’s an issue that’s very personal to me.

I’m the first in my family to be born in the US. I’m also the first person to graduate high school; and in two more years, I hope to be the first to graduate college. Needless to say, there’s a constant amount of pressure on me every day.

Since most of my family is here in the US without proper documentation, there’s the constant fear that ICE will deport them back to Mexico. I’m a US citizen, and lucky as I am, I owe the gift of having a social security number to my Mexican parents. My greatest fear is that I’ll wake up one day, only to find their beds empty. So I make it my goal every day to stand up for them and for others like them, who are guilty of nothing but of wanting a better life.

I stand for the people you call “illegal immigrants,” for the people that you accuse of taking the easy way out, for the people you accuse of stealing from an economy that is open for everyone.

Here I present to you, one of my favorite speeches. I’ve shared it at various events and I continue to spread the message because even though I don’t run the risk of being deported to a country I barely know, I know the fear that others live through. Enjoy:

What Makes You A DREAMer?

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Albany, NY; 2012 DREAM Day of Action. Senator Klein was in attendance; proud of this QC grad!

Who are DREAMers?

We’re not just undocumented immigrants. DREAMers are your friends, families, colleagues, teachers and even simple acquaintances. We’re not all from the same country, we don’t share the same religion and we don’t follow the same social networks. We’re liberals, we’re democrats, and we’re republicans. We’re many and we’re different. But united we stand because we share a single belief; we believe in doing the right thing.

Today, I’d like to share two reasons why I’m a DREAMer.

My name is Jessica Alonso. I was born in the US and I was blessed with the benefits that come with a social security number because my mother had the courage to leave her native country. She entered the US and slowly worked her way to New York. She worked two jobs, earning well below minimum wage and she’d barely get by.

College was never an option for her, even more so after she became pregnant with me. College would’ve been an option if a) it were affordable, b) if she had access to financial aid and c) if there was a possibility for a better future after obtaining a degree. Tuition keeps rising every semester even for CUNY schools, which are supposed to be the most affordable post-secondary schools in NY and in the country. I’m a full time student at Queens College and I pay $2953.25 every semester for tuition alone. My mother doesn’t take days off; “sick days” is an unfamiliar phrase to her. She works in harsh winters, unbearable heat waves, rain or shine…and there are still days where we can’t make ends meet. A few times too many, I have considered dropping out of college to rid us of a ridiculous expense. I receive financial aid and it’s this bad for me. Now imagine how difficult it must be for those with a dream but no access to financial aid or even the tiniest hope that their dreams will come true after college.

My entire family is here illegally and I see no shame in saying that they are. One of my uncles, who’s an amazing cook I might add, had he been given the opportunity to attend college, today with no doubt in my mind, he’d be the successful owner of a Mexican restaurant.

I’m a DREAMer because I owe my mother and my family so much. My loyalty lies with her. She was there when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, she was there by my side for five long years of surgeries and therapies, and she’s still here by my side. Without her, without this immigrant in my life, I would not be standing here, talking about a change. Just think, had the brilliant doctors that saved my life through countless innovative surgeries and radiation, had they not been granted the opportunity to attend college and med school and the opportunity to put their degrees to good use, I might not be here at all today.

My second story is that of a close friend who was born in Colombia. It seems not too long ago that I met the goof ball that I’d soon consider a friend, a confidante, a brother and a partner in crime. His name is Nicolas Guerrero, and like the Greek and Spanish meanings to his name, he’s a warrior, a fighter, a believer; and to me, he’s Niko.

As our first semester progressed, I introduced him to former president of Student Association at Queens College, Sixto Arias, and his Gamma Omega Delta Fraternity brothers. Shortly after meeting, he was recruited and began his tedious pledging process. Pledging was eight long weeks; and for those eight weeks, he was gone, away from all distractions and off to bond with his line brothers. Even though he was gone, he was always there to help me with my problems; always there to reassure me that everything would work out. Even when he had a million things on his plate, he’d still find the time to search for the right words to say. He’s done so much for me, so much more than someone I’ve known for my entire life, has ever done for me.

Throughout our freshman year, not only did he pledge GQD, but he kept maintained his GPA well over a 3.2. He aspires to do something in psychology and it hurts that he may never get the chance to see this dream come true simply because he is not a citizen. He’s a part of NYPIRG and he advocates for higher education, not just for undocumented immigrants like him but for the fortunate few who were blessed with the right to an education. People like him are rare and they deserve a chance at being treated as equals. He’s another reason why I’m a DREAMer.

Jorge Steven Acuña, Byron Pullutasig, Nicolas Guerrero, Katharine Tavares. Do you know what these four people have in common? They’re immigrants, outstanding students and active members in their communities. They deserve a chance at a decent future; they deserve the opportunity to be called citizens of the US; and they deserve the same benefits that you or I have. They shouldn’t live in fear of having their homes raided at any time of the day or night and of being deported. The DREAM Act would allow these incredible colleagues of mine to put their degrees to good use long after having graduated from college; it’d set them on the path to citizenship; it’d end the fear. And who knows maybe one day they’ll find a cure for Alzheimer’s?

Someone once told me, “All we [immigrants] do is take and take from America; we never give anything back.” I disagree with this. Truth is, immigrants do more than we give them credit for. They have created diversity in America, they bring the children of the future, they created the children of today. Undocumented immigrants in New York alone, pay upwards of $662 million annually in taxes, just like you. They uphold jobs, they strive to get ahead in life, they wish to settle down and live in a nice house…JUST. LIKE. YOU. Think about the citizens that populate the United States today, well we wouldn’t be citizens or even alive if our parents, our grandparents, or our great grandparents hadn’t taken the risk of emigrating from their home countries. Don’t we owe it to our ancestors to support other immigrants?

To those who are supporting the DREAM Act, I thank you for having faith in the thousands of undocumented immigrants in the US. To those that are still a bit hesitant, I urge you. Help us make America better. “Education is a right, not a privilege.” Education, to my belief, should be the equivalent of our natural rights, equivalent to the rights listed in our constitution. Depriving someone of something so wonderful like an education is like depriving someone from breathing. Who are we to deprive them of such a gift?

Please, do the right thing.

–I urge you all to call your local assemblymen or senators, and tell them why you support the DREAM Act and why they should too!

Here’s to Another Year of Health!

December is always a nostalgic month for me; it’s full of an endless amount of memories, both good and bad.

In December of 2004, I was diagnosed with a tumor. In December of 2005, I had my second major surgery…and lived. That same year, I had various other surgeries (not to mention rehab) to help pick up the broken pieces of me. In December of 2006, I applied to return to high school, despite my physical and emotional “disabilities”. December 8, 2007, I overcame my biggest physical obstacle and I started sharing my story with friends, professors, colleagues, and the world. In December 2011, the Daily News helped me share my story with thousands of people worldwide.Now, 8 years later, I have a lot to show. I’ve been featured in 3 different papers. I’ve met wonderful people who I hope to keep in my life for a little while longer. I’ve been given various leadership opportunities.

And even now, I stand by my motto, “Never live the same day twice.” Life is too short. I was one of the fortunate few that was given a second chance to live. I intend to make a difference in everyone’s life; even if it starts with a smile. My love for writing will always remind me of who I am, who I want to be and why I do what I do.

Here’s my latest article: http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-12-07/news/30487966_1_brain-tumor-queens-college-alonso-lives