The opposite of love isn’t hate its indifference… 

I seldomly deviate from writing about all things lifestyle. However, I couldn’t help but to weight in on the recent violent events such as what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. The violence was the latest development in a series of tense drama unfolding across the United States over plans to remove statutes and other historical markers of the Confederacy. President Trumps response to the catastrophe was simply unacceptable. Not only did he not respond strongly enough to racism but he failed to condemn the white nationalist. Its time to pay attention to whats really going on in America.


I’m deeply saddened by the plague of violence and prejudice which has spread out nationwide and internationally. It appears as our country is reverting back to the 19th century. The KKK? White nationalist? Is the white house trying to cover the sun with one finger? Not much has changed, these are real issues. Let us strive to be an advocate of change. Be kind to others, do acts of service, simply be a better person. Unfortunately we don’t have control over the decisions being made in the white house. However, I believe that change is possible if we stick to those values.


With love,

OokayKaren

Outfit Details

Dress: Zara

Shoes: Gianvito Rossi

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OokayKaren takes Cuba


Havana, Cuba is definitely one of the most popular travel destinations of 2017. I spent 5 days in this beautiful island and was enamored by its people, culture and history. Cuba was absolutely an experience rather than a typical vacation. 


My Experience 

My Airbnb host arranged airport pick-up which was very convenient. Once I landed in Cuba it took two hours for the luggage to arrive. Things in this country move very slow – this was a culture shock as people in New York move with urgency. I was able to change my money from euro to cuban pesos before exiting the airport. My Airbnb host emphasized how important it was to bring CASH as its nearly impossible to find an ATM that take “American cards.” To my surprise the taxi was still waiting outside after a 2 hour wait. The ride from the airport to Vedado was 20 minutes. I decided to stay in this neighborhood because it was right outside of Old Havana. Vedado is a calm suburb with mostly locals and bed and breakfast.

Overall, I absolutely loved my trip to Cuba. I would recommend it to those looking to learn about the culture. Its a place where you can literally disconnect (NO internet) from the world. Every street is filled with so much history. This experience made me see life from a different perspective. I returned to New York with so much gratitude. Before booking Cuba I suggest to talk to those who have visited before. Its important to get tips and recommendations. 


Where I stayed: My Proud Havana Bed and Breakfast Network. 


As I mentioned earlier, I booked an Airbnb room in Vedado, Cuba. I thought it was best to stay in quiet neighborhood outside of busy Havana. Upon my arrival my host showed us the ropes. He gave us a map of the city and pointed out the best restaurants in the area. Luckily this Airbnb provided breakfast each morning for an additional 6 cuc per day. The attendant was super nice and even offered to do our laundry. 



The room felt homey with a flat screen tv, king size bed and most importantly AC! It can get very hot in Cuba. I recommend staying somewhere with AC to sleep comfortably. 



The People…

Wandering in the streets of Havana I couldn’t help but notice that locals rarely made eye contact with tourist. However, they are very helpful when stopped for directions or suggestions. To my surprise there was a law that prohibited Cuban people from socializing with tourist. My Airbnb host explained that locals can get arrested if they “disturb”a tourist in anyway.

Where I ate…

Do not visit Cuba with high expectations on food. In my opinion the food was a hit or miss. Luckily, I had a list of recommendations from friends and stuck to it for most of the trip. The best food is found in “paladares” which are basically restaurants located inside a home. Nevertheless, there are a couple of good restaurants in Vedado which I absolutely recommend.

Paladares los Amigos: Located in Vedado – very affordable homey restaurant with amazing food. Not a fancy place but gets the job done.

Decameron: Located in Vedado – great for a night out. But its more on the pricey side. The customer service is great and you will leave with a full tummy.

Atelier: Located in Vedado – this was my favorite restaurant! The food was absolutely delicious. The customer service was good as well. Although a bit pricey the large portions make up for it.  

Places to see…


Get lost in the streets of old havana. It can literally take a whole day to explore and capture everything. 


 Viñales is the ultimate  “campo” experience. The views are spectacular! Its long drive from havana (about two hours and  change) but worth every penny. Be cautious of where you eat! I suggest bringing your own snacks. 


Fabrica de Arte Cubano very dope art gallery/ bar / club. This place is filled with modern art. They charge a fee to get in but the drinks are cheap. You should never pay more than 3.00 cuc for a drink!

Memorial Day Weekend 

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend flew by in a blink of an eye. Summer is finally here but I can’t help but panic because it truly means we’re at the half way mark of the year. As much as Im excited for the future I worry when things don’t turn out exactly how I envisioned. I’m extremely results driven and at times struggle with managing anxiety. Yes, I do yoga, exercise regularly and eat healthy. However, I’m human and have my moments where I feel like my hard work isn’t paying off. I’ve come to terms that you can’t have everything in life at the same time. I have to constantly remind myself to be grateful. Gods timing is perfect and always on time. Okay getting out of my feelings now – thanks for reading. 

With love,

OokayKaren

Outfit details

Top: JCREW 

Bottoms: JCREW

Shoes: Cole Haan 

You can’t avoid a Brand its yours by default or design.. 

People will always remember you by what you represent – I learned that early. We all know what a brand is, but do we really take time to invest in our own? Often times people think that branding is only for those that own a business. However, your brand is what ultimately sets you apart from your peers. 


My brand has evolved throughout the years but a couple of things have remained constant: professional developement, wellness   and family values. Below are a few tips on branding:

Branding tips 

Be visible.. don’t just show up, make your presence be known.  

Readiness.. have your elevator speech ready. (60 seconds to say who you are, what you can do and what you’re hoping to do next)

Add value.. what are you working on and how does that add value to your organization/business. 

Network.. make your brand known through building strategic relationships. Your network should know your skills, strength and career interest. 

Develop and manage your image.. what messages are you sending? Are they messages that will send you in the right direction? 

Self promotion..bring yourself to the representation of others without misrepresentation, hype or false promise. 


Outfit details:

Top: Zara

Jeans: Zara

Boots: Christian Louboutin 

Practicing non-attachment

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about “attachment” as it resonates with everyone. Ultimately attachments cause pain so why do we constantly attach to ideas, relationships, objects and expectations? When things don’t go as planned we are filled with anxiety, frustration and stress. Stressing about how things will turn out means you’re attached to the idea of how you want things to be. Just let it go! Yes, this is easier said than done. However, it all starts with having a positive state of mind.

Excuse my french but, personally I’ve struggled to let shit go. However, over the years it has become a lot easier to accept things as they are rather than attaching to expectations. In my early twenties I started to read  tons of self help books and one of my favorites is  “Zen and the art of happiness” by Chris Prentiss. In this book I learned the keys to praticing non attachment. 

3 Ways to practice “non- attachement”


1. Meditation – take time to disconnect and just breathe. Find a time that works best for you. Perhaps in the morning when you wake up or at the end of your day. Close your eyes and take a step back. After your session you may find yourself having more energy and a clear state of mind.

2. Accept things as they are – the universe doesn’t make mistakes. Don’t get frustrated if things aren’t going as planned. For example, if it takes longer for you to graduate or purchase a home. Detach from the idea of how things are supposed to happen. Live life with out expectations and have faith that there is something good in store. 

3. Let things go – forget about the past. Live in the present moment. You have no control of people or the future. Things will manifest on their own. Forgive others even if you never received an apology. Holding on to grudges is a form of attachment. Do yourself a favor and move on!

Weekend Warrior

   

As a working professional in corporate America, I try to get as much things done as possible on the weekends. I like to wake up early organize, run errands and squeeze in a yoga class. In my opinion it’s imperative to have interest and hobbies outside of work. Find your passion, serve others by volunteering in the community or become a mentor. A lot of people quit their full time job to follow their “dreams” because of lack of fulfillment or happiness. And thats totally fine (and brave).

 Essentially no job or career will bring you pure hapiness. At some point you may experience stress. But, its your responsibility to DECIDE to be happy. Create a work – life balance that fits you best. 

Outfit details: 
Jacket: H&M

Pants: Zara

Shoes: Steve Madden

Purse: Saint Laurent 

Body Suit: H&M

Bell Sleeve Obsession

The weather was perfect in NYC for Presidents Day weekend. Although I’ve been busy with my career, family and personal life – I couldn’t help but take a trip to the city & shoot this look.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with statement blouses. I found this perfect bell sleeve piece at Zara (it literally goes with everything.) I paired the top with boyfriend jeans to make the look casual yet chic. Below is how I styled it!


Top: Zara

Jeans: H&M

Bag: Saint Laurent

Shoes: Marc Fisher

Coat: JCREW

Xoxo Karen

7 Spiritual Laws of Success


Namaste! I spent the first Monday of the year practicing Vinyasa Yoga. It was my first time at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center and I absolutely loved it. Trying out a new yoga class can be intimidating specially if you consider yourself a beginner. I’ve been practicing yoga for about 4 years now, but have tons of growing to do – seriously I’m not as flexible as I can be. This year my goal is to SLOWLY take my practice to the next level. I really want to tackle inversions! I freak out every time I try to do a handstand. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all mental. During today’s class the instructor spoke about the “law of attraction” and how ultimately we attract what we put our energy in. This message resonated with me as I firmly believe in the law of attraction. Which reminded of a great book I read a few years ago “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra. I recommend this book to anyone trying to change their mindset or better yet their energy. Below are the seven laws and how you can apply them to your life in 2017!

The law of Pure Potentiality – The source of all creation is pure consciousness..pure potentiality seeking expression from the unmanifest to the manifest. And when we realize that our true self is pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in the universe.

(1) Be silent, just to be. Sit alone in silent meditation at least twice a day for approx 30min

(2) Take time to connect with nature. Watch the sunset, or listen to the sound of the ocean.

(3) Practice non judgement. Begin each day by repeating “today I will not judge”

The law of Giving – The universe operates through dynamic exchange .. giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives.

(1) Wherever you go, whoever you encounter bring them a gift. The gift may be a compliment, a flower or a prayer.

(2) Receive the gifts that life has to offer such as sunlight or the birds singing.

(3) Make the commitment to keep wealth circulating in your life by giving and receiving lives most precious gifts: caring, affection, appreciation and love.

The law of “Karma” or Cause and Effect – Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. “What we sow is what we reap” And when we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others the fruit of our karma is happiness and success.

(1) Witness the choices you make in each moment.

(2) When you make a choice ask yourself “what are the consequences?” Will the choice bring fulfillment and happiness?

(3) Ask your heart for guidance and be guided by its message of comfort or discomfort.

The law of Least Effort – Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease.. with care-freeness, harmony and love. And when we harness the forces of harmony, joy and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease.

(1) Accept things as they are at the moment, not as you wish they were.

(2) Having accepted things as they are, take responsibility for your situation and for all the events you see as problems.

(3) Try to relinquish the need to defend your opinion or point of view. Practice remaining open-minded.

The law of Intention and Desire – Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment…intention and desire in the field of pure potentiality have infinite organizing power.

(1) Make a list of all your desires. Carry the list with you everywhere you go. Look at the list before you go into silent meditation, before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning.

(2) Release the list of your desires and surrender to it to the womb of creation, trusting that when things don’t go your way – there is a reason.

(3) Refuse to allow obstacles to consume and dissipate the quality of your attention in the present moment.

The law of detachment In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty.. the wisdom of uncertainty is the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning.

(1) Allow yourself and those people around you the freedom to be as they are.

(2) Factor in uncertainty as an essential ingredient of your experience.

(3) Remain open to an infinity of choices.

The law of “Dharma” or purpose in life – Everyone has a purpose in life, a unique gift or a special talent to give others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of your own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.

(1) Ask yourself daily “how can I serve?” and “how can I help?”

(2) Make a list of all your unique talents – use those unique talents in servicing humanity.

(3) Pay attention to the spirit within you that animates  both the body and mind.

 

Planning Ahead 

It’s the second week of December! The end of the year is creeping up on us. I think we can all agree that 2016 was one hell of a ride. Therefore, it is imperative to start planning for the year ahead. Personally I think about goal setting by September. So if you haven’t already, I encourage you to start planning for 2017. Set some goals – and crush them! 


I focus on four priorities when goal setting which include: God, family, career and health. However, be realistic about your goals or else you will set yourself up for failure and disappointment . Start off by trying to accomplish short term goals first. For example, paying off credit card balances, increasing the contribution to your savings account or getting a new job – all are manageable within a year. Take baby steps and I guarantee you will reach all your goals. 

Outfit details: Coat (zara) Bag (Celine) Track pants (Adidas) Sneakers (Adidas)

Vegan Grub

By Chloe is by far one of the best vegan spots in NYC. Seriously this place is like vegan heaven! Its located on the corner of Mcdougal and Bleecker street in the West Village. My favorite combo is the avocado burger with air fried fries; its amazing believe me! They also sell natural juices, coconut water and small snacks if you’re on the go – all at a decent price point.  


I’m far from a vegan but seriously considering changing my lifestyle. Thankfully, I haven’t had a problem with nutrition. I try to eat white meats such as chicken, turkey, fish and vegetables for the most part. However, transitioning to a full vegan lifestyle will be a huge a CHALLENGE. Honestly – I love chicken. 

Health benefits of going Vegan:

Cardiovascular disease – eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. 

Blood pressure – a diet rich in whole grains will lower your high blood pressure.

Breast cancer – Studies have shown that countries where women eat very little meat and animal products have a lower rate of breast cancer compared to countries where women often consume meat.