Monthly Archives: May 2013

Thoughts on Grad School Orientation

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Tonight I attended my grad school orientation. Wanted to share some quick thoughts.

If I had any doubt about my decision to get my MPH (my second masters!), they are definitely gone now. I feel completely sure that this is the next part of my journey and I almost wish that classes started sooner! I know that I want to finish the degree as quickly as possible. One timeline mapped out four years of part-time study- way too long for me. I was advised by a current student to take it slow and enjoy the experience. I’d like to utilize my time well and graduate within a reasonable time frame, but I do understand the student’s point. I’m older now and look at this experience from a different perspective. I’m excited about the prospect of learning and I really do want to deeply immerse myself in my coursework. This might require me to go a little slower than I might want in order to maintain the quality of my experience.

Picking courses forces you to imagine your life in the future. Which schedule would be best? You don’t have all the information, but you try to make the best decision. I already look ahead and can tell that eating a healthy & robust dinner is going to be a problem. I’m traveling to school right after work and I will need to plan my meals carefully.

One class was offered as a hybrid class, meaning it’s both online and in person. I wasn’t sure if that was the best fit for me but the time works well with my work schedule. Then I thought about how much I love social media & the fact that online education is definitely where everything’s headed. So why not? I’m going to give this hybrid course a try. Maybe it will be amazing.

One thing I HAVE to mention is that I was stunned to find a lack of consistency within the school of public health about having healthy food. There were vending machines offering snacks and sodas, and the refreshments included diet soda, cookies, and Lays potato chips. I didn’t like it at all. That’s the only thing I didn’t like. I don’t know if I’m being too hard on them or if it’s not something that should be expected from the school, but I feel like it’s common sense. It made me appreciate our Wellness Policy at work. We hold everyone accountable to this policy, even for special events. It’s a cultural expectation and norm.

Other than that, I was excited to get ready for school! It will be a new path- finally getting deeper academic training in the health field. Looking forward to it.

My #ToneUp Summer Fitness Goal: A Push-Ups Challenge

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During tonight’s #ToneUp Twitter Party with @MAMIVERSE, they challenged us to state one fitness goal we would publicly commit to this summer. I instantly thought of push-ups. When I was studying karate for 5 years as a teenager, I had a lot of arm strength. We would do sets of push-ups as part of every warm-up. During karate camp, there was a push-up contest and I was set on winning. I think the winner was determined by who did the most push-ups throughout the day. You had to have someone watch you and sign a booklet. I actually did win, so that was fun.

At the time, I clearly remember that I was able to drop and do a set of 50 push-ups at once.  It’s hard to believe now that I was capable of this. I definitely took my strength for granted.

Now, doing 50 push-ups has always been a goal that I’d like to be able to accomplish again. Right now, I can do about 17 push-ups comfortably in one set. So, it’s officially ON. I will do push-ups every day and work on my arm strength.  At the end of the summer, I will make a video so you can watch me do 50 solid, real push-ups. Here we go!

Latinas Creating Positive Change #OrgullosaProject Twitter Party 6/5

Tonight I participated in a wonderful #ToneUp Twitter Party with @MAMIVERSE where we discussed all things fitness. It was an enjoyable, fast-moving conversation and I was able to connect with some new Latinas online.

One of my goals has recently been to revamp my Twitter presence and participate in more chats. I just got an invite for a chat through Facebook, and I wanted to post about it. Maybe you’d like to join the discussion too!

It’s the Latinas Creating Positive Change #OrgullosaProject Twitter Party. Latina Mom Bloggers (@LatinaMomBlogs), @Orgullosa, and lifestyle expert Evette Rios (@EvrRios) are hosting. You can join by using the hashtag #OrgullosaProject next Wednesday, June 5 at 9pm EST.  I like the focus on non-profit and social change, even if it does come from a large company.

Let me tell you one tip about how I set up for a Twitter party. I always open two tabs: one with Twitter and my @s and the other with TweetChat.com to follow the hashtag. It keeps me engaged in the conversation while allowing me to also remain aware of who’s interacting with my posts.

RSVP for the Twitter party here: http://www.latinamombloggers.com/join-us-for-the-latinas-creating-positive-change-orgullosaproject-twitter-party/

Hope to see you at the party!

Research News: Potential Treatment for Retinitis Pigmentosa!

Retinitis Pigmentosa Cure

For those of us who have Usher syndrome, it can feel sometimes feel like a hopeless waiting game. There’s no treatment and no cure. Vitamin A, lutein, and DHA supplements are recommended to help slow the deterioration of your sight. But that’s it.

Today, however, there’s an intriguing article about a possible treatment for RP and night blindness. A professor harvested some antioxidant-rich orange algae from a lake in Israel and conducted a small study where people actually saw IMPROVEMENT in their eyesight. This is the first I’ve heard of anything improving eyesight. I’m delighted that it’s natural and nutrition-based. I don’t know where it goes from here. The article mentions at the end that it’s being grown by a company now to increase its potency. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Too Big To Fail: Response to Daily Prompt

I liked this prompt and it moved me to respond.

Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).”

I feel like I have too many ideas! It’s not that I’m afraid of failure. Usually what I lack is capital ($$$$) to attempt my ideas. But now as I’m writing that, I wonder if it’s actually true. Let me share a little more of my story with you.

In 2011, I quit my job in teaching to launch a nonprofit program called Healthy Kids in the Heights. I wanted to improve the health & nutrition of Latino families in Washington Heights. Why did I do it then? I felt I was a turning point in my life and didn’t want to have any regrets. This was my passion and I wanted to pursue it. The problem with this venture is that it wasn’t growing quickly enough in order to provide me with an income for myself. I pursued Healthy Kids in the Heights for a year and half, working part-time on other projects as well, but eventually decided it was best to go back into full-time work.  I’m blessed that my day job is in the non-profit field and my focus is obesity prevention and intervention. Healthy Kids in the Heights successfully launched three community programs, gained partners, and raised money. Progress had been made, but I felt I needed more training and a different approach to really make waves. These are the realities of entrepreneurship sometimes. You have to pivot and change course.

So after going through that experience, I’m thinking very carefully about how I would answer the prompt. If I was guaranteed not to fail, I think what I would do is become an expert consultant for schools and institutions to implement comprehensive wellness programs and health interventions. My approach would be to weave in health into all aspects of the organization and embed it into the curriculum. I would want to build investment within the community and involve leaders from the school/institutional environment. In doing this, I would be afraid of failure in two areas: securing a steady stream of reliable, ideal clients & also generating successful outcomes. If I had a guarantee that everything would be successful, then it would be go time! What’s stopped me from doing this already? I feel clients might question my credibility as an “expert.” That’s why I’m going back to school in the fall. I will pursue my MPH (Masters in Public Health) and see where it takes me. My concentration is Community Health Education. I think this idea is a realistic dream that can occur in the future. I just have to get there!

What would YOU do if you were guaranteed not to fail? This is such an awesome question. Would love to hear from you too 🙂

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/daily-prompt-too-big-to-fail/

The Dreaded White Cane

It had been sitting on a shelf in my house for months now. I would glare at it like an evil uninvited guest. I did not request the cane, but my Helen Keller trainer had brought it. So there it sat. For a long time, I didn’t even venture to touch it. Ewww! The cane seemed to represent defeat and shame. I would be different. Everyone would look at me. How would they understand that I still retained some vision? What if they thought I was faking it? What if people I knew saw me? I was not ready.

My brother (who also has Usher Syndrome) did some training with his cane. He encouraged me to open up and try it. He showed me how to use it in my living room and we had some laughs as I “practiced.” It felt so foreign to hold it- like I wasn’t myself.

However, on Saturday, something shifted. I was running late to go downtown and meet my friends for salsa dancing. I grabbed the cane and threw it into my bag. I felt compelled to take it. In that moment, I feel like I viewed it as a tool and not a horrible reminder of my condition. I thought that perhaps I could skip the line to the club if there was one! When I got to 59th St-Columbus Circle, I pulled the cane out and tried to use it. It was an experiment for myself. I knew I wouldn’t see anyone that I knew. There weren’t that many people walking around at that time. It was a little hard to maneuver the cane over bumps in the sidewalk but I did notice that people moved out of the way. It was easy to put together but it was more difficult for me to pull the cane apart. Those magnets are definitely strong! When I got to the club, there was no line and I walked right in. It was a great night.

I felt a small victory because I decided to try the cane and it was not forced upon me. I want to make my own decisions of how to handle my Usher Syndrome. I know that now I am more comfortable asking for further training with the cane and seeing where that might take me. I don’t feel that I need to use it all the time, but it is a tool that could be helpful sometimes. It’s better to have it available than not. I do value the fact that it would help me retain my independence and safety. I will not be defeated. Catarina- 1. Usher Syndrome- 0.

Top 5 Obstacles for People with Low Vision

Did you know? The world can sometimes be a scary place for those of us with low vision. All of a sudden, things can pop up that we didn’t see. They were just in our blind spot. I have trouble seeing below my eye level line of vision. If a person darts in front of me quickly, it can appear as a flash of color and a shock to my eyes. I definitely might flinch or stop in my tracks. Sometimes I even squeeze my eyes shut and put my hands up because I feel like I’m about to hit something. Then I might realize it’s just a person who cut in front of me and then I relax a little.

I’m about to let you in on some obstacles for people with low vision that you might never have even thought about. It’s my personal top 5- enjoy! 🙂

5. Open kitchen cabinet door

I control this so it doesn’t happen too much anymore, but I have definitely banged my head a lot on open cabinet doors! I have trained myself to remember to close them before I leave the kitchen. That way I won’t forget I left them open when I come back.

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4. Sidewalk cellar doors

Haven’t had a problem with this yet but it seems very dangerous for blind people especially. They could be open and someone could fall inside. I steer clear and walk on the other side of the sidewalk- just in case!

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3. Person pulling suitcase

AHHH! Anytime someone is pulling a bag or a cart, I’m focused on looking at the person and don’t realize at all that they might have another appendage. Always have to look down, especially in NYC where people might be traveling or pulling their work bag. I have definitely kicked too many suitcases to count…

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2. Benches, chairs, furniture, etc.

Unexpected furniture can throw me off. If I’m in a museum and all of a sudden, one room has a bench, I might not even notice. I love art- so I’ll be looking at that! One time, I walked right into a bench and flipped onto it, landing on my stomach. Good thing I have a sense of humor!! Oh, and good thing it had a cushion!

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1. The ultimate nemesis: THE WET FLOOR SIGN

This is an obstacle of the highest degree. It could be anywhere at any time. It could take different forms. If you kick it and walk into it, it makes a NOISE as it crashes shut onto the floor and everyone looks at you. If you were trying to walk around and blend in like a normal person, you  failed! Foiled again by the wet floor sign! And that is why it tops my list.

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Bonus item: toddlers & small children! More on that soon 🙂

#30DayChallenge & Happiness

It’s getting late but I wanted to make sure I posted today. I’ve made a commitment to do a #30DayChallenge where I post every day. I’ve been talking about writing a blog for so long that it’s time to get some real momentum going! I’m a firm believer in making your goals public and creating accountability in that way. 

So now I really want to talk about this amazing article I read this week. If I could make everyone I know read it, I would. It’s called “Does Trying to be Happy Make Us Unhappy?” It resonated with me very strongly. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Recently, I have lost touch with some of the things I enjoy to do and I have not felt as happy as before. The article mentions pursuing a state of flow,  in which you’re totally immersed and lost in an experience. Then later, you might think about it and realize that that was a “happy” experience. When do I feel in a state of flow? I can name some things. I LOVED doing karate. It made me very happy. I’m lucky that at work we have a karate instructor and there is an opportunity to continue my studies after 10 years of not practicing. I love salsa dancing, especially with a live band and a positive atmosphere. I went dancing a couple of days ago and was reminded of how much fun it is and how much I miss it. I love spending quality time with friends, especially time with girlfriends. I also really enjoy networking and being part of a community of people who are driven to contribute to the world and pursue their passions. That’s what I find with the Latinos in Social Media (#LATISM) community, as well as United Latino Professionals (@ULP_National), and the @ELLAInstitute community. The online world and in-person worlds flow seamlessly, and I feel like I’ve only just hit the tip of iceberg and there’s so much more to discover. I believe I’ll be happier if I create more experiences of flow in my life and pay attention to the things that nourish me. 

You’ll be seeing a lot more of me on Twitter and on this blog. Looking forward to talking to you!

One final note: Thanks to everyone who has given me positive feedback and support since I went public with this blog and having Usher Syndrome. It means the world.

 

I’ve been named a #LatinasThinkBig Twitter Ambassador!

”LATINAS

Very exited about supporting the @EllaInstitute with their launch event this Thursday at Barnard College! Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin is one of the women in the public eye that I truly admire. She dedicates her time to uplifting other women and utilizing social media as a positive tool. She founded New Latina, the Latina Leadership Network Facebook group, and now the ELLA Institute. All while working as a psychotherapist and having a family as well. Entrepreneurship, in particular social entrepreneurship, really calls me. I hope that one day I’ll have the opportunity to work for myself while making a meaningful impact on the world. It will be people like Angelica that I will look to for mentorship and guidance.

At Thursday’s launch event, I’ll be attending with a wonderful group of members of United Latino Professionals, a social networking organization for Latinos. I’ve been a member since 2009 and it has been an amazing way to make friends and be active in the city. You can join us on Meetup or Facebook, and we are launching a comprehensive website soon.

The event is sold out. But if you still want to join us, you actually can! It will be livestreamed by Google+.

I’ll be tweeting from @CatarinaRivera. Looking forward to it! It’s always really inspiring to be around women who are go-getters. I’m sure the room will be alive with energy, passion, and new ideas.

Digestion Issues?

 

How To Improve Your Gut Health

Kris Carr breaks it down in an easy to understand way. I love this article!

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How to improve your gut health

March 11, 2013


We’ve all heard the saying, “listen to your gut.” And while that advice often refers to our intuition, it should also speak to our digestion. Your gut guides your overall well-being. Quite literally, your gut is the epicenter of your mental and physical health. Yet it’s all too common to experience lots of digestive issues that make a huge impact on our strength and vitality. If you want better immunity, efficient digestion, improved clarity and balance, focus on rebuilding your gut health.

I know it may seem like there’s always something we could be doing better. And frankly, our quest for getting well can be downright exhausting! Sometimes our health issues can feel so big and daunting. This is especially true when it comes to serious chronic diseases. I remember getting frustrated many times. I thought to myself, for gosh sake, I’m doing everything I can to heal this disease and though I’m grateful it’s still stable, why won’t the sucker just go away? I give up! Then I decided to take it down a notch and focus on healing areas of my life and my body that I actually could control. My digestion had always been really weak. I got colds every year and had a list of health problems stemming from my gut. That’s when the light bulb went off. I decided to forget about cancer and focus my energy on my digestive health instead. Finally, improvements I could see, feel and measure!

By supporting this mighty system, you’ll see chronic health issues (like fatigue, fogginess, colds, aches and pains) diminish, and you’ll feel abundant energy return. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it really isn’t. I’ve experienced these results, and I’ve seen hundreds of readers do the same. Now it’s your turn.

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Continue reading at KrisCarr.com.