2017 Goals – Part I

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to work on reflecting on 2016 and take some time to come up with goals for 2017.  Well, I haven’t completed my list of goals yet as I often make a list for myself, my family, my blog, and my job.  Today, I’m sharing with you a few of the goals that I think you might want to read about in part I of this series.


Goal #1:  Workout

In the latter part of 2016, I realized that I stopped working out and stopped eating healthy. It was inadvertent really.  I just got so busy with life and prioritized other things, and not my health.  So in 2017, I decided to reprioritize it!  Everyday, I’m doing 20 pushups, at least 30 squats, a 1-minute plank, and if able either a 20 walk/run at maximum inclination on my treadmill or the 7-minute workout app.  So far so good!!  I managed to get in a quick workout today, amidst cleaning, working, mothering, wife-ing, hosting, etc.  It was fast, painful, but oh so rewarding!  The one thing that has always been my saving grace while walking/running on the treadmill is this SureShelf.  If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it!!  Found here.


2.  If able, do things immediately.  

One of my greatest flaws, I think, is that I tend to over-think and over-analyze things.  2017 is hopefully going to be the year of action.  Don’t over think.  Just do.  Today, for example, I was tasked with doing something that I had to send to someone, and while my immediate thought was “I’ll do it later tonight”, my second thought was “well, what if I just knock it out quickly??”  So I did.  Admittedly, it wasn’t as detailed or perfect as I would have wanted it to be, BUT, it was done.  And honestly, if I had left it for “later” I might have botched the job anyway trying to hurry and get it out to meet the deadline, so this might be a better approach over all!  Here’s me working while hubby is snapping pictures of my not-so-chic-and-definitely-not-fashionable Sunday morning work wear.  Clearly I’m focused and getting down to business, lol! Below is me is taking a work break and working on some blog stuff.  Because that too is a priority for 2017!  Yay, that means more blog posts!  Hopefully. 🙂  Btw, the lap desk below is amazing for those of us who like to work on the couch or while sitting on the floor.  Keeps your computer from over-heating!!  Find one like mine here.  Similar mug found here.



3.  Have more fun!

Hubby says that I am in 24-7 work and mom mode.  It’s hard for me to shut off my type-A-ness and let loose a bit.  So, this year, I’m taking more opportunities to have fun and include things in life that will enable me to do so!  One thing I did NOT plan on, but that promises to make me include more “fun” in my life in 2017, is the fact that nutrition expert extraordinaire and founder of The Nutritious Bite is my new next door neighbor!!  I CANNOT explain how excited I am about this!! I shared the story on Instagram and Facebook, so make sure to pop on over there to read about what happened.  IT IS WILD!!!  Here we are – in our pj’s – the day we found out we were next door neighbors!!  The second photo is of me in full-winter wear after my neighbors invited me to go out for a fall in the wintery weather we had a couple days ago.  Yay for getting out and about with friends!



4.  Save the planet!

More and more we hear about the polar caps melting, strange weather patterns, and a variety of other oddities that scientists are attributing to global warming.  Believe it or not, humans are contributing to global warming in a major way.  Although not a major impact, using my platform on social media for good is one way I think I can help.  Starting at home with recycling, trying to reduce waste, is one way I plan to try to help, and of course, sharing that on social media as a reminder to others.  So remember, recycle, reuse, reduce!


5.  Practice more self care.

I have been SO bad at this.  OMG.  But, 2017 will hopefully be different.  I have a stressful week ahead this week with the start of the spring semester, two brand new courses I’m teaching, and loads of other academic responsibilities.  BUT, one way I plan to de-stress is to do more things that put my mind at ease!  Pretty, frivolous are good at helping me achieve that!  So this week I’m trying out new make up and a pair of new shoes!  Yay for fashion and beauty products!


The shoes are the Etta style from JCrew, found on eBay.  Similar ones can be found here, here, and here.  Rodial products can be found here.

So, what are some of your goals for 2017??  Would love to have you share some with me in the comments section below!  I definitely need some inspiration!!  Otherwise, hope everyone is having an amazing start to the new year!

Until next time!  Stay ‘Chic’!



5 Lessons Learned in 2016


I’ve read AND heard a lot of chatter about 2016 these past couple of months.  Let’s face it; the latter half of 2016 was a bit of a shocker.  Lots of unexpected events for sure!  That said, I wouldn’t say that 2016 was all bad.  Personally, 2016 has proven to be…pretty awesome!

Each year, I find that I grow in ways never before imagined, and I also learn more about myself than ever before.  5 things I’ve learned about myself this year:

  1. If I put my mind to it, I will achieve it.  Career-wise, my goal for 2016 get 15 publications.  I managed 11.  Which is the same number I published last year.  This past week, I was immensely disappointed that I didn’t make my goal, but you know what?  I also managed to get a big grant funded, another that may get funded, and collaborated on a center grant and R01.  On top of that, I prepped for two courses in winter/spring of 2017, and spent three weeks in SF intensely training in implementation science.  Now that I put that all down in writing, I feel quite productive, actually!  Blog-wise, my goal for 2016 was to appear in a magazine.  A small mention in a magazine was my goal.  Well, I’m so excited to say I blew that one out of the water!  I cannot believe I managed to get on the cover of Redbook Magazine!!! The fact that it happened still boggles my mind.  FB_IMG_1471044495614
  2. I am strong of mind.  I’ve always sort of known that.  My willpower is pretty amazing. Sadly I’ve learned that this often means my strength of mind will sometimes result in a weakness of body and health.  This past week, I ended up in the ER with symptoms of stroke!!  I’d had headaches for two weeks (rare for someone who rarely gets headaches) and suddenly, the left side of my tongue was numb and tingly.  It was the scariest *ish I’ve experienced in a while. 😦  Docs think the headaches were stress/anxiety induced.  Imagine that!  I didn’t even know I was stressed!!  I did know I was feeling a little overwhelmed, but didn’t realize the toll it was taking on my body.  For months, I was working 7 days a week, especially while writing grants, and even after while trying to catch up with manuscripts.  Sigh.  So, I’m taking this to heart and hoping I remember this episode as I progress into 2017 so that history does not repeat itself! quickmemo_2016-01-04-23-56-58-1.png.png
  3. My family means everything.  When you feel like you are on the verge of a major health event, things often come into perspective.  When I was at the ER I thought to myself, what if something bad is happening to me???  Are my finances in order?  Is my home organized?  Have I prepared the kids for life without a mom?  So many questions!!  It’s really made me appreciate the fact that I’ve prioritized my kids over my work and the blog.  Hubby will disagree, haha, as he always feels like he’s at the bottom of my totem pole, but I’ve also tried to prioritize him as well.  In my own, small ways.  As a result, we have enjoyed some very special moments this year, including a quick getaway to SF this past summer while I was there for work! He may think that he is at the bottom of my totem pole, but the bottom is the foundation – the stronghold – of the totem pole, and that he is.  He is my biggest fan, my biggest source of support, and ultimately my rock!  I love my family!13697280_10209960428432157_2833473835229620693_n.jpg
  4. Clutter stresses me out.  My life is SOOOOOOO crazy busy these days, that organization is an absolute must to get through hectic days efficiently.  I learned this lesson the hard way this year.  Holiday breaks are often a time for me to get organized, so I took advantage this week and called America’s Thrift Store to come pick up a huge load of stuff that was simply non-essential.  I also managed to sell some things to a local consignment store, but otherwise, I donated it all without looking back.  It actually feels really good!!  My goal for 2016 was to declutter, so it looks like so far so good!  I even managed to declutter the kids’ today and was also able to implement an organization system for their toys. At work, I think about categorizing data; at home, I think about categorizing toys, lol! 1229162046_hdr.jpg
  5. I NEED alone/down time.  Usually a few days, actually.  Every year, hubby takes the boys to visit his family out of state.  I usually take the first 2-3 days to completely decompress.  I see 0 people for several days.  I eat occasionally, nap a lot, and watch the TV shows I want to watch.  Not just PJ Masks and Disney movies because that’s what the boys want to watch, lol.  This year I didn’t get that week because we had our kitchen under construction.  Yes, I know our kitchen is under construction now, but that story is way too long to get into here.  So, just know that our kitchen was under construction and I got very little time to decompress.  So, I was exhausted when the fall semester began!  I didn’t get organized, my house was a mess, and therefore, so felt my life.  Although I haven’t necessarily gotten much alone time this holiday break (impossible with two VERY energetic boys under 7), I did get lots of down time and I feel like myself again!  I feel mostly prepared for 2017, and really that is all I can ask for given my circumstances. 🙂  Here’s a great article about the importance of alone time, if you have some time to read it! Of course, sometimes, when given alone time, I often end up at the stores shopping….soooooo, maybe it’s a good thing I don’t get alone time TOO often, haha!20161203_172109.jpg

I haven’t come up with goals for 2017 yet.  I often come up with them the first week of the year, and often after having analyzed outcomes of 2016.  That is, what worked, what didn’t, what I haven’t tried, etc.  In preparation, I have pinned some graphics on Pinterest that I think will help.  Find them here, here, and here.  So with that, I leave you, friends! Last post of 2016, and geared up for some exciting content in 2017.  Hope you will come along for the ride!  Thanks for all your support thus far and for continuing to enable my sartorial and other adventures!!

I wish you all a Happy New Year and an amazingly productive, healthy, loving, successful 2017!!! xo

Until next time!  Stay ‘Chic’!


This post is a collaboration with The College Board, however, all opinions expressed are my own.



Once upon a time, I was young and getting ready to graduate high school.  As a first generation high school graduate, college was something my parents and extended family knew little to nothing about.  I’m grateful for counselors, teachers, and others who helped guide me.  I did not get a full-ride to college; that is, I didn’t get a scholarship that covered 100% of my tuition and expenses.  Thus, I relied on federal aid, financial assistance and other scholarships to get me through.


Cue, the FAFSA.  FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  It is a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.  Here are a few facts about the FAFSA that you might want to consider:

  • To learn more about paying for college, including finding scholarships,visit  BigFuture or download the CollegeGo app. Students can use BigFuture to search for and compare collegesfind scholarships, understand financial aid, navigate the college application process from start to finish, and receive personalized deadline reminders, tips, and guidance along the way. The CollegeGo mobile app guides students through the essential steps in the college application process with an interactive interface that uses game, video, and search features to help students plan their college journeys. Perfectly efficient and user friendly!!
  • Completing and submitting the FAFSA®is free and quick, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.  In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA data to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
  • If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid! We’ve heard a number of reasons students think they shouldn’t complete the FAFSA. Here are a few:
    • “I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
    • “Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
    • “The FAFSA is too hard to fill out.”
    • “I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”
  • If you think any of these statements apply to you, then you should read Myths About Financial Aid. The reality is, EVERYONE who’s getting ready to go to college or career school should fill out the FAFSA!
  • The 2017–18 FAFSA has been available since Oct. 1, 2016. There are different deadlines for different programs though, so make sure to check the website for more information: https://fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines.htm
  • There are several ways to file:
    • Online at fafsa.gov is faster and easier than using paper.
    • If you need a paper FAFSA, you can
      • download a PDF FAFSA or
      • order a print-out of the PDF FAFSA by calling 1-877-4-ED-PUBS (1-877-433-7827).
    • Ask the financial aid office at your college or career school if you can file it there. Some schools will use special software to submit your FAFSA for you.
  • Applying isn’t the last step; your FAFSA has to be processed, and then you get Student Aid Report (SAR), which is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. . Find out more about what happens after you fill out the FAFSA, including how aid is calculated and when and how your aid will be paid out.


Some people are very loan-averse.  As a daughter or two Mexican immigrants, convincing my parents that getting financial aid was a good idea was a hard thing to do.  In fact, it took the admissions officer at Stanford University to get on the phone with my dad and convince him that between the aid the school would give me and little bit that I would borrow, that I would actually be okay!  Granted, it took years to pay that money back.  BUT, I wouldn’t trade my education for the world, and truly believe that I am better for having received that aid than not having attended Stanford for college.

I filled out a second FAFSA when I applied for graduate school, and some years later, I am a PhD, MPH, and have a bachelors from one of the US’s most elite schools.


If you’re like me or know someone like me, share this information with them.  Also, to learn more about paying for college, including finding scholarships visit the College Board or download the  BigFuture app.   The College Board has also created Spanish language resources for parents and families to help their children plan for college.

Finally, if you have any questions that you can’t find on the website, or simple want a third party to discuss your situation with, feel free to email me!  I’m always happy to help rising academic superstars reach their full potential.  Remember, money should not be the main obstacle keeping you from realizing your academic dreams.  There is always a way to make it work.

Good luck!!

Until next time!  Stay ‘Chic’!