Going Back To Cali

Going Back To Cali

When our friend Jibril told us that he was getting married, Rick and I grinned at the thought of having an excuse to visit California again. California is pretty significant to the ever-evolving story of Laura Max and Rick. We kicked off a love affair there in 2014 and got engaged there in 2017. Click here for the full love story and all the juicy details.

Rick and I met at his house in the Bronx after work on Thursday afternoon but this was no ordinary Thursday. Not only were we heading to the airport, but it was also my last day at my 9-5 job. This trip was intended to commemorate our friend and his nuptials as well as celebrate and mark the end of an era working full time in the field of developmental disabilities.

We touched down in LAX on Thursday evening. Well rested from the 6-hour flight, we decided to go out. Rick found a venue from Instagram that looked pretty cool called Apt 503. This venue is only worth mentioning due to it’s avant-garde Alice In Wonderland-like decor, which made for the perfect photo op. Much of the decor was being projected onto the walls, thus making it also great for the optical illusion lover. Dubstep isn’t really my speed so I cannot vouch for it musically, but visually, this venue is on point.

 

On the second day of our trip, I woke up and visited the garden of the Airbnb we were staying. I was all too excited to learn that there were tangerine and lemon trees there and I quickly began to plan what I could do with all this fresh garden goodness. I ended up deciding on a sweet and tangy tangerine-lemonade.

 

Later that day we visited the dispensery. Legalization makes me happy. We bought more than a reasonable amount of product consisting of a carbonated beverage, a sativa, indica and gummies. All this on day 2 of a 4-day trip. What can I say? We love to live in abundance.

 

After I mistakenly put the wrong address into the GPS that put us 45 minutes out of the way of our next stop, we finally found ourselves at the Famous Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.

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The abundance of cannabis and infused treats, of course, led us to be on our asses and we called it a night pretty early. Luckily we had morning hiking plans at Griffith Park and getting a full nights rest was key to getting out of the house by 6am the next day.

 

After our hike, we visited Beverly Hills for some light shopping. I was excited to visit Kyle Richard’s store (from The Beverly Hill’s franchise of The Real Housewives). Rick was excited to visit G-Star where he wound up getting a $200 pair of jeans on sale for $30.

 

Then it was back to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, because why not?

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The next day we celebrated our reason for visiting LA in the first place by attending our friend’s wedding. Both the bride and the groom were dressed in beautiful garbs from the Muslim faith and looked amazing as they vowed their love and commitment for one another.

 

I left early the next morning, thus concluding my brief but memorable trip to LA. As always, I am looking forward to returning. There is always something to new to do in the sunny state of California.

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Simple Summer Salad

Simple Summer Salad

I was shocked to be impressed by this simple recipe for the perfect summer salad!

Torn Romain Lettuce

Diced Pink Lady Apple

Diced Cucumber

Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Mix

& sprinkle your favorite nut (I used a homemade trail mix which had pecans, pistachios and cashews)

It provides such a fresh taste with an array of flavor, from bursts of crisp sweetness from the apple to smokey heat from the black pepper. It was so yummy!

Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Do you have a favorite summer recipe? Share below!

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Laura Max

I asked my readers to submit questions to continue to get to know me. I was thinking I would have to explain my favorite colors or hair products but ya’ll wasted no time getting straight into the deep stuff.

Here we go……

  1. If you were in a fire, and everyone you love was safe, what three items would you grab to save and why? (Question submitted by Jeisson C.)

First of all, I saw This Is Us and realistically I’m not running into any fire to save anything, since my family are all safe…. but hypothetically speaking, I would grab this large plastic bin I have that holds some of my mother’s belongings. There isn’t much in there but it means a lot to me. She was very spiritual, so it has a chanting book, a notebook, and other items that remind me of her and my childhood growing up with the influence of the Ashram. Then I would try to grab as many photo albums as I could. I have tons from high school, way before digital cameras so they feel extra valuable to me. I would have to use my third option to save something that belongs to Jayda, likely Callie, one of her stuffed animals.

 

2. If you had a super power, what would it be and why? (Also submitted by Jeisson C.)

If I could have any super power in my imagination, I would choose the power to change people’s mind. I promise I would only use it for the greater good of humanity, and only for really important issues. Best part about this power is everyone would love my initiatives and no on would disagree because, well, I would change their minds if they did. World hunger, war, racism? All things of the past. I think I would also use this power to help people on a more personal level. You want to go back to school but you’re not sure if you’ll be able to commit and finish? Yes, you can! You want to lose weight but you hate whole grains, vegetables and exercising? BAM! How you like them now? You want to quit your job and move across the country but you’re scared of the unknown? Not anymore!

 

3. How does it feel to control your own paycheck? (Submitted by Cedric F.)

Initially, I felt nervous about this. My earnings are now a direct reflection of my effort. There are no “benefits” in terms of 401K or paid vacation time. However, I feel really motivated by this also. When I work hard, money rolls in and that is an incentive to work harder, if and when money is the goal. When relaxation is the goal, I don’t have to ask anyone for permission. I’m creating a life I don’t need a vacation from anyway, so the responsibility that comes with this control is exciting! Let’s check in on this in a few months though (lol).

 

4. What is a defining moment in your life, other than being a mom and falling in love, that made you a better person? (Submitted by Mario C.)

Don’t you hate when you ask a specific question and the person answers something else? Yeah, sorry about that Mario. I cannot choose one defining moment because I feel like my life has been a culmination of little moments that are all guiding me to wherever it is I am supposed to be. I feel like growing up with spirituality has been a huge factor that’s helped to make me a better person. Falling in love has made me better, but more specifically the man that I have fallen in love with makes me a better person. He holds me accountable for the things I say which makes me a better communicator and more responsible. I know he has high expectations of me which helps me to keep growing. I feel safe knowing that when I fall, he’s there to get back up with me.

 

5. How does it make you feel about pursuing what you love? (Also submitted by Mario C.)

I feel GREATFUL! Greatful that I have the capacity and resources to truly customize my life. I’m sooooo greatful that I have support from my friends and family. I’m 32 years old and I could have sworn my parents opinions didn’t affect me anymore but I realized I was nervous when telling my step-mom about my new career. But after I nervously did, she was so happy and excited for me and it just pushed me further. I take my hat off to people who pursue their dreams despite doubt and criticism. I feel courageous but that is some next level fearlessness.

 

6. Since you’re a birth doula now, what was your own birthing experience with your daughter? (Question submitted by Stephanie L.)

I got pregnant with Jayda when I was 21 years old. I had a very stressful pregnancy, which began with my father asking me to move out, led to the strain of living in my daughter’s father’s family’s house and ended with an emergency cesarean procedure at just 32 weeks. I was completely removed from my body at the time. I didn’t feel my sky high blood pressure. I didn’t ask questions. I wasn’t empowered. I didn’t have one single doctor, but instead many rotating physicians and residents. My birth story was a complete mess. But that mess gives me an interesting perspective when working with my clients. I would never want anyone to experience their births the way I did. On August 15th 2007, Jayda was born 2 lbs 9oz. Tiny as could be but just as strong and healthy. She didn’t have anything to worry about except getting bigger and she stayed in the hospital for her first 5 weeks of life.

 

7. Which self-care practices do you subscribe to? (Question submitted by Nicole P.)

I love. love. love breathing deeply. I even use an app that helps guide deep breathing. It’s called “Calm”. I also love stretching my body, especially my neck and shoulders which is where I carry most of my stress. Warm baths with candle light are also nice. I bought an oil diffuser for my clients but I’ve enjoyed using it for myself as well. Mango and peppermint oils are my favorites so far. Sometimes I need to journal to practice self-care, especially when I’m having a hurricane of thoughts in my head that need organizing and sorting out. I write what’s bothering me, and the solutions. Sometimes the solution is just getting it out of my head and on to paper, and sometimes I need to take action. Either way, writing has been a saving grace for me.

 

Thank you all for your submissions and thank you for being supporters of my blog!

Take Me Higher

Take Me Higher

Do you identify as a stoner?

Do you like to eat delicious food?

Are you into yoga?

Do you enjoy spending time with strong women from all walks of life?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Higher Yoga may be just for you.

Created and run by sisters Shanelly & Roshelly, Higher Yoga is exactly what it sounds like, and then some. A giant cipher among the 15 participants, yummy snacks and food (some of which has been cannabis-infused), an hour of yoga led by a wonderful instructor and goodies to take home.

I smoked before leaving home because I was afraid that a cipher of this magnitude would certainly leave me feeling sober. I was wrong. There was an abundance of weed, food and great vibes for the entire 3-hour event.

The afternoon started by laying out our mats while munching on fruit bowls, bagels,  and enjoying homemade juices. We then began the cipher with a sativa strand. Sativas tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. (Source) We went around the room, introducing ourselves and setting intentions for the week. After checking in with ourselves and each other, the yoga instructional portion began. This was led by Muriel, who eased us into gentle yoga over hip hop beats. After yoga, a hearty brunch, and of course  the next round of marijuana was served. This time Indica, which is a strain believed to be physically sedating and perfect for relaxing. (Source) We ended the afternoon with deep breathing and meditation.

I will definitely be participating in more Higher events and I invite all my New York readers/stoners to check them out and see for your self what all the hype is about.

Their next event is on July 1st, as the sisters celebrate 1 year of their business and it’s sure to be a memorable event of the summer. Use this link to get your tickets.

Higher Yoga and all of the Higher events are nice reminders that if you have an idea for a business venture of your own, there is no better time than now to see your dream to fruition. If you would benefit from the service/class/product, there are countless other like-minded people who would think your idea is dope as well, so go for it!


Check these ladies out on IG//

Shanelly                  Roshelly                  Yogi Muri                    Higher Dining

 

Resigning into Passion

Resigning into Passion

All of the self-improvement and self-actualization that I’ve been actively working on for the past few years would be incomplete and almost insignificant if I didn’t change where and how I spent 40 hours of my life, each week.

Work was feeling like a jail sentence. Mid-way through the day, my mind would begin to wander. I would stare out the window and feel like the little mermaid “I wanna be where the people are.”

8 hours of my day was far too many.

5 days a week seemed unfair.

Commuting for 2-3 hours each day to arrive and want to be somewhere else just didn’t make any sense anymore.

*sigh, eye roll, teeth suck*


When I first began working in the field of developmental disabilities, it was because I was pregnant and I needed a job. Unfortunately, it never turned out to be more than just a paycheck for me.

I cared, I did well, I got promotions, and I now earn double my salary from when I first entered the field almost 11 years ago. I’ve worked alongside tons of great people, many of whom I call friends. I’ve had supervisors and co-workers who gave me the chance to shine and excel in my roles, and I did just that. I witnessed people in this field who were and are fulfilling their own passions and I witnessed far many more, drag themselves to work, to give mediocre effort because their hearts were somewhere else, often in a place that they knew nothing about yet. I usually fell somewhere in between.

Bureaucracy is a buzz kill. Arbitrary deadlines, meetings that should be emails, and paperwork all stood in my way from making an impactful difference, according to what that means to me.

Added responsibilities feel nice. Promotions feel nicer. Raises feel the nicest. But nothing beats passion. So after careful deliberation and planning, I have decided to resign from my position at ADAPT Community Network to pursue my passions of providing doula care, writing, and photography. I also leave the door open to discovering new talents and interests and I’m thrilled to finally have the time and energy to do so.

I’ve never before had the privilege to resign from a position and it was quite frightening to hand that letter to my supervisor… but after the feelings of terror left my body, I felt free!

I am free to spend my time in ways that ignite me and fuel me forward! I am finally working towards fulfilling my own mission statement, instead of someone else’s.

Freedom has its price. Being self-employed means the money that I pull in will be a direct result of my effort. That’s scary for someone who has only ever worked 9-5pm. This is a leap that I am not only willing to make but a leap that is required for my growth.

I have immeasurable memories of employment here. Some make me smile when thinking back and other memories remind me of why this resignation was inevitable and necessary. ADAPT Community Network (formally known as UCP of NYC) offered me invaluable experience that I will carry over as I continue to reinvent myself both professionally and personally and I am extremely grateful for every lesson I’ve received.

I am even more grateful for the opportunity to move on and out!

Farewell, ADAPT!

Hello Passion!

 

New Face, Who Dis?

New Face, Who Dis?

I have struggled with acne since elementary school. When I was younger, I hid my huge pimple riddled forehead under baseball caps. As an adult, I rely on makeup and bangs. I visited with dermatologists when the problem first arose but all I remember from that was getting injections in each pimple and leaving the doctor’s office with a bleeding face… And returning to do it all again… but without any benefits.

As a teenager, I was a regular at my local drug store. I purchased all kinds of washes, toners, masks, serums, moisturizers, and strips. Nothing worked! Plus- As a pathological picker, I only made matters worse.

As I’ve grown older and begun to revisit the natural lifestyle that I grew up with, I started to rely on oils to cure my acne woes.

Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Coconut oil

I was dedicated and convinced that one day one of these oils would get rid of my problem skin. In reality, they just made my face super oily.

Go figure… I’m not sure why that lesson took so long to learn but I gave oils at least a year to do their thing before giving up.

Most recently, I had some leftover money on a benefit card from my employer which could only be used for medical purposes. The idea didn’t come to me on my own, but my fiance suggested that I use the money to give a dermatologist another try. So I did. I was prescribed a medicated wash, a day cream, a night cream, a fading cream for scars and an herbal supplement.

For once in my life I am pleased with the results enough to >gasp< share my before pictures!

Dr. Lodha at Pura Dermatology really delivered! I am now so excited to wash my face and go, only bothering with a bit of mascara if I’m feeling fancy. No more concealer or foundation or any other feeble attempts at covering up.

This change has come just in time for my upcoming wedding and all my other pursuits which require people to look at my face a lot more than ever before. I know that I still have a bit of scarring to resolve but I’m really happy with the results.

When I began my journey into creating a life I love, I didn’t know it would involve my face. The way I perceive myself is a huge determining factor of how I move in the world. It dictates the amount of eye contact I give, which dictates conversation, intimacy, and connections with other people. For me, a clear face is more than looking good in my reflection. It’s about feeling good and confident and being more open in relationships both old and new.

 

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January 2018

 

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March 2018

 

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May 2018

New face, who dis?

Me & Mine

Me & Mine

In the summer of 2016, I was preparing to go on a shopping trip at BJ’s with a coworker for our Fourth of July BBQ.

Let’s call her L.

As we exited the company vehicle in the parking lot, she shared with me that she was sensing a female presence from the afterlife. It wasn’t until this moment that I knew my coworker was a Medium.

I’m skeptical of all things mystical. I believe that too often fraudulent people claim false abilities and prey on others who are in vulnerable or emotional positions.

But I didn’t ask for this contact. It was being presented to me.

We began discussing some of her other experiences in communicating with those who have passed on. She told me countless stories of their interactions while she was in museums, or near grave sites, where the dead often linger. We discussed high profile unsolved cases of which she was sure she knew the answers due to her abilities. L told me of how she never charges anyone to enlist her help. This put my mind at ease a bit and helped me to trust her more.

After telling L of those nearest to me who have died, she assumed the woman who was joining our shopping trip was either my mother or my grandmother. I clung to the idea of my mother trying to communicate with me and I needed to know more. I hadn’t after all, seen her since I was 8 when breast cancer put an end to her life.

BJ’s was too loud, L said. We should reconnect another time and do this in a setting where she could concentrate better and work at her full capacity. L was also moving across the country the following month. The clock was working against us.

The day before moving, in between her last minute errands, my fiance and I met with L in a park in the Bronx. We sat down at a bench amidst all the sounds of passing trains and traffic and the normal distractions of the boogie down. The setting was still not ideal but it would have to do.

We sat and I was asked to lead….. What questions did I have?

Shit. I wasn’t prepared.

I didn’t have any questions to ask, so L took over sharing with me things that my mother was sharing with her: Paint Jayda’s room pink and keep her into music- Jayda hates pink but loves to sing and plays the violin. My father was the love of her life- good to know. Name my next child Josephine- we’re hoping for a boy, but OK.Put her photograph back up on the wall- I had recently painted the walls in the room where my mother’s photo was hanging and hadn’t put her picture back up yet. This particular detail of our meeting intrigued me the most.

Before we parted ways, L told me that, my mother was hugging me and to expect a dream with her soon. I felt nothing and I so desperately want to feel my mother’s embrace. I was somewhat disappointed and confused by what was revealed to me as some of it had significance but not all of it.

When I returned home that evening, while looking through old pictures I saw and then remembered that the living room I grew up in with my mother, was pink. Was L really on to something here?

That day, I didn’t have any questions, but since that day I have many. Meeting with L prompted a drive in me to learn more about mother. Whether or not the encounter was truly authentic, I’ll never know but the consequent events have changed my life and that’s for sure. I decided to begin a research project by interviewing people who knew and loved my mother.

I first interviewed my mother’s childhood friend who is also my God Mother. Then I interviewed my dad, who was my mother’s ex-husband. Thirdly, I interviewed a close friend from my mother’s adulthood. I’m learning so much that I never knew I never knew!

I’m no longer afraid to confront my emotions while hearing the stories of a woman I barely got to know.  I’m excited to continue this project and I still have several more interviews to conduct. I don’t know what all will come of this. Blog posts? A book? We’ll see what I’m inspired to do once the research phase ends.

My mother lived in Italy for many years, pursuing her passion for acting and this August I will be visiting Italy for the first time so as you may imagine this trip holds great significance for me.

When my mother passed away, many including myself thought that I handled it well because I didn’t speak about it much but there are simply no words to match the pain in a little girl who loses her mother. This pain is now transforming into intrigue and appreciation…. stay tuned.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mommies and mother-figures, here and beyond

And I would like to wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to my own…

Yvonne Southerland

Yvonne Holder

Baci

Vonny

Mommy

(Baci is an Italian word which means Kisses and is pronounced “Bah-chee”)