Wednesday, January 17, 2018

That Time I met the Dalai Lama

The unexpected happened and all of a sudden I found myself in Longbeach, California in May of 2011. There I was ready to meet the Dalai Lama, in person. Wow! It was a feeling I could not even begin to express. For a man that represents so much peace in the world was just such an honor and privilege for me. I was chosen to be part of such an amazing moment in history through Amnesty International. That day I realized that life is what you make of it and also that it is not possible to change anyone and give them of yourself when it is something the do not seek or prioritize in their life. Why that thought came to me as I prepared to meet the Dalai Lama was inconsequential, but there it was. All of a sudden I realized that there is no point in trying to change anyone or giving them something you think they "need" for they are making their own choices, and feeling their own feelings. Compassion means allowance and acceptance of someone as they are.

On that day, the moment the Dalai Lama stepped into the room, it was as if a greater consciousness had made an appearance. An immense sense of peace filled the room and also a sense of serenity and happiness. I knew not what he would say to us, but as I stood there listening to him speak, his words filled the room with lightheartedness and laughter as he made jokes about all things. A pleasant smile, a peaceful soul and a being on a mission to create awareness and love in this world. 

I am forever grateful for having met his holiness the Dalai Lama and will carry the experience with me for all the days of my life.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Love is Freedom

This is one of my favorite parables as applied to love and relationships. I believe it to be a very powerful message of trust and genuine love. I am sharing the message as posted on the blog of Paulo Coehlo, one of my all time favorite authors. It is from his book Eleven Minutes.

Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colorful, marvelous feathers. 

One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him. She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two travelled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird. But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains! And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird. 

And she thought: “I’m going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again.”

The bird, who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.

She looked at the bird every day. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: “Now you have everything you could possibly want.” 
However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest. 
The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.
One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him. But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.
If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realized that what had thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body.
Without the bird, her life too lost all meaning, and Death came knocking at her door.

“Why have you come?” she asked Death.

“So that you can fly once more with him across the sky,” Death replied.

“If you had allowed him to come and go, you would have loved and admired him ever more; alas, you now need me in order to find him again.”

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Day I Decided to Quit Law School

After more than five years of working as a paralegal, one day, I decided to go to law school. I did not know how I was going to do it or what I had to do to make this happen, all I knew is that I was going to take a leap of faith and jump! As I began the journey in Fall of 2012, there were many times, I felt defeated, devastated, exhausted, and unable to give anymore of myself, yet somehow I persevered. The most memorable moment was the day I decided to quit law school. I had started attending law school in a part time evening program that would allow me to continue to work full time. My week days consisted of waking up at 6am everyday, dressing and preparing my three boys  ages, 12, 9 and 6 for school everyday. Later, the commute to downtown Miami to my full time job as a paralegal in a boutique law firm would follow. My schedule was from 9am through 5pm. Thereafter I would drive North 30 miles into a neighboring county to attend law school from 6pm to 10pm at night. I would then return home only to begin again. During one of these days, I was at the end of my rope. I felt I could no longer give anymore of myself. I was empty, tired, overextended in every way possible. On this night, I decided to quit law school. I drove home in tears, devastated to be in this position and to feel this way. What was I doing with my life? Taking time from my kids and family, taking out student loans to pay for law school, wasting needed resources and feeling drained everyday of my life. It no longer made sense to continue in this path. Drowning in tears and driving through the dark highway, I came to peace with this decision. It was ok to fail and quit law school as it would have been worse to not have tried at all.

What happened in the next moments was unexpected. As I  arrived home in tears and bid farewell to the babysitter watching my boys that night, I lay down my purse and heavy books, took off my heels and walked into my room, finally at peace, away from the noise of the world. I was perplexed as I looked at the wall next to my bed. There were various pieces of paper on the wall with writing on them. Confused as to what this could be, I looked closer. What I found brought even more tears to my eyes, but strength to my soul. The wall was filled with writings by my 9 year old son, middle child. The first writing said “Be the Change  you with to be – Gahndi.” The second writing said “Heros are Not Forgotten Legends never Die – Babe Ruth.” The last piece of paper was a list of goals I had written myself. The last goal written on the bottom of that list was “Finish law school.” There was something different about this list, at the bottom there was an added message from my son, which read “Keep Going MA, love You From: Chris J.” The tears took over and there I was overwhelmed with emotion. The day I had made up my mind to quit and move on from law school, was the day I was faced with this message to keep on keeping on. There was no doubt in my mind that this message was heaven sent from greater powers. What would compel a nine year old to paste writings on a wall for his mom on that very day? Only a greater power could do that. In that moment, I knew that despite the turmoil, despite the exhaustion, I had to keep going, keep going to fulfill my purpose and end goal and that is what I did. Today, I am a practicing attorney, and I owe it in great part to my son.

The writings from my son. I will cherish these always and forever for they made me who I am today and continue to become. 
As a way of giving back and helping single moms in this same position, this New Year, we are launching the "Moms in Law School Program" campaign through the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Children First Foundation USA, to provide scholarships to single moms in Florida law schools to help pay for tuition, books, living expenses, and child care. The application period will open in August 2018 and awards will be made by a selection committee in January 2019. Make a DONATION by clicking here.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

France in Miami: Delices de France

Take a drive to the area of Palmetto Bay where you will find an unsuspecting French Bakery in a modest strip mall.

You may or may have not heard of Delices de France. This is my favorite French Boulangerie in Miami. Boulangerie means a bakery that specializes in baking and selling bread. They are also a patisserie and cafe. A patisserie is a place where French pastries and cakes are sold. The bakery is a little piece of authentic France in the outskirts of Miami. I have yet to find a bakery that compares to Delices de France anywhere in Miami. I have to say it is even better than some of the boulangeries and patisseries I have visited in France. Everything is high quality, fresh and utterly delicious! Even the least popular food item will taste good. 

You will usually find a line in the mornings as a testimony to the amazing croissants, sandwiches, pastries, desserts and coffee they sell. Here are some of my favorite things which I highly recommend:

1. Dalmations - These are mini croissants that melt in your mouth. A regular croissant with black seeds with a moist center coated with a sweet sugary clear glaze.

2. Almond Croissant - This croissant has a nice moist center that is filled with a rich almond paste and sprinkled with white powdered sugar. It is also available as a mini croissant.

3. Panomelette - This is a simple egg sandwich that is not on the menu. It is plain eggs in a circular shape as a small omelette on fresh bread. This item usually sells out in the mornings. Make sure to get there early if you would like to try this.

4. Chocolate Mousse - The mini chocolate mousse is spectacular. It is a scrumptious and delectable chocolate mousse encapsulated by a chocolate dome with a spongy layer cake on the bottom. This is also available in large cake sizes. 

5. Mozzarella Platter - This is fresh mozzarella served with Roma tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, basil and a roll.

6. Mochaccinno - This is a capuccino with Belgian chocolate that is melted into the coffee. You can choose soy milk and almond milk in lieu of regular milk.

7. Noisette - The traditional coffee with cream just as in France is also available and it is delicious. Much like a Miami cortadito, but with a French twist. Instead of milk, cream is used and mixed with the coffee.

They have many croissants and pastries to choose from. They also have amazing holiday logs and cakes available. If you want to impress at your holiday party, be sure to buy a dessert from here!


They are located at 14453 South Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33176. Their hours are Monday thru Friday from 7am - 6pm and from 7am to 2pm on Saturday and Sunday. Be sure to pay them a visit. You will not regret it!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

O’Bistrot de Tom: Mingle and Eat Among Locals in Paris

Take a stroll from the Champs Elysees, through the Jardins du Champs Elysees, to the Grand Palais and and you will stumble upon O'Bistrot de Tom, located at 59 rue d'Anjou 75008 Paris. This bistro is in a local neighborhood and a good distance from touristy restaurants. It offers a great ambience, positive vibes, a low key bar and amazing food. As soon as you sit down, they will offer the menu, water and a small bowl of peanuts and pretzels. 

The menu has a wonderful variety of foods. A great selection of salads, appetizers, main entrees, wines and desserts. Pictured here is the Chèvre Chaud (Warm Goat Cheese) listed under the Appetizers section "Pour Commencer."

The cozy bar is a great place to mingle among locals. The dishes are authentic French cuisine with a great variety and reasonable prices. Excellent and delicious flavors mixed with the Parisian vibe. The service is also excellent. 

A must visit if you are in Paris! Here are some more photos.

That Time I met the Dalai Lama

The unexpected happened and all of a sudden I found myself in Longbeach, California in May of 2011. There I was ready to meet the Dalai Lam...