Explorer, Uncategorized

Cocktail Parlours and Honey Bears

I had been dying to head over to Bitter and Twisted in Phoenix, AZ. More specifically, I wanted to try their most popular drink of the month, Bear Witness. This aesthetically pleasing drink is a mix of Kikori Whiskey, fresh grapefruit, lemon, yuzu marmalade, pink peppercorn honey syrup, garnished with Dill. Super refreshing and cute! However, I totally found myself dying with how strong the whiskey flavor was despite having such amazing, fresh ingredients. Bitter & Twisted has an impeccable ambiance. A giant red drape at the entrance, concrete walls, and huge Bitter & Twisted poster of a pin up type girl. We sat on red leather upholstered couches and enjoyed our drinks next to a candlelight table. Bear Witness will run you about $10, which is descent when comparing to LA drink prices. I would recommend this bar if you’re looking for a chill night out with some interesting drinks.


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Academic, Uncategorized


It’s funny how graduation always seems to land on or near my birthday. This year I got to celebrate my achievements, earning a Masters of Science in Justice Studies, and also my 24th birthday.

First, I am very thankful. Thankful for my parents who continue to support my dreams and who deal with my attitude problem and my lack of emotional intelligence. I am also thankful for friends and family who show their support. I was fortunate enough to have five close friends attend my celebration festivities. From ceremonies to my party, they were all there for these special moments. It is important to acknowledge those who support us, and those who are willing to be there for us for special moments like these.

My graduation ceremony was anti-climatic. My morning jitters quickly faded away as I took my seat at the Wells Fargo arena without any of my classmates. I opted for Hispanic Convocation, foregoing the “traditional” ceremonies hosted by predominantly White administrators. I get my traditional sash, Mexican woven patterns like everyone else and feel comforted by the familiar sea of skin tones surrounding me at the staidum. I sit, listen to the speakers, and awkwardly wave at my family. I’m really just waiting to walk the stage to quickly get out of there. I’m texting my friends the whole time. Graduate students go first, so I didn’t have to wait a long time for the moment to be over. I walk up the ramp, one of the staff members checking every graduate to make sure our hair is placed just right, and made my way up the path. A girl scans my card so that the hosts can read my speech, which says nothing personal besides “Natalie Santizo, Masters of Science in Justice Studies). My family is already yelling at me for that one. But in all honesty, I’ve never enjoyed graduation ceremonies. I understand it is a symbolic experience for the years of cultivating success. This ceremony represents the two years of hard work, sacrifice, sleepless nights of finals, and all the intellectual work I developed. I know its value to working parents and immigrant parents, to see their hard work and sacrifices be acknowledged in an established institution, in a special moment where they see their child walk across the stage, and officially be an MBA, MS, MSW, etc… But at the same time, it is these institutions that hurt people of color, that create barriers for people of color…

I guess I’ve never really liked graduations for many reasons. I dislike formalities. I dislike having to prove a point in a symbolic, overly exaggerated fashion. Wearing cap and gown reminds me of another formality I must adjust to, another way I should dress, according to White patriarchy. Graduations remind me once again about segregation, about racism, about the thousands of people who did not have the opportunity to walk across the stage with me. I sometimes question my work in academia because how does one really, truly create work within a system that wasn’t build for people of color? That give less opportunity to economically disadvantaged students of color? Is it fair to claim you are a justice seeker when you work within these institutional spaces? Should our work be community driven, and socially activist rich? These thoughts are the same thoughts that pound through my mind several times a day and that keep me awake at night. These thoughts add to my questioning of institutions and the unhappiness I feel when graduation ceremonies approach.

Trying to not let my thoughts control my emotions, I decided to enjoy my party. After the ceremony I spent a couple of hours getting everything ready for my party. Champagne and pizza balloons, golden everything, small photo booth, bottles of champagne later, my party was set up and ready for all my guests. All my L.A friends were there with me during set up, so we only waited for a few people to arrive. Everyone started drinking and we waited for the pizza bar to be set up. The pizzas were HUGE! I had never seen such big slices in my life! It was great. My family ended up leaving the party a little later in the evening, which left the young group to party. We went out in Old Town and continued the celebrations, waiting for midnight so that I could officially celebrate my birthday. We ended up getting home rather early and woke up late.

Sunday rolled by and we got up to have late breakfast at Lolos, a local fried chicken spot. Almost like Roscoes, but with better decor and ambiance. We ate, went back to Willie’s apartment, and from there my family hit the road back to CA. My friends and I hung out for a couple of hours, some napped, some tanned, and then we all hopped in the car to go play soccer at the Scottsdale Community College field. We worked out, had fun, and Schmitty was exercising with everyone. We ended the night getting wine at the grocery store and ordering pizza in, falling asleep to a scary movie. Before I woke up, my friends were already gone. They took an uber to the airport.

Graduation and birthday celebrations reminded me how I am surrounded by some amazing human beings. I have a network of supportive, fun, loving, and ambitious friends who are there for me and will always be there for me 🙂 Sometimes I get caught up with the bits and pieces that life throws at me and I forget all the good I have in my life. Don’t let the negative things get to you and remember who you are, and appreciate the small memories you make with loved ones.





What is your purpose in life?

Growing up, children and teens are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As I continued to think about this question throughout my teen years and into college, I realized this question has so much more to do with status than with children choosing a career path. This question is embedded in status, hierarchy, class, race, and gender roles… A mere “What do you want to be” is a simple gesture rooted in judgment. It is through this question and through this process that parents criticize other children and begin to emphasize performance, status, and elitism. Parents attempt to sway children and teens into certain careers and fields, typically the ones that make more money. And rightfully, we want our children and teens to succeed. But how are we measuring success?

We want each and every generation to be brighter, to learn more, to better understand and obtain what their parents did not have. But with what ideals? Or better yet whom’s ideals? As a student and researcher, I have constantly struggled with the judgments, ideas, and misconceptions of adults and even peers on my “career choice.” From the questions on how many years of school, to what do you do, I have learned to respond in a certain way that leaves me with less questions and more respect. But on the same note, why do I need to answer to people anyway and why does it seem to bother people?

As I continue to reflect, I realize that it isn’t so much about my goal of being a professor, but my perspective on school, academia, and my future. I have never seen my career goal as a job. I have never tried to speak on what my goals are in a way where what I do is objectified and classified as a certain occupation. Because, well, it is so much more than that. It is my purpose. We all try to seek happiness. The question millennials are often faced with is, How do I find happiness? But we’re asking the wrong questions. We should be asking: what are you going to do to find happiness within yourself? Similarly, we shouldn’t ask our children and teens what they want to be when they grow up, but what their purpose will be in this life, in this world. I mention happiness because it is closely tied to purpose. When I discovered my purpose, I felt a genuine happiness in my body. But it wasn’t easy getting there. I had to break down and unlearn thoughts, classifications, ideals, and social rules that barred me from seeing my own success and worth that I now have begun to develop. My craft, research, is difficult. At times, I feel like giving up. But because I know my purpose in life: To help students of color create their own research, engage with academia, and give people of color a voice by any means possible, I know I can succeed. My purpose involves a lot of time, effort, and belief, but the biggest barrier I had to overcome was my own mind… The way my mind conceptualized success, purpose, careers, money, and growth at a young age. When I began challenging these ideals instilled to me throughout school, via institutions, I realized that I could do anything.

The youth of our generation need to learn this while they are still young. Don’t ask them what they want to be, ask them what their purpose will be. Let their purpose, their mind, freely guide them to success. Don’t ask them a question that is secretly loaded with plaguing notions of elitism, money, and status. People who have purpose and know their purpose, will find their path. With hard work, they will find a career and craft that they will love and prosper through. It’s time for us to re-envision careers, and begin to value purpose.


2016: A Year of Awareness

The ringing in of a new year often brings new desires, goals, dedications, and hobbies. These tend to include gym goals, picking up a de-stressing activity… simply improving our current state. What better time to start than the beginning of a new year? I often see posts and comments belittling people who want to try going to the gym, or who start new hobbies or begin with new outlooks. But why belittle someone who is trying to work on themselves? As humans we share the common experience of living, of aspiring to be better, do better, and live better. It does not matter if that means creating a new year’s resolution. It does not matter when it takes place. We should support one another and encourage self development. On that note, I encourage you to start your new year with an intention and a mantra.

I am calling 2016 my year of awareness. In order to achieve happiness, we must understand true awareness and our true self. Happiness is not something that we should aspire to, but something we come to understand is within ourselves. Constantly searching for happiness already instills the idea that happiness is outside of ourselves. In reality, happiness is contained in each of our bodies, each of our souls… We radiate happiness within us and to the outside world. Sometimes, it just gets lost within ourselves.

Awareness is knowing this. Awareness is understanding that happiness is real, it exists, and it exists within ourselves. Do not look to material things, to others, and to outside elements to bring you happiness. Remember, we carry happiness within ourselves, it just may take us a while to find it within us.

I want to focus on awareness this year because it will help me discover the inner light of happiness that sometimes dims within me. I want to be aware of my actions, attitudes, and perspectives. I want to reflect on my actions in order to treat people better. I want to reflect on my actions in order to be better. I want to reflect on my actions in order to better understand myself. By being aware, I am close to understanding and accepting the happiness within myself. When I understand my happiness, I can help others understand their happiness as well. We must be okay with ourselves in order to help others.

Ring in the new year with a positive intention, and follow through with a mantra. My mantra is: I am truly alive when I am truly aware. First, develop your 2016 intention. What do you want to accomplish? Is there something in particular you want to work on? What do you want to improve on? You can choose a specific goal, or think about something more broad, such as understanding happiness. Once you decide your intention, follow through with a mantra. This will help you reinforce your goal and reflect on it. If your goal is understanding happiness, your mantra might be: I radiate light, happiness is within me. Use this mantra for meditation and daily reflection. Use it as a guide for daily journal reflection. I hope this helps!


Natural Face and Skin Products

The Balm & Co

Alex Elle is probably my favorite writer. She has two independently published books, about love of course. She started her projects after dealing with heartache and depression, eventually growing a successful entrepreneurship venture in jewelry making, journal making, and now natural facial and skin products. What I find inspiring about her is that everything she does, she does with purpose. Her books expose us to the realities of love and heartache, but also encourage us to look beyond that moment. She pushes people to believe in themselves through the power of words. Further developing that push, she recently launched a set of journals that encourage reflection and well being in our lives, closely relating to love. She connects the daily journal entries to the lunar calendar, which is dope as hell. But today I want to talk about her face & skin products.

As soon as I heard she would be launching this project along with her daughter, I knew I had to make a purchase. It’s comforting knowing that she is a vegan, and is very in tune with using all natural products and consuming conscious food. I have tried the following products:

  • Citrus ginger lip balm (orange butter, GMO free soy wax, sweet almond oil, ginger essential oil)
    • The citrus ginger lip balm is my favorite of all the lip balms! It smells great. Don’t be scared when you hear “ginger.” It is by no means strong, more of a subtle hint of ginger. I love this lip balm because its so soothing. It really feels like the most moisturizing lip balm I have every tried. It’s most likely due to the fact that she doesn’t use petroleum jelly to create the balm, but actual butter.

lip balm

  • Tea oil (jasmine green tea peals, chamomile, black pepper, lemon)
    • This tea oil smells very earthly. You can definitely sense the subtle black pepper combined with the green tea, chamomile, and lemon. I love using it on my face after showers. It serves as a moisturizer replacement. But you can use it for massages, back pain, joint pain, and muscle relaxation.

tea tree

I would definitely recommend this product line. She has an array of products and selection 🙂



Working on Your Happiness: Understanding the Law of Attraction

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I stumbled along this chart on Pinterest, via shelleyhobbs.com

You are in control of your life.

Something we all struggle with is letting negative things affect our thoughts, actions, and decisions. Not only does it affect our inner psyche, but it also affects our body. Do you start jerking your leg nervously, do you start feeling sick, does the stress give you a headache? Whatever the situation is, whether its relationship problems, work problems, or an argument with a friend, we have to step back and understand where these feelings come from.

I’m sure you have heard of Newton’s Law of Attraction. In congruence with that, the third law of motion states “for every action there is a reaction.” What does that tell us? The way you behave and act after a negative situation has a consequence. So what? Is that person gonna do something horrible to me?! NO. What I interpret that law to tell us, is that you should heed with warning. If you are going to act negative, sad, or angry because of the situation, it will affect your body. It will affect your state of mind. It is hard to separate a negative experience from your emotions, but I challenge you today to rethink your anger and sadness.

As this chart states, “I am 100% responsible for my life. Everything I experience is a reflection of me. I attract the good, the bad, and the indifferent through my subconscious positive and negative thoughts.”

We need to rethink feelings and experiences, placing responsibility on ourselves. I know we hate placing responsibility on ourselves. I get it. But think about how that can help you realign your body, mind, and soul with positive energy. I attract the energy that surrounds me. If someone wants to get in an argument, do not entertain it. Put out positivity, understanding, and care into the world. Show them that you do not want to argue. It’s hard to separate pride, the desire to be right. But we need to realize that it isn’t so much about who is right and wrong, but what energy we want to reflect and give to the world. Let’s make this world better.

Realign how you think about situations, arguments, sadness. As this image says, “Are you attracting the life you want, or a life of worry and frustration?”


Volunteering with Purpose

At some point or another, we all contribute to human society by volunteering. Whether it’s at a soup kitchen, cleaning beaches, organizing a youth conference, or simply giving a couple of dollars to someone in need, most of us have experienced the gift of giving. However, I want to challenge everyone to critically think about volunteering, our intention, and purpose.

Who volunteers? (Is it a coincidence that people from low socioeconomic status are more likely to volunteer?)

Why are we motivated to volunteer? (Are there social, political, economic benefits? i.e tax breaks, extra credit)

What types of volunteering do people partake in?(Are you volunteering time or extra money you may have?)

These are some initial questions that may come up if you are thinking about volunteering. But what else can we think of when “volunteering” comes up? I started volunteering because it was a value instilled upon me at school. I grew up knowing that volunteering is good. Why was it good? I didn’t even question it. As I grew older, I found out some benefits to volunteering: getting in to college. Obviously, at a young age I wanted to help people that were disadvantaged: people who did not have the same opportunities that I did. However, there was a reward for me: looking good for college admissions. As I grew older and attended university, I realized a lot of people volunteered on a cost-benefit basis. Thought trajectories along the line of, “I  volunteer not necessarily because I want to help disadvantaged people, but because I will get extra credit and consequently improve my class grade.” I want to challenge readers to think about their volunteer efforts and come up with ways to positively volunteer.

Positive volunteering: Volunteering with a purpose that does not involve personal benefit, but does involve the greater good of society.

Example: I recently became a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer. I am a big sister to a young teenage girl in the Phoenix area. Over the years I have volunteered in numerous projects, but I felt BBBS was a little different. I would be contributing time and a long lasting relationship to a young girl that comes from a low socioeconomic background. I wouldn’t be getting “extra credit” or putting it on college applications. In fact, I would take off hours from work and spend my own money on activities for me and my little (all of which I didn’t mind). I really wanted to create positive impact on disadvantaged youth, but work more closely and make a longer lasting impact. I didn’t want to just show up to one event and tutor kids, or hand out free school supplies, I wanted to serve as a positive role model for this young girl. Months later, I text my little and we schedule biweekly hangouts where I expose her to new things. My emphasis is on exposing her to different cultures via food, events, and activities. I want to show here the possibilities of traveling, working, education, and show her that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Here is a picture of me and my little, Maliyah.



Qualitative Research and Interviewing

One realm of qualitative research involves interviews. As a qualitative researcher I have to constantly ask people if they would be willing to answer some questions or sit down for an in-depth interview. Often nerve wrecking, the hardest part about qualitative research for me is asking someone to be my participant. I get scared to ask strangers to sit down with me, especially if there are language and cultural barriers. Since my line of work is concentrated on small businesses of the East San Gabriel Valley, it proves difficult for owners to give me the time of day. Most of them work everyday during business hours, which is the only time I can ask them questions. They are usually busy tending to customers and running the business. Despite the nervousness I get from asking people for an interview, I have gained success from practicing one thing: Accepting the possibility of rejection. Something that always sets us back from personal growth, work solutions, and success is the fear of rejection. This is what always held me back about asking people to be interviewed. When you become comfortable with the idea of rejection, and the possibility of its occurrence, you begin to accept the challenge of interviewing.


Welcome to Arizona




Arizona is a strange place. Coming from Los Angeles, I am used to exploring. The cultural jungle of the West has instilled in me a love for exploration. Whether its food, culture, or entertainment, L.A will forever have an explorer searching. I am now celebrating my one year anniversary as an Arizona resident. In reflecting on my time here, I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on Arizona. Something Arizona has helped me develop is a strong appreciation for nature. Growing up, I played outside, spent a lot of time at the park, and was involved in several outdoor sports. But as I grew older and as my interests developed, I leaned towards academia, which meant more time indoors. Entering college, I was always busy. Work –> class –> study –> eat –> meetings –> tests –> more work… The cycle never ended. My senior year of college, I told myself I needed to appreciate every last moment I could at USC. Taking long routes back to my apartment, I noticed the beauty of life: simplicity. I watched leaves fall off of my favorite trees, I paused to observe the beautiful planted flowers on campus, and walked around appreciating all the squirrels protruding campus. The mere thought of observing flowers, trees, and squirrels seems ridiculous, but how many times do you actually stop and stay in the present moment? How often do we practice mindfulness, being in the present moment? Rarely. How often do we walk around, headphones in our ears, and have 10000 thoughts running on our minds? All the time…

Pause. Breathe. Take a look at all the beauty that surrounds you.  In these moments, I began to realize how nature is so important, and how nature can bring a whole sense of meaning to my life. What is nature to me? The trees, the birds, animals, flowers, air… Everything that is essential to our existence and part of our Earth that we so often take for granted… I learned to appreciate nature in small doses at USC. When I moved to Arizona, I truly began to realize how beautiful and important nature is.

Arizona is a strange place. I saw cacti, dry landscape, mountains, etc. I saw a different type of beauty in nature, a simple, calmness to the landscape of Arizona’s backyard that I had never seen before. Plants were different. Trees were different. Most of the recreational activities in the area involve the outdoors. Arizona has the Gran Canyon, Sedona, Creeks, Lakes, etc. Lightning/Thunder storms are some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. I couldn’t possible be scared of a storm because the horizon is graced with rays of lightning and a setting sun that can’t be seen in Los Angeles. There is so much to appreciate and so much to admire. It may not be Los Angeles, but it is one of the Earth’s natural beauties. It may not have  a booming cultural or foodie seeking appeal, but the appeal of nature is all it needs.

Arizona is a strange place, but it’s definitely grown on me. Above is a series of shots of a succulent plant I bought at Lowes. I love these small plants, and they hardly require any watering. It’s a small piece of Arizona ❤


Human Rights & Sustainability

When I think of HR and Sustainability, I think about how the two work together to support humans and the Earth. Within the last two weeks, I have been able to better conceptualize my understanding of HR and sustainability. Human rights come from human wrongs and social struggle, where the lack of freedoms require a needed protection from injustice. Human rights is a complex issue arising from our fundamental fault of conceptualizing rights. We need to understand a group before we apply human rights to that group, in order to respect diversity. A big problem with seeing human rights processed is our lack of understanding of groups that need help and of how the idea of rights have theoretically been shaped throughout history. It appears that human rights and environmental protection clash because there is a claim that one cannot defend both the Earth and humans. However, this has a lot to do with our perceptions that the only things that matter are humans. When we think about that idea, I think about the article “Walking the Path of Environmental Buddhism Through Comparison and Emptiness.” From the Buddhist perspective, one can begin to understand how the Earth plays a crucial role in our existence: without the Earth we would not be living or breathing. Yet the Earth appears to be the most unprotected entity of life. In the Vitousek article, I realized a lot of the issues seen with the way we treat our environment. I realized that oceans and land have experienced man-made changes as well as the growth of biotic changes. In order for earth to survive, we need to slow the population growth and use resources efficiently, according to the article.

Hancock discusses dominant forms of rationality which influence our perception of the environment. He discusses how reason is used as a tool for the economic apparatus of society: for capitalists to make more money. Humans, he says, use instrumental rationality to establish what life is and value it. Therefore, environmental human rights are treated as unimportant and/or irrelevant. Social power serves the interests of powerful social groups and therefore, environmental human rights fall short on the agenda of worldwide attention and care. Environmental human rights involves protecting humans while protecting the environment too. I. E Kenya and the issue of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning affected several residents and caused deaths. However, this toxic lead is also harming Earth. In order for a just solution to be implemented, I believe the plant needs to receive strict sanctions but also eliminate the dumping of toxic materials in order to benefit humans and the Earth. To simply dump the toxic waste in a different location would be still harming our environment. http://www.hrw.org/topic/environment