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Life Contains These Things

Must See Health Hub: WellWire

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably just like me: a health rookie. We all want to live well, in every sense of the word. The problem really is how exactly to do it.

WellWire Logo

And the secret, really, is precisely what the logo says: everyday holistic solutions. If there’s one thing that has never worked for me, it’s setting myself up for these outlandish goals and eventually punishing myself for not being able to reach them… which has always been the case.

WellWire is a refreshing, new health and wellness site co-founded by two amazing naturopathic physicians, Dr. Nishant Rao and Dr. Igor Schwartzman. They have devoted this great hub for practitioners, patients, health nuts, foodies, and social media junkies to share information and support each other in reaching health related goals; goals that absolutely anyone can achieve. It’s easy, practical, reliable, and trust me when I say that it’s actuallyhella fun. For instance, check out this entertaining article by Dr. Nishant: Superhero Your Vegetables!

I am privileged to be part of this community: I was recently chosen to have a weekly, Gen-Y focused column on the site, and just like I tweeted, “It feels great to see my face plastered alongside these professionals!” (see my newly published bio here. Holler!) So watch out for the column soon; I’m sure you’ll love it. Meantime, hit up the WellWired folks this weekend, and let’s all toast to our health!

Written by Karla Mercado

September 19, 2009 at 3:25 am

Sure, I’ll Take No For An Answer!

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!@#$%I used to be the kind of person who will never take no for an answer, especially when it comes to pursuing my personal dreams and aspirations. It did me well, sure, but it did me pretty shitty at times, too. Some people would call it assertiveness, which is actually healthy, right? Well, I thought so, too. But there was a point when I realized that I was not just being assertive — I was just being downright stubborn. Some people still think this is a healthy attitude, but I don’t think so. I learned that it just sets me up for traps that eventually stress me out, lower my self-esteem, and overall make me feel completely insecure.

Once upon a time, my prayerful Catholic mother would often tell me that there are usually three answers to prayer: yes, no, and not right now. I would shrug and say, okay mom, thanks, but still go on living as if the only answer I truly deserved was yes and nothing else.

And like I said, it did me well. I was a go-getter, I was, again, assertive, I was confident (sometimes overconfident but hey, take it or leave it, right?), and I always got what I wanted. Or so I thought, until the trend collapsed and I found myself face to face with my very first unachieved goal.

I was furious.

The anger and disappointment and anxiety escalated until I hit rock bottom — I just straight out chose to quit believing in myself. I had convinced myself that I was being punished, living a life that I didn’t want in the first place.

But for some reason, I managed to step out of the rut and start from scratch — but this time, with a completely different attitude.

I tried taking my mother’s words of wisdom and act on it without sounding too religious or spiritual or whatever — that wasn’t my style anyway. But since I had always believed that mother knows best, I decided to give it a shot.

First, learn how to pray. Again, I’m not one to be all Hail Mary’s about it. So I tried refocusing my idea of a prayer. I tried turning it into a lifestyle. Prayer, to me, means to make a goal and work for it; and to work for it not to the point of being over-assertive and stubborn about it, but to just work with what you have. You save yourself a great amount of stress when you do so.

Now, when the answer is yes, be thankful. Do not be overzealous, arrogant, or complacent about it. Just be grateful for the opportunity, and for actually seeing all your hard work pay off. It simply means it’s meant to be, and that’s great. Make the most out of this gift and go on with your life with both feet planted, always.

When the answer is no, cry if you need to. Punch a pillow if that’s what you feel like doing. Rant to your husband or girlfriend or journal until the load seems lighter. Then, accept. Accept that it just wasn’t meant to be. Do not blame yourself for not working hard enough — you did. You know you did everything you could, and that is already more than enough. Know that if it’s not this, it’d be something else. Continue living the life of prayer, let go and move on, and prepare yourself for the gift that was truly designed and meant especially for you.

Finally, when the answer is not right now, be hopeful. Do not lose sight of your goal. Live your life and continue preparing yourself for the pursuit, simply because ‘not right now’ means you probably aren’t ready for it yet. Be patient and continue living your life the best way you can, as this is the only way you can prepare for absolutely anything.

Good luck, and namaste.

Written by Karla Mercado

September 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Introspection

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New York, New York, City of Dreams

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nycNext month, I will be pursuing one of my goals: visit New York, the city of my dreams. And I am super pumped.

I have a bunch of relatives, including my brother, and friends who live there who would only say the nicest things about the city. They say that once you experience living there, you wouldn’t want to leave the place ever again. And I’m taking their word for it.

They also say that the only way to truly experience the Big Apple is to stay away from the touristy spots and travel by roughing it. As a first timer, of course, I wouldn’t know where to go except Central Park or SoHo and other such places, and I’ve never really been a fan of touristy things to begin with. So, I made a shout out on Facebook and Twitter asking people, especially the NY locals, to help me make a kickass, 4-day to do list for my trip to New York. I made sure to mention absolutely no touristy suggestions; only New York’s finest obscurities: hidden pubs, dingy burger joints, underground bookstores, etc.

Here are some of my favorite tips that I would definitely try to check off of my New York to do list:

  • Apollo Theater in Harlem for some kickass motown acts
  • Kati Roll Company for spicy meat or veggies rolled in Indian flat bread
  • Junior’s strawberry cheesecake at the Grand Central Station
  • Grey’s Papaya for the best hotdogs
  • Jollibee in Brooklyn. It just gives me an excuse to foot it to Brooklyn, is all. 😉
  • The Smile for breakfast or maybe a tattoo.
  • Anthony Bourdain’s meat lovers sandwiches scattered across different NYC sandwich joints
  • Volunteer as van assistant for God’s Love We Deliver, a non-secular charitable organization that delivers meals to people with terminal illnesses. It’s a great way to see Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Lower Bronx, not to mention do something really meaningful with your vacation time. I’m actually seriously considering this.
  • Ride the 7 subway train in Queens and get on and off every other stop, as each stop presents a different type of neighborhood with its own character and culture. Great way to take advantage of their different cuisines as well.
  • West Village, St. Mark’s, Brooklyn: the real artist colony, NOT SoHo.
  • Don Bogam, a Korean BBQ joint for interactive cooking.
  • Union Square performers, underground subway musicians, especially the ‘piano man.’
  • The Strand bookstore in Union Square – bookshopping for cheap.
  • NuBlu for world music and acid jazz acts. Must remember not to miss it as I won’t see a sign other than a solitary blue light above the entrance.

That’s it so far. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to do all of it in just four days, but it’s good to keep a list like this and just flip back through it when I plan another trip to NYC. Any more tips?

Written by Karla Mercado

September 10, 2009 at 2:13 am

Posted in Entertainment, Itinerants, travel

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Balancing Tenderfoot

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DSC03209

My official health & wellness blog is finally up and running!
Please visit, support and be a guest blogger in
Balancing Tenderfoot!
Here’s to your health!

Written by Karla Mercado

August 23, 2009 at 4:29 am

It Only Takes Common Sense to Be Healthy

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naturalI just discovered a great resource for natural medicine or naturopathy, an example of alternative medicine that focuses on natural remedies and the body’s ability to maintain and heal itself.

I have to admit that I’ve been suspicious about alternative medicine ever since I started showing interest and passion in the medical sciences, but when I read more about naturopathy, and especially when I discovered WellWire, I realized that it’s really all about going back to basics and learning to live a sustainable, self-sufficient, and balanced lifestyle, which are things that I also personally uphold.

When we go back to basics and when we acknowledge how much we’ve been underestimating our bodies’ capabilities, you’ll realize that you can totally do away without taking in all those pills and multivitamin capsules and acai berry drinks, and still be healthy. All you really have to do is, again, look around you and embrace what nature has to offer. And I think WellWire‘s pretty good at advocating this philosophy.

Going back to basics when it comes to health is something that I work on each day, what with all the health trends being endorsed by models and so-called health gurus every hour on TV. It’s tough; I often forget about what my body really needs. And there’s also this ongoing paranoia when it comes to sickness, when really, at the end of the day, health and wellness isn’t about completely obliterating disease from the face of the earth. I think we’ve allowed this fear of disease (and death from disease) to take over our every day lives, that we end up stuffing ourselves with all sorts of meds that end up destroying our liver anyway. What’s even worse is when we shrug it all off and say, “Ah, to hell with it. We will all eventually die of cancer anyway. Let’s live in the moment!” and allow our bodies to waste away in drunken escapades and cigarettes.

Naturopathy is such a refreshing avenue in healthcare because it reminds us of the common sense we tend to overlook each day. Yes, it’s pretty much common sense, really — “eating the rainbow” (every color of fruit and veggies), managing stress to maximize your immunity to the flu, staying outdoors early in the morning to absorb all that sunny, Vitamin D goodness, etc. And with the ridiculous expenses attributed to hospitals and treatments, going back to basics also means saving yourself if not hundreds, thousands of dollars just to stay in shape. The sun is free, for one thing!

So, like I would always tell you guys — just look around you! Nature demands our attention… and for a pretty good reason, too.

The Identity Hunt

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Subjectivation – a philosophical term coined by Michel Foucault wherein people define for us who we are, and in turn, allowing ourselves to be defined.

What if, all along, I let other people define who I am?

Not too long ago, I had a painful realization. It started over a very small argument with someone that progressed into a deep wound and, inevitably, an actual panic attack. I had to leave my cubicle and excuse myself from work that morning. I couldn’t push myself to be productive knowing that I, someone who claimed to be living and breathing individuality, actually didn’t have an identity at all.

I woud’ve continued to wallow and let myself recoil in defeat, and with that I mean the most absolute, final defeat, but then I thought — what if perhaps everyone, every single human being here on earth, doesn’t have an identity either?

My own definition of identity is boxed into the overused word, ‘label.’ And again, for someone who’s supposed to be ‘unique’ and ‘individual’, I practically lived my entire life in the quest to attain one, just like everyone else.

To me, a label was something that will not only give you individuality and uniqueness. It also gives absolute direction. And who wouldn’t want direction — a clear and precise roadmap that explains to you the significance of your past, dictates to you your present, and guarantees a future?

People spend their entire lives killing for that kind of user manual. For answers. For purpose. For clarity. Because the end goal, the destination, will define his entire person. It would make him an essence. It will provide fulfillment.

And all these, through the achievement of an identity, which can only be born out of a label.

Where did labels come from? People. And what gave these labels enough street cred to actually be called a ‘label’ — a word that is so precise, so clear-cut?

Society makes the word ‘label’ as highfalutin and necessary as the concept is often deemed. Societies with authorities perpetually passing on what past generations believed was the ‘right’ way to live a life. Societies with parents and families and teachers and peers who stamp upon the searching youth’s mind that fulfilling all the prerequisites to the identity curriculum is a matter of life and death — because without an identity, you are practically nonexistent.

No wonder so many kids end up taking their own lives, tired and exhausted and resigned from the fact that they just can’t achieve that which makes them Real. Alive. Existing.

What if the concept of an identity is just an illusion? What if our purpose as real, alive, and existing human beings with a beating heart, a working brain, and sharp senses, is to keep searching without expecting to find something?

What if we are supposed to willingly and proudly admit — “I don’t have an identity!” — and not yearn and pine and live our lives courting, wooing and chasing after the answer, simply because the answer is already there, in our quest to find one?

One shouldn’t focus on the end too much lest he ceases from acknowledging how much he’s learning and gaining right now — from the process, from the trip.

Foucault’s response is to treat our own lives as a work of art, and we ourselves are the artists, rather than allowing others to sculpt us. He says that there is no such thing as an ‘authentic self’, that if our mode of life is that of searching for ourselves or discovering ourselves, we end up frustrated becuase there is no self to find. Rather, there is only a self to be made… and re-made.

To me, it’s ultimately this: You work to become the best goddamn writer, doctor, actor, musician, student, teacher, parent, sibling, friend, priest, counselor, CEO, whathaveyou, and when you reach the point where you finally realize that things aren’t exactly working as it should be, you triumphantly cry out upon your arrival to either one of the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ fork road destinations, “Wow, what an awesome trip. Now it’s time to thumb my way to a brand new ride.”

Written by Karla Mercado

August 18, 2009 at 5:40 am

Top 5 Favorite Love Stories

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Being single and all, I can’t help but indulge in other people’s love stories. Unlike before, when this so-called gratification was actually a product of self-pity and jealousy, right now it’s just precisely that: a guilty pleasure. I don’t envy nor wish myself the same thing anymore, and writing about it is just my own little way of honoring what I think are five of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever seen… on screen.

Just a couple of red flags before I begin:

Sap-fest alert. If you’re allergic to love a la The Shins’ Know Your Onion!, side effects to reading this post include nausea and, in rare cases, actual puking. It’s gonna be really cheesy. You have been warned.

Potential movie spoilage. If you haven’t seen Magnolia, Stranger Than Fiction, The Science of Sleep and/or State and Main and do not wish to be spoiled, do not proceed.

TOP 5 FAVORITE LOVE STORIES:

#5: Jim and Claudia (Magnolia)

Jim and Claudia

Claudia: You don’t know how f-cking stupid I am.
Jim: It’s okay.
Claudia: You don’t know how crazy I am.
Jim: It’s okay.
Claudia: I got troubles, okay?
Jim: I’ll take everything at face value. I’ll be a good listener… whatever it is, just say it, you’ll see.
Claudia: You wanna kiss me, Jim?
Jim: Yes, I do.

I remember having this “messed up love story” phase back in the day; I was so drawn to couples who seem to have the shittiest habits and lives, precisely the things that glued them together in the first place. I’m glad I’m over that phase, now that I try to stay away from such a complicated life, but I can’t help but be so infatuated with the fire of passion that never seems to be doused when two unpredictable, self-destructive people are left alone in a room.

But I think the balance between Claudia and Jim is great, a classic example of opposites attract. It’s far from being perfect, but their story definitely makes my top 5.

#4: Harold and Ana (Stranger Than Fiction)

Harold and Ana

Harold: Miss Pascal, I’ve been odd. I know I’ve been odd, and I know that there are many forces at work telling me to bring these down here to you, but I brought these for you because… I want you.
Ana: Excuse me?
Harold: I want you.
Ana: You want me?
Harold: In no uncertain terms.
Ana: But isn’t there some… I don’t rule about fraternization…
Harold: Auditor / Auditee protocols, yes, but I don’t care.
Ana: Why not?
Harold: Because I want you.

I was just talking to my friend Aldus yesterday about this amazing film, and how much I adore the love story between Harold and Ana. He thinks that their story was only secondary to the whole theme of the film, but I find it pretty pivotal nonetheless. In the story, Harold knows when and how he is going to die, and this causes a complete shift in his daily activities. As an accountant, he was used to rules, structure and habits that never seem to change. He strictly followed his watch and brushed his teeth the exact same way each day. But when he finds out about his death and meets Ana — a down-to-earth, unconventional pastry chef, and Harold’s auditee — he is inspired to drop everything and live in the moment. He learns to embrace his inevitable death, which eventually results in life… literally.

#3: Stéphane and Stéphanie (The Science of Sleep)

Stéphan and Stéphanie

Stéphanie: How’s your head?
Stéphane: It’s okay. It’s not normal though…
Stéphanie: It’s never going to be.

Quite a strange love story I must say, but still quite entertaining. I normally go for the realistic, down-to-earth love stories but this one’s an exception. The entire theme of the film and the love story itself centered on the clash between realism and surrealism. As I was watching the film, just like Stéphane, who had a tendency to overlap his dreams with reality, I wasn’t sure which portions of the film constitute reality, and which ones were merely dreams. I must admit that I would like my own love story to have this kind of conflict — not always, of course, but just enough to keep the element of magic alive.

#2: Joe and Ann (State and Main)

Joe and Ann

Joe: How do I do a film called “The Old Mill” when I don’t have an old mill?
Ann: Well, first you’ve got to change the title.

One of my favorite scenes from Mamet’s masterpiece, State and Main, was when Joseph Turner White (“Joe”), a screenwriter, tries solving screenplay problems with Ann, a local bookseller. They exchange ideas and converse in such a light and comfortable manner, that watching them became such a pleasant and peaceful thing to do. Both shared common interests and passions, and these similarities eventually brought them together. It’s a typical love story, but through the years, I’ve realized that although opposites breed a fiery attraction, relatedness is what normally keeps two parties together for a longer period of time.

#1: Boni and Paz (my grandparents)

Papa and Mama

Boni: The first time your Mama pursued me…
Paz: Mmm-hmm?!?! What?

Okay, I know it’s cheating, since this is a real love story. But I can’t help it; nothing else deserves the #1 spot. My top love story is one where both are different but at the same time similar — complete opposites but mirror images in spirit; where both know how to laugh at and with each other, fight but eventually forgive, know how to agree to disagree and fully embrace that without taking offense. Those are Papa and Mama’s most marked characteristics as a happily married couple, fifty years and counting. It is one where they’re able to uphold this:

Love Story…and still manage to gaze lovingly at each other and dance to Sinatra’s crooning when everyone else has left the party.

Written by Karla Mercado

August 16, 2009 at 6:33 pm