Yes, the store aisles are overstocked with romantic cards doused in corny messages, endless heart-shaped candy boxes tempting you as you walk by, and bouquets of roses that are triple the price, but I wouldn’t have it any other way once February 1st hits. Valentine’s Day is pegged as a “Hallmark Holiday,” but in a world that needs as much love as possible, I welcome the excuse to take a dedicated day to say I love you. In my eyes, this heart-shaped day isn’t just about celebrating couples. It’s a day to celebrate love in any way, shape or form: love for friends, family members, girlfriends, boyfriends, wives or husbands and perhaps most importantly, love for yourself.I believe one of the secrets to happiness is having a true love for yourself. Far too often people lose sight of this, burying themselves in worrying about what other people think or expect from them, so much that they start living life in ways that make others happy but not giving themselves what they truly want . And everyone deserves to be who they are and live a life that is authentic to them. If you already know your worth, take today to celebrate that. Treat yourself to something you love, order your favorite food, enjoy that delicious glass of wine, and break your diet for the night by indulging in a sweet treat. If you are on the journey of realizing your worth, let today be the first day you wake up and realize how special you are and what you have to offer as an individual that you perhaps haven't acknowledged before. Whether you are celebrating today with someone else in your life, or taking the day to celebrate yourself, I raise a chocolate, a rose, a teddy bear holding a heart, and a glass of champagne to living a life full of love and to always remember to be good to yourself. Let this holiday be a reminder of that, and every day from here on out.Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends.
I find myself feeling a bit more sentimental than usual over the last few days. At the beginning of January, I always take some time to reflect on the prior year. But this year has been different -- different because I find myself in a place in my life where I couldn’t feel more thankful. Thankful not for material things, but instead, for the people who mean the world to me and the new friends I met who opened my eyes to new experiences.I married someone I couldn’t imagine ever not meeting, someone who made me believe in the idea of soul mates. Marriage was never something that was important to me…but then I met Gio and marriage suddenly became one of the most important things to me. Our wedding was enchanting, something that looked like it was out of a fairytale. We were surrounded by our closest friends and family members, everyone radiating love and positivity. Our parents proudly walked down the aisle before we did, something that meant so much to us because the day was about celebrating not just our love, but our love for our family and friends. To hold onto my mom’s arm as she walked me towards my sister, who married my husband and I, is an image I will never forget - a woman who from the moment I came out to showered me with nothing but love and acceptance and is one of the biggest advocates I know today.I got to experience different parts of the world this year, immersing myself in beautiful cultures and spending time with people native to the lands we visited. In Bali, a local driver named Ari brought my husband and I to one of the most sacred temples on the island. In this temple, he pointed at a woman praying and said, “Look, look. Look how beautiful she is.” She was praying in a Buddhist temple, but was a Muslim. It’s one of the only places that I have seen where two different religions can share a space to pray. If only our world could learn from this gesture of peace, it may be a much more harmonious place.My sister, one of my best friends in the world (we are only 16 months apart), also got married and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how happy she is. She is one of the most kind-hearted people and deserves nothing but happiness, so it moves me to see her get her happily ever after. My cousin had a baby this year, allowing me to step into the role of “Uncle,” while my other cousins bought their first home in New Jersey, gearing up for a family of their own. My best friend and cousin Joey fearlessly moved across the country to LA to fulfill a dream of spending some time out West and my Dad and Stepmom (although I hate that word, I prefer to say my second mom because she is such an important person in my life) bought a house down the Jersey Shore, finally doing something for themselves after doing so much for their children throughout their entire lives. As of April, I gained a new beautiful Cuban family who I can’t imagine living one day without. Our families blended together and now we are one big Italian-Cuban mixture of personalities who try to see each other as much as possible.In the fast-paced city life where work has no starting or ending time because it is a constant machine that always has to be fueled, and the days seem to go by too quickly, it’s important to stop and reflect on the things that matter most to you. For me, it’s family and friends. While I am thankful for all of the amazing opportunities I have had in my company and career over the last year, it is the people I love most who I would give up anything in the world for. Always remember to take a minute and tell the ones dearest to you that you love them. In a world where it sometimes feels like chaos and cloudiness fill the air, the power of love will always shine through. Happy New Year.
In a world with so much heaviness and hatred, I want to encourage you to hold onto hope and do your part to spread love in whatever way you can. I decided to create a campaign initiative to do just that. Ready for the #WorldNeedsMoreLove challenge?
1. Write the name of anyone (friend, family, acquaintance) down on a piece of paper & say something kind about them
2. Snap a selfie holding the piece of paper
3. Post with the caption “I join the #WorldNeedsMoreLove challenge” on your social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook & tag 3 friends to challenge them to join the movement too!❤️
Watch my video message here.
There is a serious problem in how we treat each other. Hiding behind a computer screen, people think they can torment, tease, and harass somebody for anything they decide is “newsworthy” enough to make fun of. But how can you expect others to accept and understand the gay community, when people in our very own community spew hatred? This is a community that already has to fight harder and louder to be heard and accepted, and yet so many use hateful rhetoric towards one another.
I have been blown away by the support from so many people around the world — from mothers of gay and straight teenage boys expressing how our story of love and marriage has moved them, to helping men of all ages make steps towards coming out, to couples expressing how we have helped them make the decision to get married after being together for years. But I have also received messages from members of the gay community criticizing everything from our appearance to our intelligence. Some have even wished us an unsuccessful marriage.Here’s something to think about. Young teens around the world consider suicide every single day because they are bullied by their peers for being gay. This is unacceptable and I will do whatever I can to shed light on this horrific problem. I will always try to help, support, and raise someone up in a positive way. Instead of supporting people and being an advocate for human rights, why are some gay men okay with becoming bullies themselves?
I will never understand the motives behind such hateful words, but what I do understand is that this needs to stop. Until it does, these men are no better than the people causing such turmoil and sadness for gay kids, teens, and even adults who are being harassed, bullied, and ostracized for being gay.
I challenge you to realize the negative energy you are putting out there and how you are setting back your very own community for what we all have fought so hard for: acceptance and respect. Let’s focus on being kind to one another, on raising each other up and supporting one another, and working together to continue making strides for acceptance and love. Let’s help everyone find the strength to realize their worth and that they too deserve to live a life of complete happiness.