Life Social Good

    What I Learned from Hurricane Harvey as a New Houstonian

    Cup of Charisma, Houston Blogger, reflects on what she learned from Hurricane Harvey after it left devastation in Houston, Texas.

    It’s been a rough month and while I’ve taken quite a departure from the blog in August, I wanted to come back and share some of the emotions I’ve had while processing Hurrican Harvey and the havoc it unloaded on Houston. As Hurrican Irma is on track to hit my home state of Florida, it feels helpless being hit in not one home, but two. Harvey was unlike any hurricane or natural disaster I had ever seen. I tried to get home after attending Yellow Conference in LA (you can read about how I got stuck in this New York Times’ piece), but couldn’t beat the storm which led to many flights and a drive to Houston. I wrote the below essay in a Facebook status after I finally made it home from Ft. Lauderdale to Houston while experiencing late-night insomnia and tidying up my clean, undamaged apartment. Things felt surreal and I felt helpless. As we cope with whatever storms and disasters life throws in front of us, I wanted to highlight two silver linings: hope and community. This year’s political rhetoric has dimmed that spark I once had for the human heart. I believed everyone had heart, the sky was all rainbows, the good always prevails, and whatever unicorn candy life feeds you when you’re young. It only took a spoonful of misogyny, a plate full of racism and far too many neo-Nazis in broad daylight to make me feel sickened and a bit depressed by what felt like a new normal. Houston’s attitude has illuminated the dark cloud I had hanging over me for not just this week, but for this year. Silver linings happen and sometimes they are strong enough to let all of the sunshine in. So here’s a little entry I wrote candidly after feeling disappointment and shifting it into complete pride:

    Being marked as “safe” is not the same as being marked as “OK.” While national news is all gloom and doom, the scenes from this week remind me that Houston was the most life-changing move of my life and I’m forever indebted to this beautiful and accepting city. I count my blessings for the compassionate people I’ve met in Houston and the pride of our quirky community. South Florida is my hometown, but Houston has become HOME. I’m not the type of person who feels comfortable shutting down, so here it goes…
    First off: Harvey sucks. I haven’t taken the time to truly process the damage Harvey left behind for my friends and neighbors until tonight, and it hurts like HELL. Tonight’s the first real night that I’ve processed the photos, videos, friend’s stories and damage that took place this past week since my first attempt at flying home on Saturday. I remember my group of Houston friends being terrified as I carelessly hopped a flight in hopes of getting home for what felt like a routine hurricane to this South Floridian. I’ve associated South Florida hurricanes with “hurricane parties,” and a day or two to miss work and curl up with a book. While my girl gang provided real-time updates, I was astonished and terrified with each text about rising waters, photos updates, and prayers for the storm to stop. My friend Emelia texted, “pray to whatever you believe in,” and if it were any other moment I would shrug it off. I don’t identify strongly with religion, but I prayed and prayed and prayed while my flight hovered just miles away from a catastrophe. It was difficult to feel so far away and helpless. I wanted to sweep up my friends who welcomed me to Houston with open arms. I wanted to form a shield around their homes and intercept the pounding rain. I couldn’t carry the weight of the storm. I couldn’t make it stop with prayers. I just flew beside the storm as a passenger to its malice while Harvey materialized as a potent threat to the people I love most.

    Cup of Charisma - Hurricane Harvey FlightThe craziest flight route EVER. From LA to Houston, Dallas, Houston-ish, Dallas and finally Oklahoma City where my plane grounded.

    To be blunt, I feel guilty. I’ve woken up with a painstaking bullet of penitence each day since arriving in Florida to a comfortable home on Sunday evening and arriving to an undamaged apartment last night, but today reached a new high. After arriving from Austin yesterday evening, I unpacked my bags and tidied the apartment after Houston’s curfew in a moment of restless insomnia. As I cleaned unaffected countertops and folded clothing, the heartbeat I’ve felt for my city from afar grew in rapidity and felt violent. We almost bought a house this year. We were spared the loss of everything we’ve accumulated in the last two and a half years; the loss of curated memories and everyday items that some of our friends now lack. We will pour ourselves into being there for others, but I still look at the photos in our home and the keepsakes from our life with a sickening grief for those who lost what we once took for granted.

    What I Learned From Hurricane Harvey - Donations

    Donations from friends helped purchase $200 worth of supplies to fill two duffle bags on my way home traveling with Southwest.

    This emotional deposit was stemmed by my listening to the New York Times’ podcast, “The Daily” – a morning routine I’ve postponed all week until this case of 3 am insomnia. There is a surreal quality to seeing your city make national news. Of all of the countless critiques and headlines circulating about Houston’s Harvey efforts, I can attest to one thing: Texans have a heart like no other.

    I remember friends asking if I’d ride a horse to work upon choosing to move to Texas. Friends joked about what cowboy hat I’d tout to work. While Texans love the rodeo and revel in their boots on Go Texans Day, I have to burst your bubble and admit that Houston is the most diverse city I’ve ever lived in. Coming from a Miamian, this is a huge statement. More than 145 languages are spoken in this gorgeous city. The diversity is incomparable. Sure, people have their political differences, but in crisis, we are colorblind to blue and red.

    I love our local businesses and how many Houstonians would prefer to support the little guys than national names. I love our green parks and underestimated museums. I love that Kirby Drive LITERALLY shuts down for several hours as trail riders cross the road in horse and buggy like some old Western flick during rodeo season. I love the creative entrepreneur groups and how many fellow ladies are running things in Houston. I love that our Women’s March basically turned into a high-energy Beyonce dance party. I love the sense of community. I love that it feels like everyone knows each other despite Houston being anything but a small pond. I love that we have Mattress Mack taking in EVERYONE and exceeding expectations for his countless TV-commercial promises of the “best deal” in town. I love coming home and seeing photos of a community that isn’t shattered, but strong and emboldened– a community that walks outside to help complete strangers rip up flooring and cut sheetrock. I love that a FREAKING FLEET of civilian boats came to SAVE lives. I am more proud to be a Houstonian than ever.

    There are countless ways to help Hurricane Harvey Relief in Houston. I’m no JJ Watt and I can’t say I’ve raised 20 million dollars, BUT I’ve spent the last week raising funds for the Houston Food Bank and gathering supplies. For my 28th birthday, I’m donating my gifts to the Houston Food Bank. If you’re interested in supporting the cause, please visit my donation page here.

    Thank you for reading and following my journey. While neighborhoods and communities are so monumental and important, I appreciate my only community all the same.

    Events

    Say Hello to Hispanicize Texas (+ a Gucci Giveaway!)

    Hi, friends! I have officially fallen off the map in July and I’m so sorry about it. I moved apartments, lived out of boxes (still am!), traveled and totaled by car all in the last two weeks. Life comes at you fast, right? I promise I’m working hard on getting the ball rolling again with this blog, but wanted to share some exciting news! I was honored when Juan Alanis of Big Oak Tree Media (and blogger at Juan of Words) invited me to join the Advisory Board of Hispanicize Texas. I was even more excited when he asked me to moderate an awesome panel at the big event,  The Rules Are Different Now: What Digital Creators Need to Know to Work with Brands in 2017.

     Slated for Saturday, July 29th in Houston’s Silver Street Studios, the full day Hispanicize Texas is being created to inspire, empower and engage digital content creators, cultural influencers and entrepreneurs in the Lone Star State, one of the largest multicultural markets in the nation. In addition to a dedicated creators’ track, Hispanicize Texas will also feature a full slate of sessions devoted to entrepreneurship and cultural themes that touch marketing, the arts, journalism, and leadership.  These two tracks along with engaging brand activations will keep Hispanicize Texas flowing from 8 a.m. through the evening.
    Hispanicize is a HUGE deal in Miami, where the conference was born, so I’m so proud of the hardworking influencers who have brought it to Texas!
    While I also gear up on content, I wanted to share that I’m in an awesome giveaway you should totally enter!
    I decided to team up with some of my favorite bloggers and bring you an amazing giveaway. One lucky reader will win a mini Gucci Marmont purse.
     
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    Money Can Buy Lipstick | Blondes & Bagels | Glitter & Spice | DTK Austin | By Brittani Lauren | Life Lutzurious 
    Style Weekender | I’m Fixin’ To Blog | So Heather | Blush & Blooms | Mrs. Casual | Style of Sam
    Greta Hollar | Sunsets & Stilettos | A Lily Love Affair | The Trendy Tomboy | The Beauty Beau
    Le Fab Chic | Red Soles & Red Wine | Rose Gold Lining | The Closet Crush | Cup of Charisma | Topknots & Pearls
    Lots of Sass | Vandi Fair | Tonya Michelle 26 | xoxoBella | Pretty Yellow Things | Styled Blonde
    Miss Molly Moon | Twenties Girl Style | The Glitter Gospel Blog | Jasmine Elias | Uptown Fashion by Jess | Alicia Tenise
    Kate Loves Makeup | Fashion & Frills | Denver Darling | Super Fashionable | Styled Adventures
     
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    Use the widget below to enter the giveaway. The more “tasks” you complete, the more entries you will receive. The winner will be announced (on the widget) within 2 weeks of the giveaway ending. The giveaway is open worldwide.
     
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    Events Style

    Monday Blues: Lace Crop Top Dress Under $120

    Dress // Shoes (similar) // Globetrotter Necklace (c/o 7 Charming Sisters) // Before Dawn Bracelet (c/o 7 Charming Sisters)  // Inspire Me Earrings (c/o 7 Charming Sisters)

    Happy Monday! This weekend felt like a non-stop whirlwind of events and I haven’t had the time to catch my breath! I wanted to pop-in to share some photos from this weekend’s Wine & Food Week, hosted at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel. Brian and I relived our California adventures (you know, the time we tried to be really fancy and pretend we knew the difference between a petite syrah and a regular syrah).

    After I wrapped up my social media panel for the Thrive Creative Conference pop-up, I packed my bags to head out to The Woodlands. If you’re not from Houston, this gem is about 45 minutes north of my home and is a secluded little oasis away from the H-town traffic. We were invited to attend the Saturday’s Platinum Wine Vault Ultra Premium Tasting and Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase. Lucky for me, we were also allowed to stay the night at the hotel, which was absolutely gorgeous! Brian was on puppy duty and headed home to watch Minnie, but not before our mini-photoshoot in the lush landscape of the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel and a gluttonous amount of sweets and wine. In case you missed it, I shared the full rundown of the Wine & Food Week events on my blog last week. If you’re in Texas, I hope you add it to your radar for next year.

    So let’s touch base on the dress that makes the Monday blues, well… less blue? This beautiful lace crop top dress is perfect for the woman who wants to feel confident and refined. (By the way, this was originally going to be my bridesmaid dress for a wedding I have next year! I couldn’t wait that long.) The dress has a transparent cutout to make you feel a little less exposed and the full skirt adds the perfect dose of elegance. I really would love this dress in another color, but also have my eye on this lace off-the-shoulder number. As for the jewelry, these marble pieces are courtesy of 7 Charming Sisters. If you use code “CupOfCharisma15” you get 15% off your purchase.

    It’s been quite a week, so here are a few of the main things happening that I haven’t had a chance to share:

    • I finally got a gym membership! I enrolled in Equinox and even got a personal trainer. Prepare for endless amounts of whining on my Insta-stories until the routine kicks in. I think I haven’t been able to walk for roughly three days! Squats are a killer…
    • I have a $500 gift card giveaway happening on the blog – to Target AKA the Motherland.
    • I have done FOUR public speaking events this year! That was a big goal of mine in January – what goals do you have for 2017?
    • I am moving into a new apartment next week, so prepare for a full-on home decor post.
    • Finally, I will be visiting NYC TWICE in July. Do you have any must-do items I should add to my list?

    This post is partnership with Wine & Food Week and The Woodlands Waterway Marriot. Thanks for inviting me to join this special event! 

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    Happy Monday + $500 Target Gift Card Giveaway

     

    | Hearts of Gold Blog | Navy Grace Blog | Lynzy & Co. | DoSayGive | SheSheShow | HashtagFabLife | The Closet Crush | DTKAustin | Topknots and Pearls | Coming Up Roses | Cup of Charisma | Life By Lee | Lipstick, Heels and a Baby | Visions of Vogue | Jetting Jewels | Ash n’ Fashn | Simply Classy | L. Avenue | Celebration Stylist | Sunshine & Stilettos | Modest Goddess | South Coast Style | Emma’s Parlour | Madam Andrews |

    This $500 Target Gift Card giveaway is brought to you by these beautiful bloggers above, make sure you check out their sites! It is open to the U.S. and Canada. You can enter by performing the actions below in the Rafflecopter, marking that you have done them and providing your name/username for us to verify. Each entry has a link so it makes it easy to do the actions, make sure and perform the actions. We do check!

    Giveaway runs from June 12 – June 26, 2017 (concludes at 12:00 AM on the last day). Winner will be announced within 10 days of the conclusion of the giveaway and entries will be verified by the hosts. Thanks for participating, I can’t wait for you to see all of these awesome bloggers!

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    Events

    Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands

    Happy Wine Wednesday! If you follow me on Instagram, it’s no secret that I love a great glass of wine on #WineWednesday… and every other night of the week. From cava tastings in Spain to cabernet in Napa Valley, I love traveling new cities and experiencing expanding my palate for wine.  When Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands popped on my radar, I was excited to have a tasting event right in my backyard.

    If you’re not a vino drinker, hear me out. For the record, I used to not know the difference between Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” and a glass of Chateau Lafite. (Honestly, if you blindfolded me, I still wouldn’t!) Wine grew on me, but I started to enjoy it for a reason outside of the taste: the people. Wine and food are threads that weave us together in a tight-knit way through anticipated girls’ nights, dinner parties, work networkers, and travels. There’s a reason why friends, a bottle of merlot and great food are all common denominators of an evening well-spent. Aside from sampling amazing wines and food from chefs around the world, I’m really excited to meet new people from the Houston-area and beyond.

    Now in its 13th year, Wine & Food Week will host 75 chefs, hundreds of talented winery representatives, and an incredible lineup of restaurants between now and June 11. There will be more than 500 wines from across the globe… yes, 5-0-0. Wine & Food Week has raised over $900,000 for local charities over the years through their silent auctions at the H-E-B Wine Walk at Market Street, the WineRendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase and other various happenings throughout the year. This year’s beneficiaries are The John Cooper School’s Signature Author Series as well as New Danville (which I’m really excited about), a community where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live and work.

    I was invited by Wine & Food Week to attend Saturday’s Platinum Wine Vault Ultra Premium Tasting and Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase and stay at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel. Brian (my boyfriend) and I are really excited to experience Wine & Food Week. I’ve been packing my weekend bag and looking forward to a much-needed “staycation.” Wine is actually something that’s been very special to us and carries a sense of nostalgia. We visited Napa Valley with friends two years ago and bought a special bottle wine from the Hess Vineyard (his last name is Hess, so this was a cheesy but necessary no-brainer) and have been holding onto it for the right time. I have no idea when that “special moment” will happen but since Napa, we’ve enjoyed trying new wines and cooking together throughout the week. It’s a bit cathartic! Wine nights give us moments to look forward to and time to unwind.

    If you’re in the Woodlands area, I’d love to see you at the event! You can snag tickets for Wine & Food Week here.

    Thursday, June 8

    H-E-B Wine Walk at Market Street

    Location: Market Street in The Woodlands
    Time: 5:30 – 8:30 PM
    Cost: $20.00 – $35.00


    Friday, June 9 

    Ladies of the Vine Tasting, Panel & Luncheon
    Location: The Club at Carlton Woods Main Club House
    Time: 12:00 – 3:00 PM
    Cost: $85.00

    Sips, Suds & Tacos
    Location: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
    Time: 6:00 – 9:00 PM
    Cost: $20.00


    Saturday, June 10

    Platinum Wine Vault Ultra Premium Tasting (I’ll be here!)
    Location: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
    Time: 4:30 – 6:30 PM
    Cost: $250.00

    Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase (I’ll be here!)
    Location: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
    Time: 7:00 – 10:00 PM
    Cost: $125.00

    VIP Experience – Mercedes-Benz VIP Lounge and Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting Combo
    Location: The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
    Time: 7:00 – 10:00 PM
    Cost: $175.00