Bird’s Eye View is an experience that entails self discovery, self acceptance, and personal growth through writing and travel.
5 words that Bird’s Eye View Embodies
What do I write about?
Self Acceptance (the topic and methods to strengthen our sense of self compassion)
How travel can lead to healing and growth
My travel adventures and how they have nourished my soul
Methods to work through personal struggles and push our way to new opportunities and higher standards for ourselves
I want to positively effect people with talents that I have kept hidden and be open with what’s in my mind and soul, both light and dark.
I’m passionate about writing and travel, so I wanted to create a platform that I can share my love for both with all of you.
I named my blog Bird’s Eye View because I take comfort in knowing that there is always a higher power taking care of us from above as we achieve great things and go through struggles.
We should use our wings to explore new places and people, no matter what personal struggles we are facing at the moment.
I hope that by being vulnerable with my weaknesses, strengths, thoughts, and fears that I can connect with you on a raw human level and maybe even offer hope and encouragement.
I will share some of my inner thoughts, greatest travel experiences, and guidance on how to live fully even with the day to day struggles we battle.
When do I post?
I post once every 2 weeks (every other Saturday). You can subscribe to my website to receive notifications for posts by entering your email (scroll to the bottom of this page and you will find the subscription box) or if you have a WordPress account already, just click the follow button.
Be sure to follow my Instagram account (@beccarod.blog ) and my Facebook account (Becca’s Blog) for beautiful pictures, sneak peeks of upcoming posts, and the lastest news of Bird’s Eye View!
Thank you so very much your your interest and your support! You are always welcome here at Bird’s Eye View.
A month in the Dominican Republic opened my eyes to the fact that there is no differentiation between the wealthy and the needy, the satisfied and the unsatisfied, and the capable and incapable. Every single one of us are a mix of everything in one way or another. In the four weeks I was gone, I interacted with my fellow classmates, my professors, children I was teaching, and locals. I was surrounded by circumstances and values that lit up my mind in new ways.
I’ve got a lot of growing to do and much of myself to figure out. I like traveling because revelations are formulated and thought processes are questioned.
Here are 3 revelations that stuck with me from my month long trip to the Dominican Republic:
1.It’s important to know the difference between empathy and pity.
To me, pity is a worthless feeling. All it does is separate people into imaginary hierarchies that inadvertently create boundaries which block connection from occurring. I struggle with untangling the meanings of pity and empathy because growing up I learned that feeling bad for someone = caring for them. My mindset is shifting, and I now believe that pitying someone is a short cut emotion but empathizing with someone creates a connection between the two of you that can serve as the foundation for positive change to occur.
I wrestled with this conflict when I was in the Dominican Republic as I taught students of all ages and got a glimpse of their everyday lives. As my students led me through the streets of their hometowns, I couldn’t help but think how different it was from the U.S. I saw a wide range of socioeconomic levels in the different communities I visited. There were times that my heart was sad to see the conditions the students lived in and times I was in awe of how gorgeous and quaint the houses were. Just like anywhere, the DR has a bit of everything.
It made me realize that as an outsider, it is not my place to judge the way people live their lives. Pity is ultimately that: a judgment. Someone can live a life that looks nothing at all like yours and still possess dignity and joy. On the other hand, I fear that by trying to respect and accept the lives that others lead, I am turning my back on opportunities to lighten their vulnerabilities in ways that I’m capable of. It’s so difficult to decipher, and I am still I’m figuring it all out, but I think empathy allows us to connect with the pain in peoples’ hearts while still viewing them as capable and valuable beings, and pity puts us on a pedestal and makes us see the other person as helpless and untouchable. I am learning how to have respect for other people’s lives, even when their lives do not look like mine, while still doing what I can to lighten people’s loads.
2.You are more than what you do
I find it so funny that we define ourselves so strongly by what we do for a living as if there aren’t a million other components to us that are just as important. As I waded through the garbage in a dump on a hot, sunny day in Sosua, Dominican Republic next to my new 9-year-old friend, Davidson, I found myself feeling so bad for what he has to do to make money.
We dug through rotting food, batted away hundreds of flies, and filled canvas bags with plastic bottles. It did not occur to me until after we left the dump and sat with the amazing Christal Earl, founder of Brave Soles and founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, that those boys, men, and women who show up to the dump every day to put in hours of work deserve a lot more respect and appreciation than I originally gave them.
Christal eloquently emphasized the inherent value and auspicious personalities of each person she has gotten to know from working with the dump. It makes me so sad and ashamed to say that a lot of times I forget that people who fly under the radar of “respectable livings” are no different than those who work in positions more favorable in society. I feel so gross saying that, but it was not until I worked alongside sweet little Davidson and listened to his interests and plans for the future that I realized the way you support yourself in this life does not define your soul and your capabilities.
My friend Tori, who was also on the study abroad trip, said it PERFECTLY: You are more than what you do.
This is true in every circumstance. Whether you are cleaning up after people or running a multi-million-dollar business. There’s a lot more to you than what’s listed under your job description and it’s about time we start treating each other that way.
3.Talents and capabilities are distributed worldwide, but opportunities are not.
Working with several different organizations who support the most vulnerable of the Dominican Republic made me realize just how much of a game of luck this whole life thing is. The children and adults I encountered were intelligent, driven, and aspiring young individuals, but one common thing I heard from most of them was “There are just not that many opportunities here.” Due to where I was born, I’m offered so many more tools to create a life of my choosing. That elicits a weird sensation of guilt and gratitude. It’s frustrating and unjust that external circumstances can prevent someone from breaking a cycle of poverty and create a life of their choosing, but those of us who are more fortunate can either feel pity or take action to level the playing field. Go support people. Give them tools such as education so they can overcome the system that has kept them down. Send money, give your time, but for the love of God do not sit still in your guilt when you could be changing the status quo.
My trip to the Dominican Republic made me face some misconceptions of people and the world I possessed head on. While it was uncomfortable and intensely confronting, it was necessary. I am still processing what I experienced and how I want those experiences to mold me. I am grateful for the souls I met and the things they taught me on this trip. I’ll leave you with a quote from Crystal Earl that struck deep:
You are aligned with your truest self when you are being kind to others and lightening their vulnerability.
The struggle of not being enough is one that I no longer
care to burden myself with. The shame is too heavy to carry, and I’d rather be
content and proud of who I am, where I come from, and who I’m becoming.
I’m a dark-skinned girl with thick black hair and caramel brown eyes.
I’m not fluent in Spanish, but I sure have come a long way since
a childhood of only speaking English.
I used to think that my background was a story of shame, but
I now realize it is just a story. And a beautiful one at that.
It’s difficult to connect with people when you believe you should be more just because of what you look like. I have been called a coconut, Pocha, and even been told that I LOOK Mexican, but don’t act like it.
The deepest part of me knows I’m inherently Mexican- deeply family oriented, hardworking, humble, and faithful. And yet, I get questioned constantly by people who can identify with the culture more than I can. It caused me to question myself for a long time.
Today I choose to accept myself for all that I am.
I’m a reserved, yet passionate girl who comes from the kindest and most selfless people you could ever meet. I work hard and take pride in what I do, no matter what it is. Even though I care a lot about what people think about me, I battle against that tendency so I can achieve things that I want for myself, one thing being speaking Spanish fluently.
Even though I sometimes deal with social anxiety, I love
connecting with people on a deep level so that I can see them and they can see
me, not in a superficial way but in a raw human-to-human way devoid of the
restraints of age, gender, stereotypes, and judgments. That desire of
connection is stronger than my urge to hide when I’m embarrassed that even
though I look like I should, I can’t express myself fully in Spanish. I’ll keep
trying and making mistakes everyday until I have the ability to eloquently
express who I am and what I believe.
I’m the accumulation of the people who love me, the places I have been, and the things I have overcome. I no longer wish to take anything away from that and I will give credit to the person who I am. I will work everyday to forgive myself for not being who I think I should be, but until that day I will accept myself for who I am and take pride in being a Mexican American, even if it looks different from other people’s experiences.
If you are anything like me, you have some contradicting characteristics to your personality that can be intriguing and frustrating at the same time. I would consider myself an ambivert: a complicated mix between an introvert and extrovert.
While I love both social interaction and adventure, I absolutely need sufficient rest, alone time, and intentional recharging for both my mind and body to function.
In my recent trip to Mexico, I did not do a great job of balancing out action time and chill time and I most definitely paid for it. If you are someone who can go, go, go all day and party all night for a week straight, then 1) I am jealous of you and 2) this post may not be relevant seeming as how you have super human abilities. But if you have introverted tendencies like me and possess a need for adventure as well as downtime to replenish your energy and mood, you are in the perfect place!
I created a list of tips and tricks to practice self-care while traveling that I wish I would have followed, and will certainly utilize in the future, to make sure I can fully engage in all of the excitement a trip has to offer without letting my gas tank run on empty, making me rundown, grumpy, and anxious.
I still had an amazing week exploring Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Tulum, but next time I will definitely be following these tips to avoid the fatigue, grouchiness, and anxiety I experienced at certain points during the vacation:
Space out your Going-Out nights
Whether you’re a college student needing to destress after a long semester or a mom enjoying a couple drinks at the hotel bar, be sure to give yourself a little buffer room between your fun late-night adventures. My friends and I hit the clubs in downtown Cancun the first couple nights of our trip and even though it was super fun, I was wiped out for several days after. I don’t know about you, but the comfy hotel beds might be at the top of my list when it comes to favorite things about going on vacation, so when I am deprived of that luxury, I turn grumpy, irritable, and standoffish. Live it up and let loose, but don’t do it in a way that’s gonna take away from the other noteworthy experiences waiting for you on your trip.
Drink lots of water
No matter where you jet off too, I’m willing to bet you are going to be exerting a lot of energy navigating your new environment and taking in everything it has to offer. You can still enjoy your Pina Colada along the beach, in fact you should treat yourself to multiple (I sure did), but make it a point to chug some water in the morning or before bed so you don’t feel the annoying symptoms of dehydration throughout the day.
Set aside some alone time for yourself
Whether it’s a little chunk of time each day, or a single full day, alone time is something really important to nourishing the introvert inside of all of us. Sometimes this can be taken wrong, because it can come off as standoffish or like something is wrong, but I’m still trying to find the most effective way to communicate one of my most important truths: If I have some time to recharge, regroup, and collect my thoughts, then I am 10x more engaged and fun when I return to the group.
Leave pleasing others at the bottom of your priority list
I feel like such a hypocrite writing this because this is one of my biggest weaknesses, but this post is as much of a self-improvement tool for me as it is for you, so I have to include it as a reminder for myself. It is okay to say no, it is okay to offer up another option, and it is okay to not be super ultra-pleasant every waking second of the trip. We are human, and when a group of humans come together they naturally will butt heads. Speak up if there is something you’d really love to do or if you want to stay back on something. It’s ironic… but the more you you care about making everyone else happy, the less you will succeed at that, and not to mention run yourself into the ground. If your friends are anything like mine, they will be the happiest when you yourself feel good with yourself.
This information seems so simple, but it really takes focus and dedication to put it into practice in the midst of an exhilarating and bustling trip.
I know missing out on something sounds lame, but trust me when I say that making one small decision to take care of yourself will pay off tremendously during the remaining of your vacation.
Making a little effort to keep yourself in your best possible shape throughout a period of new experiences, late nights, and exploration will help you to get the most out of your trip!
As we get deeper into May, lets all take advantage of Mental Health Awareness Month and commit to making a conscious effort to improving the quality of our lives by exposing and releasing a toxic habit we’re all guilty of: comparison. It is scary how sneaky this habit is and how it weaves through the mind in such a way that we hardly even notice it.
Here are the top three areas that comparison has personally torn me down and how I stopped letting it spoil my happiness and confidence.
I have always had a difficult time feeling beautiful because I never felt like my body met the “standards” of feminine beauty. It’s funny how many compliments get dismissed and the few negative comments:
“If you weren’t so flat chested you would have a nice body”
“Your skin gets too dark”
“Eat more because you are looking too thin”
are given a VIP spot in your brain and they’re all you see when you look in the mirror.
Well, here is some something to consider that will make you realize that comparison is completely pointless.
You are new.
What if everyone realized and accepted we are a brand-new creation of this planet. How can you compare anything about you? You can’t, because you are completely unprecedented. The word “too” is a human construct that does not need to be utilized when discussing the similarities and differences between the physicality of people.
I’m too skinny, too fat, too dark, too pale compared to what?
If you ever hear that phrase being used against you, simply respond, “I’m new… you can’t compare anything to someone who is unprecedented.” And that goes for EVERYONE. If you are living a healthy lifestyle of which you are proud, who gives a damn if anyone sees you as unhealthily skinny or abnormally large.
Allow your body to be a direct representation of the beauty you feel inside. To do that, you must first focus on how you feel internally, or else your external expression will never be enough for you. Let people say and believe what they want. If you believe wholeheartedly you are the definition of beauty just as you are (and I mean genuinely, authentically believe it) then soon everyone else will be wondering how on earth they could have been so wrong. Not that their approval is what you need, because by the time they come around and start buying into your unshakable confidence, you’ll already be so engulfed in incredible opportunities and people who appreciate you, those doubtful people will no longer be offered a place in your life.
We make it far too easy for ourselves to feel inferior to the accomplishments and talents of others. One area where it is difficult for me to not to compare myself to others is in speaking Spanish. It is challenging for me, and I would beat myself up so harshly for not being able to keep up in conversation when I am around people who know Spanish fluently. It led to deeply engrained shame that made it even more difficult for me to learn the language:
It’s a vicious cycle.
I only recently started being more understanding of the fact that, yeah, I did not grow up speaking Spanish at home, so I obviously won’t be on the same level as my friends who spoke Spanish as their primary language in their household. It seems so obvious that would be the case and there’s no need to feel less than or “behind” because there are completely different variables at play in everyone’s lives, but I guess when you feel misunderstood by others it is easy to misunderstand yourself.
This feeling of envy isn’t reserved for people who want to see the downfall of others, even the most well-meaning people who genuinely root for the success of others will feel the sting of comparison when they see people crushing it in life. That’s what we all want for ourselves; to knock this life out of the park and do things that make ourselves and others proud.
Again, YOU ARE NEW.
No one on this earth has the same abilities as you, nor do you replicate the abilities of anyone else. Realize personal and professional growth is not a competition between you and the people who surround you, rather it is a communal journey every person is individually exploring alongside each other. Once you accept that as your new truth, you’ll be free to explore your own interests, skills and weaknesses without the fear you are “falling behind.”
Try to be gentle with the areas you struggle in and try to cultivate them without doing it from a place of insecurity and shame. It took me a long time to stop doing that and I still fall into that awful trap from time to time, but I’m making a conscious effort not to and that is the key. You have your own skill set that offers value to this world, focus on those when you feel the temptation to compare your abilities to those of others.
This one is a KILLER. I look back on countless nights of being simultaneously locked away in my room feeling so inadequate and lonely because I stupidly scrolled through my Instagram and Snapchat feed on a Friday night when I had no plans. All I needed to do was pull my attention away from the accumulation of people’s “highlight reels” and look up to see the value and beauty of what and who was around me.
No matter who you are, you are loved and appreciated even if your current solitude makes you believe otherwise.
Envying the friendships others share only strips your own friendships of nourishment. It is literally the most difficult thing to put in practice because we see other relationships thriving around us and we naturally want that same feeling for ourselves. That’s perfectly fine, just don’t let yourself question your own connections with people just because they may look different than what you see outside of your own bubble. Have fun with who you are around and enjoy the time you have by yourself. We are human and instinctually crave connection with others. That’s a good thing. Just don’t let social media or other outside influences turn that desire for relationship into a fear of loneliness and disconnection.
Make this May the month you expose your own habits of comparison and strip them of their power so you can be free to live as you please. Never accept anything less than the best for your own mental health because our minds are what make up our world, and that is a beautiful thing.
This past March I had the privilege of visiting the charming city of New Orleans for the second time. The first time I visited, I simply thought NOLA = drunken nights on Bourbon Street, swamp tours in the alligator infested waters, and all the Cajun food you can eat. Now let me just say NOLA indeed is all of these things (and rightfully so I might add), but I found out that it has SO much more to offer that I never imagined.
While there are countless restaurants, attractions, and tours to chose from in New Orleans, here are the top places that stood out the most to my friends and I!
My friends and I stayed in a quaint and homey hostel called the Atlas House on Magazine Street. While hostels often times get a bad rep (umm has anyone else seen the horror movie “Hostel”?), if you do your research and take proper precautions to ensure your safety, you can find countless hostels that offer reasonable prices, a sense of community among fellow travelers around the world, and clean, sanitary conditions. The Atlas House had incredible hospitality and offered a yummy breakfast of homemade pancakes every morning. It kinda felt like staying at your grandma’s.
We had the pleasure of meeting a group of 20’ something year olds from Great Britain and even spent several nights with them singing karaoke on Bourbon and playing drinking games through all hours of the night in the cozy living area of the hostel. (Picture credit to booking.com)
If you went to New Orleans and didn’t eat Cajun food, did you really go?? One morning after a long, fun night we woke up and set off down Magazine street in pursuit of food. We noticed a crowd of people lingering outside a restaurant called Surrey’s. Despite the 45-minute wait, our rumbling stomachs, and the embarrassing lack of effort we put into our wardrobe, we decided to wait. Thank the lawd we did because I think that might have been the best meal I had ever eaten. Surrey’s is a Cajun brunch restaurant that serves incredibly fresh and flavorful food. No wonder the line was out the door! (Picture credit candacelatley.com and nola.eater.com)
Maybe after a life altering meal of Cajun cuisine at Surrey’s you are in the mood for something sweet. Have no fear! Further up Magazine Street is an emporium of top-notch sweets called Sucre. This classy little shop sells handmade French macaroons, decadent chocolates, fluffy pastries, and creamy ice cream. I kid you not when I say one bite of the red velvet cupcake made me want to buy ten more (I refrained.) (Picture credit neworleans.com and nola.eater.com)
Of course, Bourbon street was a must on our itinerary. The late-night karaoke sessions (we killed Party in the USA with our British buds) and the greasy pizza slices were fantastic memories that will go down in history, but the street that really struck my fancy was Frenchmen street. I danced in the street for over an hour along with dozens of other people enjoying the lively jazz band set up on the corner of Frenchmen and Chartes. The street was lined with bars that housed live jazz bands. We went into to 30/90 bar and danced along to the energetic musicians that allowed anyone up to sing (if they had talent of course…they made sure to clarify that). It was so much fun watching these random tourists relish in their 3 minutes of fame as everyone cheered them on. (Picture credit neworleans.com and tripadvisor.com)
Introvert Tip: If you are anything like me, you love being social and in the action to a certain extent, but there comes a time when you NEED alone time to recharge. My suggestion is to find a secluded (yet safe) spot in your hotel or hostel to spend some time each day to yourself, doing anything from reading, writing, or even watching a movie.
Be sure to let your friends know where you are! If they are the cool people I know they are, they will totally support your Me Time and welcome you with open arms when you are ready to jump back in the action!
It’s better to step back from all the commotion a trip can entail and come back when you are fully energized rather than forcing yourself to push through and feeling drained all trip.
Both of my experiences in New Orleans have been filled with adventure, exploration, delicious food, and fun times with my friends. Please take my advice and do all that you can to mosey on over to New Orleans. It’s an affordable destination that offers no lack in culture, fun, and character!
Through observation and personal experience, I have noticed that beauty is not specific to gender, age, or color. It is crazy how two people from opposite sides of the world can share the same intrinsic values as if they grew up side by side. Male or female, young or old, introverted or extroverted… it does not matter. The concept of beauty is way too abstract and relative to be topped with a sweet little bow, but I have come up with four measures of beauty that seem solid in my own understanding. Please feel free to let me know if you agree, disagree, or have any comments on my four measures. I have interviewed four lovely women who I believe to represent these four cornerstones of beauty magnificently. They each possess and radiate every single one of the qualities I mention below, but for the sake of trying not to make this post into a novel, I focus on one quality for each of them.