What makes you feel alive?

Coming out of the situation we were all put in last year, a few of these habits had the power to make me feel alive. Especially on those days, you had nothing to look for or any idea how long this situation would last for.

How long are we going to be in lockdown? How long are we only going to visit the supermarket and drugstore for fun? Thoughts like “will my life become entirely digital, without any other human contact, smile, or even facial recognition because we are all be wearing masks for the rest of our lives?”

There were so many questions I couldn’t find the answer at that time, and the only way out was to find things that made me feel alive. Felling alive and blessed for having a healthy strong system, enough to keep me safe during the pandemic, while a lot of people struggle, was a plus.

That led me to think and evaluate the true thing that keeps me alive and happy. Whatever brings a smile to my face or a giggle while walking around.

What makes you feel alive? Here are a few things that make me dance around.

The bright sun in the sky

At this point in my life in the United States, I’m somehow used to long winters. I lived in Chicago two different times and I know how dragging arctic winters can mess up with your mood, leading to seasonal depression.

I’m so thankful I was in Texas when the pandemic started because just imagining being cooped up in a tiny apartment for months, drops my mood to the ground.

I grew up in Brazil and we have the sun almost all year round, so when I had to deal with drag, short days, getting dark at 4 PM, that was it for me. Living in Colorado is also cold, but they have a lot of sunny days here, and that helps me to smile more. I love opening my window and see the light shining bright, it pushes me forward to keep moving.

Everyone looks happier when the spring and the summer start.


Dogs are my kryptonite. I love dogs and I just want to be around them. I had two dogs before of my own, one we adopted and another one we foster at the beginning of quarantine. There is no greater love than the love of a dog, they want nothing in exchange, they just want love and treats, and that I have an abundance of. My parents adopted a stray dog, while I was visiting them in Brazil, last March.

Baby Kiara, the stray dog who won my heart <3

Baby Kiara is about three months old and she was found at the veterinarian clinic by the vet. She is the most adorable thing, but she is in trouble, because she looks like a little rat, running around the house, and sometimes we trip on her. She also bit the walls, everyone’s feet and she barks at an empty bottle filled with rice grains my mom gave to her. This time was especially hard to come back home because I got used to her. I hope she remembers me when I go back next year.

Walking around without a destination.

Usually, I put on my favorite playlist, something from the late ’90s or early 2000s, like Nsync or Britney Spears, and march away. Sometimes I walked so far, I had to take the bus back. That used to happen in Chicago a lot.

I used to live in Lakeview East, close to the Wrigley Field Stadium. Summertime comes around and I walked to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Had to take the bus back. On one of these random walks, I was listening to Beyonce and almost got hit by a car, because I was distracted and didn’t pay attention while crossing the street.

Listen to my favorite song.

Having a very peculiar taste in music, so depends on the day, I can go from Katy Perry to David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac in an instant. I traveled through decades and my playlist is adaptable. If I want to be happy in an instant, I will listen to Mariah Carey. I recently bought a karaoke mic and I’m driving my neighbors up a wall while singing “Emotions”. At least they stopped stomping in my head at 6 AM.

Food ( either cooking or eating it)

I get hanger. I don’t know how to deal with the feeling of being hungry. It puts me on a spiral of emotions and drama, I overreact to simple things, and have I mentioned drama? I love food. That’s a given and I also love cooking. I’m constantly checking for recipes and trying new ways to improve my meals. We don’t allow mac’n’cheese or frozen lasagna in this house. The joy of serving other people also makes me feel alive. For me, the act of cooking for someone else shows great compassion and caring for others. Food is energy and if you have good energy, it should be shared.

Observe the nature around me

Great things happen when you are not being distracted by your phone. A walk in the park can be refreshing and you can observe different scenarios every time you are out. Living in Colorado, I can see the front range mountains and it looks like a painting on the wall. Hiking gives you another sense of adventure and you can listen to nature and relaxing with the quietness, even though most of the time Mariah is singing her jams rent-free in my head.

Visiting my family in Brazil.

That’s the one thing that brings me the most peace and keeps me centered. Living in the United States, makes me feel I’m losing my identity, little by little. I know who I’m, but my life fluctuates between two different cultures.

My past and my present collide, sometimes I question my choices. When I’m in Brazil, I have all the love from my family, my food, my music, my tv shows. When I’m in America I have financial stability, some sense of security, and all the makeup Mac can make, that back home would cost me an eye and a leg. Life choices, am I right?

That’s how I see myself living in America.

I don’t regret living here, but I would like to go back to visit more often. My parents are getting old and I haven’t been there enough. Do you know that “missing hug people” you felt the entire last year? I have been in this situation for years

Find whatever makes you happy.

I read once that happiness is a feeling and not a constant state. That made a lot of difference in how I pursue things in my life. Gratitude and the simple things I can achieve helps me to move forward in life, without being so hard on myself.

That’s my list of what makes me feel alive. What’s on your list? Dogs, cats? Ice cream, traveling? Let me know in the comments!



All the roads leading back to Colorado

It’s been a hard couple of days and I can believe we are moving again!

It’s been a hard couple of days, as I try to box the entire house to move again. Hard to concentrate, hard to get things done, always being distracted by the new possibilities I might find in my new home. Every time I seat at my table to write, I look at the blank page for a couple of minutes, until I get up again, and start to pack another room of the house.

I’m dusting off my snow boots!

All this move has affected my creativity in every possible way. I cannot just turn off my problems and sit down to write. Not this time. We are moving to Colorado, after spending a year trying to make it in Austin, Texas. I can’t believe I’m dusting off my boots after only a year!

Austin is a very nice place if you fit in one of the boxes: you either work for a tech company, you live up the north side of town, or you are part of the young bubble that can afford to pay 1800 in a studio apartment. California prices in Austin are beyond the reality of normal who wants to make a living here.

My jobs are always related to the hospitality industry, I have over fourteen years of working with it, always being in front of the house, yet, I couldn’t get a job in Austin. I see it as either a sign for me to keep improving and getting better in a different area of Austin doesn’t like outsiders, who are not from Texas. I lived in the South before, and I faced the same difficulties I have been facing here.

I don’t know what to expect this time

I don’t know what to expect from Denver, because I’m trying to keep my peaceful state of mind to not freak out. When I lived in Eagle-Vail, in the 2009 winter season, I went to Denver for short trips, I never actually lived there. In 2009, I worked at The Ritz Carlton- Bachelor Gulch, in Avon, but the hotel decided to close for maintenance after the winter season. Most likely because of the Financial crisis.

I couldn’t get a transfer replacement and my visa was canceled by the company, as they sent all the international employees back home. It was one of the biggest disappointments of my life. When the opportunity to relocate appears the first thought in my mind was “You won’t ship me back home, bitch! Not this time!”

Young Joana in 2009 at Vail ski slopes

Colorado is a beautiful state and two of my best friends live there, the other Sanderson Sisters. I can’t wait to be close to them. I don’t ski, but I do enjoy watching people coming down the slopes, while I eat at the restaurant.

Moving again is nerve racking and that’s why it has been so hard to concentrate. When you work in a hotel, you just shut down any feelings, put your clown make up one, and pretend your problems don’t exist. It’s hard to do that when you are working from home.

Managing distractions

With the distractions I have to manage, my inability to sit still, and the phone, it usually gets me staring at the wall, in disbelief of my purposes in life. I’m not sure if it’s the Covid Era we are living through, my move, or I’m tired of everything and just need a break. A real break. But with that, it also comes with the stupid idea of taking a break from something you are working on, which means you are being inconsistent and unreliable. I have been reading a lot on what makes a blog a better blog and this is another point of exhaustion.Pinterest is driving me nuts.

Just like Instagram for the normal people and Linkedin for the Ceo, Pinterest comes in a category of distraction and a world of possibilities of what could wrong trying. Whatever you click on, you get more and more of the same. Just like every other social media, it’s set up to control you and drive you crazy. Posts like “10 reasons why your blog is not working” or “ Start making 30K a month in 6 months blogging”.

Here is what they don’t tell you:

1: You have to have a strong niche, like a fit blog, mommy blog, cooking blog

2: You have to post consistently, like many posts a month, build a following with a mailing list, live, and breathe the blog.

3: It’s not instant. It might take time and commitment.

Honestly, I’m almost sure that people with successful blogs are the ones writing it. They make the blog a company and start hiring people for different areas. It’s a team job. You have to have a business plan, a social media crew, and all those things cost money, and not all of us have investors. Some of us start from the bottom.

Writing the posts myself, it gets hard to concentrate when hard times hit. I ran out of my CBD oil at the worst possible time, so I’m relying on my homeopathic Brazilian medicine. The message my friends, it’s giving yourself time to just wander. Life is not a competition and mental health is more important than ever, as I repeat myself.

Go ahead and teach yourself some new tricks

Learn about blogging its important to keep me motivated, another reason why I’m not too inclined to write posts these days. I’m improving my other pages on the blog to boost the SEO traffic, learning how to market on social media. I’ve watch plenty of youtube videos about rich kids who made a blog about decoration at their first apartment. In reality, I guess that was where the exhaustion part comes from. When all I learned starts working, I will write about it.

Let me know in the comments what are you working on to improve your blogging skills and if you have ever been to Colorado!

2009 – Vail

What’s food got to do with it.

I love talking about food and creations, this is probably my favorite subject because I grew up surrounded by my parents’ hope of succeeding in the food industry and my mom working alone to raise me, while working with food, to feed us.

I remember the day when she was at the kitchen cooking her lunch boxes and she told me something would stick with me forever: “If you work with food, you will never be out of a job. People stop buying shoes, clothes, and earrings, but they will never stop eating.”

From that point on, it was ingrained in my brain, that I would never be jobless or broke, as long as I knew how to either cook or work in a restaurant. That’s exactly what I did for many years.

At Two Birds Taphouse in Marietta- 2016
Brie on the menu for New Years Eve- at Two Birds Taphouse- 2016

In 2009 when I was working in a ski resort in Colorado, I realized that people working in a higher position at the restaurant were loading in money. Not only the managers and Food and Beverage director, but the servers were making good money too.

Where it all began.

Spago was my first restaurant job, as a hostess, and I had no idea what I got myself into until I start my training. The Ritz Carlton has very specific training, from your voice tone to the way you address the VIP guests. At that time, I was trained to not talk with my hands.

I’m from Brazil, and if we don’t express ourselves with gestures, might as well mute us, instead of try engaging in a conversation. Anyway, I was heavily trained to work with wealthy people, even though it was 2009 and the financial crisis were booming, I don’t think it affected the riches. It never does, as they keep living like their fortunes are save, meanwhile, the peasants, are scrapping to get by and will always be there to serve them.

Waitressing in wonderland

Every day at the restaurant we had a pre-shift meeting, to talk about the specials and how the servers would pair the wines with the dishes. My favorite part of it all was the tasting of the food, the humiliation of the servers by the chef and managers came as side dish. One of my main duties was switching the menu for the day, I remember talking with one of my co-workers about the price of the salad, at that time, 23.00.

I started calculating how much would it be for a dinner of 1, then I multiplied by a family of four, adding wine and drinks, coming to the conclusion that the server was making a minimum of 50 dollars after tipping the other working peasants, like the hostess, busboy and food runner. On a Tuesday night. I can’t fathom about a fully booked Saturday night.

After those months working at the Ski resort, I figured out that I wanted to work with restaurants. Young and naive 23 years old me, thought about that daily aggression they call job, as a career. I started planning what would be my next move, think about it for months, and while in Australia, I decided I should go to Culinary School back in my country. I’m moved by plans and that would be my next step, as my internship there was coming to an end. Back in Brazil, I applied for Culinary School.

I love cooking, but I’m not about the pressure.

Culinary School was amazing and painful, as I cut myself multiple times. I enjoyed the classes, but something was off. Probably the fact that, as in restaurants, you have to deal with a lot of ego and people who know a little bit more than you, or a bit less, trying to make you look stupid.

Heck, I was there to learn and the feeling that I had was that I was paying for the school brand and not the learning itself. Friendships were flouring, people being part of groups and cookouts, and I was left out. Over and over.

I wanted to learn how to cook, simple cooking and go from there. How can you know all the types of french cutting names, like battonet, julienne, measurements and all, when they tell you not to season the chicken, to not lose it the original taste. Yes, sir, I want my chicken tasting like a dead animal, at this point, I should leave the feathers for garnishing?

Nothing it was being taught made sense. At the same level of insanity, I learned how to deboned a quail. The stress of removing the bones of a tiny little bird is real. I got to taste it, which I didn’t want to, but I guess once again, degrading yourself is part of working in a kitchen according to them.

So when I moved to Chicago, I upgraded myself to be part of Front of the House, aka Server. I would talk about food, sell it, without having to be in the kitchen, tasting little birds.

Restaurants always have the same troupes.

I worked in many restaurants and they all have one thing in common, not the food, the people. Here is how I separate the crew: A dumb boss, who listens to people he is not supposed to, like the senior server. An assistant manager that does all the job, the boss is getting paid to do.

The food runner, delivering food to the wrong places and wrecking the entire restaurant system, the busboy who takes his time to do whatever he is asked because according to him, he is not getting paid enough to do this job and the server could perfectly do it. The rude bartender.

The magic behind the bar is real, when I had to make a couple of drinks one time, it was like some powerful awakening took over my body, for no reason I yelled, “Get your lemons somewhere else or cut your own.”Bartending power trip is real. Last and most important of the food chain, the Server, that deserves their own paragraph.

You can do it all!

If you ever work as a server, you are capable to work in any field. Servers are sales associate, marketing, food connoisseurs, team leaders, stress jugglers, working under a high level of stress, skilled improv masters, especially on Valentine’s day, Restaurant Week. Mother’s Day will deserve an entire post alone.

On a busy Saturday night, servers dance like the ballet of serving food, drinking coffee and RedBull to be awake, and downing some heavy alcohol to be able to sleep. Besides it all, serving food has some perks.

While working in a restaurant, I learned and tried wines I would never be able to afford and ate all kinds of different food. From sushi to wood oven pizza, to steak salad and Italian hand made gnocchi. Learned about different cultures through food and learned other people culturally eating habits. I learned fast what countries don’t tip and their peculiar way of ordering.

Above it all, my love for food was what kept me finding jobs at restaurants. After a few years in the industry, I call it quits to write.

Today marks a year I left the restaurant industry. Am I making money with writing? Not yet, but I’m once again working with food, this time my dear friend and chef created a position for me at her uprising company, where I can take photos of her private dinners and plates, also doing some admin stuff. We talk about food all day. We talk about clientele and how clueless the requests are.

We didn’t stop working on quarantine, we masked up, kept a distance, and did the work. Like my mom said, people will stop buying random stuff, but they will always buy food.

Chef Demeatrie its the creator and owner of Starving Gypsy here in South Austin,Texas. She can be found in all social media’s handles @starvinggypsy and on her website https://thestarvinggypsy.net/ where you find some great pictures ☺️

Be safe, Stay healthy !

J.G Snelly.

The case of the Lost File

Last Thursday, I had almost an entire post written and was ready to publish. The post was worded correctly and the voice sounded unique, because I was writing from a relaxed point of view. I wrote on the app that I use, called Writer’s Work. Besides it sometimes being shady, telling me that my writing level is at a 7th grade level, it works well because it’s easier to correct the grammar and misspelled words. Let me tell you: it worked well until that day.

As I normally do, I write the blog post and let it marinate for a couple of hours or even days. It’s something that I learned at Writing School, it implies that sometimes, you might want to add to it, or remove something, even change the entire post. It happens a lot when you write prose. I wrote nicely, fancy words and all (still 7th grade stats) and left to make dinner. A few hours later, I promptly sat myself down to write again, opened the app and there was my document titled “untitled”. There was a blank page. I looked for another document’s title “untitled”, still nothing. I was confused and dismayed, “was I dreaming? Did I really write this?” Yes, I did, this app sure is shady, it still told me how many words I had written that day and the count of my words per minute. I felt betrayed. I kept searching as the document was there, as it usually is, but this time completely blank. I just want them to give me back those stats that made me feel humiliated! I need the words I wrote two hours ago! Nothing.

I’m glad that I don’t use the app to make money, even though there are plenty of writing jobs on the board, but the interesting ones are gone fast, I can’t even get to them in time. Apparently, everyone is a writer these days. I can’t imagine the frustration of losing a manuscript or any important document, and having to start all over. I had only about 700 words on the document I lost and it’s hard to get back and rewrite. I took a few days away to marinate on the blank page I ended up with, finally today I found the motivation I needed.

During the Quarantine, like most of the planet, I had a lot of time to think about my priorities and realign my energy. Like a cosmic explosion, I concluded what kept me motivated to keeps me moving forwards with my projects, is this blog. I know I have a few readers and subscribers, to be completely honest, there are 23 followers, my mom is not included in this number, so I know it’s real people.  Shout out for you dear reader! My intention with this blog is not to sell you any classes, free trials, or download any files. I’m not going to ask you to follow me in every social media possible or subscribe to my YouTube channel. This is not what this blog is about. These are words about my humble beginning.

I have seen a lot of people teaching you the formula of success, and there is nothing wrong with that. What I never saw was a blog post about people going through the same struggles as me. At the beginning of their journey, when they fall numerous times, trying to get their work done and their voices heard. I’ve seen a lot of successful people telling you, that you can do it, believe me, I love positive messages. The truth is, the beginning is hard. You probably seen so many motivational quotes like “Oprah was poor, Tina Fey failed, Bill Gates started in a garage.” Well, good for them, this is their stories, their path, not yours. That’s why I write on this blog, it keeps me motivated to keep going and putting my words out there. If I didn’t have any projects, I would not be here every week writing my words with expectations of getting work done. That’s the way I found to keep producing content.

The free time also cleared my mind, letting me focus on what I really want to work with. I realized that I want to write web series scripts and produce content. I know I wrote that before, but now I’m sure, sure (I’m reading this like Kelly Kapoor, from The Office). When quarantine is over, hopefully it will be soon, I intend to apply for some screenwriting classes and contests. I was talking to a friend who participated in one of these contests last week, made me eager to interact with people who has the same level of enthusiasm that I do. I enjoy the feedback part, which is weird, because I hated it during in Writing school. I guess having feedback from people who knows little to nothing is harsh, because they judge you by your Avatar picture on the school’s platform. A few times I asked myself “Did they even read my story?” I did enjoy the teacher’s feedback, which was also harsh, but at least useful.

In producing content, this week I finished the short story I was working on, called temporally “The lovely grave”. I’m on the editing level, and this is the hardest part, no doubt about it. It needs to be more horror than drama. What happened to the story was, I made the ghost too likable and passionate, to be honest, being a mafia guy from 1920’s with a fedora hat and a vest, didn’t help to make him scary, not in the least bit of a ghostly manner. Now I need to go back and revise all the acts. It’s not Gore Horror, its more “what would I do if this happen to me” kind of horror. I would also like it to make it into a short script after.  

That’s it for now. Well, I had written, on the previous probably deleted post, an entire analogy about my will of writing being like a 1985 Chevet, but now it not make any sense, so I will let it go and save it for another time.

Check out the comic strip I made based on when I worked in the service industry.


Be safe out there!


A Writer is Born.

The turmoil in my life continues, but at least I have good news. The past week has been productive as writing, I managed to write an article about the SkyScrapper Technique, suggested by my mentor for my apprenticeship. Even though there was a miscommunication, and I wrote the article about the examples he sent to me, and not on web design as he wanted, I increased my ability of time management when it comes to writing. The research part took me a little longer than what I was expecting because I’m not familiar with SEO techniques. Well, I’m now, after reading so much about, I feel like a pro.

I continued to apply for different writing jobs on Indeed and got an offer, one for a magazine that is launching in February, so for now, we will start writing articles and publishing. It’s not paid, and I’m OK with that. I will be writing about Pop Culture, I still have to send the editor my writing samples and write five articles about subjects he suggested. I’m happy and overwhelmed at the same time. Overwhelmed, because after crying out loud for weeks, the universe lined up my energy and I started focusing on the good, myself and my ability to walk by myself. Happy because if this project works out, I will be working with something I always wanted. Writing about movies, TV, and music and some pretty cool. Lord help me, I can manage this during this move down to Texas. And while I wait for my second green card to be approved. It’s been two years that I applied. I’m still on the running to get America’s Next Citizenship.

This week also, I found my way around the Writer’s Work app, it turned out to be fun and effective. I started writing a different article, but I’m not ready to publish anything yet.

I’m insecure or drained from all the expectations, or its lack of focus because I have a lot going on right now. Every time I sat down to write, I want to pack for my move to Austin, TX and clean the house. I read on twitter, on the Writing Community, that this is common among the other writers, and if, please let me know in the comments how does this works for you, and how do you fix it the distractions? Right now I have some piano songs blasting inside my ears, with noise-canceling earbuds. Much better than Anime as white noise.

My goal for next week is to finish the articles before my trip. It will take me about 6 days on the road down to Texas, we are stopping and checking some cities on the way. I’m too old to drive 14 hours straight. Or even 6 to be honest. Being honest I don’t drive, my husband will take the wheel.

For this week, this is all the progress I have done. Got some cool writing to do, finish the article about web design and try to keep the focus! I found this prompt on Pinterest and I hope it makes sense to you, as it made for me. That is last week summarized

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