Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. in Middle/High Schools

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This Friday, I was frustrated when my school’s cancellation of this year’s MLK assembly was replaced by Oprah’s Golden Globes speech. The purpose, we were told, was to show how Oprah credits Dr. King as an instrumental part of her success. While Oprah’s speech was undoubtedly moving, it felt like a last-minute substitution for our MLK assembly. To be blunt, it had nothing to do with Martin Luther King Jr.
We are forgetting his diagnosis of America’s sickness and immediate call for action. This systemic sickness further marginalizes poor people, people of color,  immigrants, the list goes on.

While scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a post advocating the Poor People’s Campaign in honor of MLK day. The basic premise of the PPC is to call for equal rights among poor people by uniting Americans, regardless of race, religion, political belief, etc. It was started in 1968 by MLK and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 2nd half of the Civil Rights Movement. (I don’t want to oversimplify. To read more on the PPC, click here.)
What frustrates me is that we aren’t taught this at my school— I know my school isn’t the only one misrepresenting MLK.

While it’s often easier to skirt along MLK’s basic message of peaceful protest or post an Instagram picture of him with a quote, we are failing to educate future generations when we neglect to discuss MLK in a school setting.
Let us uphold MLK’s legacy in school by:
1. Educating students about MLK’s work with the PPC and SCLC and his specific methods of protest.

2. Teaching students how to effectively engage in difficult dialogue on race/economic inequity

3. Teaching students how to practice methods of peaceful protest.

4. Providing information about community resources that support PoC (through visual art, workshops, rallies, etc)

5. Inviting modern civil rights leaders to speak about MLK and how their work has been impacted by his legacy.
MLK’s voice started a movement that continues to be more prevalent than ever— we can do better to educate young people on how to use their voice for the breakdown of institutional oppression.

Here’s another link, which discusses MLK’s forward-thinking views on the link between war spending and systemic racism: MLK’s views on Vietnam War


The Restaurant Metaphor

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I always lived with the belief that if you want something, you have to live with the attitude that will bring your desired outcome.

I like to think about a restaurant as a metaphor for life.

 You are the chef of this restaurant and you create all the meals. If you believe your dishes will be delicious, then you will put in extra effort to make sure the lobster bisque turns out just right. On the other hand, if you believe your meals will taste like garbage, then of COURSE you’re going to add too much salt or burn the soup. (Speaking of which, is the latter even possible?!)

I’ll come back to this metaphor later.

 I truly believe that what you put out into the world is what you get back. If you give love and positivity, those good things will come back to you.

However, in my AP Literature class, while we read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which portrays existentialist traits of randomness and injustice in society, I began to question my initial beliefs. Look around at all the sickness, tragedies, and violence. Is the world really fair?

We were prompted to write a few sentences about our ideal city. My city included improved, free resources for dealing with mental health and abuse and ran completely on clean energy. I also described it as celebratory of all religions and the LGBTQ community. We were then asked to share. Unsurprisingly, my classmates answered with similar views: no violence, no poverty, the list goes on.

My teacher then asked us the following questions: Can we end poverty and sickness? Do you think it’s possible to end all war and violence? 

Personally, I’m not sure. I became skeptical about there being some “larger truth” of the universe. Maybe the world really is just a random, meaningless place, I thought.

Philosophers like Plato and Buddha dedicated their entire lives searching for the meaning of life… then hundreds of years later, Nietzche, Kierkegaard, and Sartre lay some major objection bombs and send the general public into a vat of existential crises. (Just kidding, listen to your humanities/history teacher for the real facts.)

While no one knows for certain if there is some higher truth about the world, I believe it’s important to not just give up and say, “Hey! You know what? Life is meaningless so I am just not going to care about anything!”

Instead, I got to thinking: can I do something to better the life of another human being? To which I immediately said (literally out loud): “yes.” For me, life about taking action and practicing what you preach (oh yes, I went there with the cliché).

Going back to the restaurant metaphor, I forgot to mention that you are not only the chef, but SURPRISE! You own the restaurant. This means that you are not only responsible for cooking delicious meals for yourself, but you also must be able to feed your customers and make sure there are enough seats to accommodate more than yourself.

To put it simply, the customers are the people around you who cannot afford to cook their own meals.

The ability to brainstorm a perfect world is a luxury. For many of my peers (myself included), we can dream endlessly of a perfect world and still have a life with—at the very minimum—our basic needs met. But simply thinking and planning are not enough. 

Life isn’t always fair. There is so much poverty, sickness, and violence around the world. Often, people in those situations are defenseless or have difficulty acquiring necessary resources. It is up to people with platforms and voices—the chefs— to be proactive in helping others.  

When I say, “if you put goodness into the world, you will get it back,” I mean: if you have the ability to influence a situation in your life, then take action. And if you are in a position to help others, spread that goodness around by taking action so more people can sit at the table. 

blog pic 5

Will we end poverty? Or war? Such broad statements are hard to answer. But can we bring more chairs to the table so more people can eat? Absolutely.

The world is not always fair, but we can make it safer, more welcoming, and happier if we use what is given to us to help others.

I challenge you to do something this holiday season, even if you want to start small, to help another person…And don’t forget to take time for yourself too 🙂 

Put your goal into writing and comment below!

All rights reserved (c) 2017 Luisa Rodriguez.

My current project/ inspiration behind this post:

I’m currently working on a school-wide fundraiser for YouthCare, a nonprofit (local to WA, U.S.) whose mission is to end teen homelessness in the Seattle area. As a school, our goal is to raise $4,000 and other needed supplies. If you wish to donate to YouthCare, please feel free to donate at this link (if you are affiliated with International Community School, please put “ICS fundraiser” in the comments of the donation link so we can track your donation to our goal!)

 For more information about YouthCare, visit



What is Patriotism?

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Happy fourth! 
During my humanities class this past year, we discussed patriotism and its role in literature. We read articles of various viewpoints on what patriotism means to different people (from 18th century farmers to a Stanford professor). As I reflect on this, I have been led to question: 
What does patriotism mean to me?

To me, patriotism isn’t boasting how great our country is over others. It isn’t a way to say, “America is the greatest, it is the best!” 

America is great in many ways, but we should not use such broad statements. America also has its fair share of flaws, and to me, patriotism means working on these flaws to create a more equitable country for ALL its citizens. To me, patriotism means that we recognize our great power; and we must also show sympathy for countries who are not in our same position.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”** 

I believe that our responsibility as Americans is not to turn a blind eye. Not to be ignorant or apathetic to those who have less than us. With current political leaders who do not represent these sets of beliefs I (and many others) hold, it is our job as the people of this country to clearly redefine the true meaning of patriotism.

This means speaking up for black lives, Muslims, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups. 

This means not letting America get away with things that leave lasting damage on people in other countries (such as the chemical attacks in Syria). 

This means that healthcare is a RIGHT not a PRIVILEGE. 

To me, patriotism means that we can celebrate this nation while at the same time recognizing its flaws. America is beautiful, and I am proud to be American. However, we have a lot of work to do to create a more equitable, aware country. 

I implore you to think about how you can practice mindful patriotism.

What does patriotism mean to you?

(**note: I looked up various sources to find the author of this quote, but was unable to find this person. Some credit Voltaire, others say it was Spider-Man comics. Please comment below if you know the author. Do not quote me on this, it is not mine.$

Poem For Someone

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You are all that you need.

I am my strength, 

I am my uplifting spirit. 

I am the greatness I seek. 

I am strong,

 I am independent, 

and I stand for what I believe.

 I used to rely on you

To tell me that I was good.

That I worked hard enough.

I wanted that validation.

I don’t know if I will ever make you proud enough
To see all I do

And not have to criticize it after

Or count each measure

To make sure I’m perfect
Because I know I will never be

Perfect enough
But enough is perfect for me.
I know my self-worth

And I know who I am.
I know I don’t owe you anything

And you won’t understand
How much pain it used to cause me

When I was always searching 

For that glimmer of approval

In your eyes 
But I’m stronger now

And I don’t need you now.
I am more powerful than ever before
And Ive accepted that you can’t recognize 
That I am perfect enough

Perfect enough for me. 

Copyright Luisa C. Rodriguez 2016

“I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, But I’m on My Way”- Carl Sagan

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Note: With the exception of spell-check, this article is completely unedited. Everything you see is exactly as I originally wrote it. 

Sometimes I think…

And I think

And think

…. And think.

About what I want to do with my life. What am I supposed to do with my life?

I have many interests. You know when you were at a carnival as a kid, and saw all these toys, and when you FINALLY won the toy, you wonder whether you could’ve gotten a bigger one? Or a better one?

This has always been my worry. I mean in life, not just at carnivals. 

I have many activities I am involved in, and love them all. I love violin. I love fashion. I love public  speaking. I love writing everything and anything. I also rediscovered my passion for acting recently after having been discouraged from school plays since my dormouse days in Alice in Wonderland. Did that sentence even make sense?

This is exactly my thought process. I can’t choose. Maybe I don’t have to choose one passion. I used to worry, worry, worry about the person I would be some day. 

Do you ever feel like you’re destined for something, but you just can’t quite put your finger on what it is?

Yeah. When I was in 5th grade, I was SET on being a fashion designer. I just knew that was my destiny. Could I sew? Nope. But that didn’t stop me from filling out hundreds of pages of sketch paper with outfit designs. 

And then came 9th grade, which, technically speaking, was last year. I had noooo idea what I was going to do with my life. I loved violin (still do), but I also loved fashion (STILL do). 

And I just couldn’t see myself doing both at the same time. 

So then I decided this year that I would want to become a musician. THAT would be my future. Playing lots of violin every day for the rest of my life. But becoming a musician is not that simple. You have to start preparing repertoire to audition to get into music conservatories in high school. You can’t make school or other activities your number one. 

And this kind of scared me. 

How the hell am I supposed to make school second? Drop my clubs? No AP classes? What if I go into music and realize it’s the wrong thing for me? 

In short, my thoughts became: OH NO WHAT IF I FAIL AT LIFEEEE????!!!!!

I immediately wondered if becoming a musician was the right thing for me. On one hand, I love music with all my heart, and I feel like I can communicate a story to an audience in ways that words can’t. But in other ways, I wonder if there’s something else out there for me. 

I also realized this wasn’t fair to myself. How could I lock myself into one thing? Why didn’t I let myself be imaginative and realize that I can do and be many things?
I let go of my fear of not knowing.

I was being way too closed off, and really just caging myself in. 

 I decided to stop worrying, and to just absorb everything that comes my way. I am going to be open to everything. 

I feel strongest in the arts, and the idea of coding and doing math and science sounds quite daunting. 

But who knows? I could end up being a computer scientist! Or a brain surgeon. I don’t know!

That’s okay. I accept that I do not know where I am headed. 

There’s this quote (not my own, idk who said this) that always reminds me to chill: 

Be inspired! Take in everything you can! I hope that if you are feeling  confused about what you want from life, you know you’re never alone 🙂

 Wishing you a lovely week!



Unedited, No Filter, No Makeup

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As the year wraps up, I’m starting to understand myself more and more. I won’t make any promises or resolutions to myself. That’s not fair. I’m human, and I’m changing constantly. I hope to become more sophisticated in my language. I’ve always hoped to be like that. On Christmas Day, I had the lovely opportunity to see one of my grandma’s closest friends: Rose Marie. She is so elegant. Probably one of the most lovely women I’ve ever met. She is so gracious and has such a regal air about her. She inspired me with every word she said that evening. I don’t think it was even what she said. You can just tell she genuinely loves life and that she is comfortable with herself. I hope in 2016 I can be more like her: appreciative and loving of life. More present and engaged. 

I won’t make a resolution. I will work every day to be more mindful of my words, of my behavior, and of my actions.  Earlier this year, I was really into posting pretty pictures on Instagram. Food, things, scenery, you name it. It made me happy to post these things. Recently, I posted something of that kind: my lunch. Probably 10 minutes after posting that, I started to feel a bit sad. Maybe sad is too strong of a word. You know when you listen to some music-specifically the first movement of Bach Sonata No. 1-and there’s something underlying in the melody that’s a bit melancholic? Yes. Melancholy is the word I was reaching for. I felt melancholic after posting a picture of my lunch, some strawberry water, and my purse. I felt emptier than the substance of that photo. I deleted the picture, and instantly felt whole again. Strange, huh? Well, at that moment, I realized that posting those pretty things no longer makes me happy. It makes me feel hollow and narcissistic. 

I want to post real things. Experiences, people I love, places I love. I want to live and be present. I want to look at my food and pretty things and appreciate them for what they are. I don’t want to obsess over and make more of these items-this stuff-than they are. 

In 2016 I will be more alive. I will live. I won’t resolve to do things. I will simply be. I will strive and achieve. And that is enough. 

#TrendingTuesday: Is It Real?

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They say not to believe everything you see on the Internet. 

That the Internet is not reality.

Let’s talk about Instagram. Is it real? Are the colorful, visually appealing pictures on a person’s feed their world? 

The answer is no. The truth is, we only post what we want the world to see. We don’t snap pics of our faces at 1 am while we study for chemistry tests. 

But does that mean that what I  choose to show my followers is a lie? 

Think about it. 

Today I am going to share some things that I wouldn’t usually post on my Instagram.

About 6 weeks before this, you wouldn’t know that I stayed up till midnight almost every night to prepare for violin auditions. I didn’t show you the hours I stayed up with my violin and metronome, when everyone in my house was asleep. (I love my violin, but when it’s 11 and I still have to practice another hour, sleep is the only thing on my mind.)

I don’t show you my undereye circles, which keep getting darker.  

I didn’t show you the three breakdowns I have had just in the past few weeks of school over all the stress and pressure to do well, not just in school but in every aspect of my life. 

I am tired. 
And I still haven’t said everything going through my mind. Because it’s hard to talk about our problems.

But does that mean the photos I do post are fake? Are we all phonies?

I don’t think so. We post what we love. We post our passions- things that we can look at, no matter what it is, and feel an emotion. Happy? Inspired? It’s up to the person. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself, online and in real life.

When I post pictures on social media, I hope I can connect with someone. I try to post things that are colorful, fun, and remind me of my dreams.  I love fashion. I love music. I love my friends, my family, and life. In being true to myself, I hope that what I offer can inspire someone else to go after their goals, whatever those may be.  

We post what we want the world to see. 

What kind of message are you sending? ❤ 


Instagram: @lovelulugloss

#Trending Tuesday: Important Revelation I Made After Applying Eyeshadow

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Now, before you jump to conclusions based on the seemingly pretentious title, think about this: When was the last time you did something for YOU? 

Recently, I was watching some Gossip Girl, sitting in my room while my parents entertained guests downstairs, and dreaming off in my own world. I tend to do that a lot. Just sit by myself and enjoy my own company. And, maybe I watched one too many episodes of GG, but I decided I was going to do my makeup and put on a fancy dress and just dance around my room. And I did just that. I put on eyeshadow, blue and brown on one eye, purple and shimmery white on the other. I felt like a princess. I carefully applied pink lip gloss. I put on my red winter ball dress. And I danced around my room. I danced and twirled until I was dizzy. And it felt great. I was smiling. The whole time. Doing something for myself, even if no one was going to see me, was so fun. I took a few selfies because I almost never wear eyeshadow, and I almost never take selfies. I keep these photos for myself. Because when I look at them, I feel happy. I don’t need to document everything on camera and send it to social media to be happy. I did it for myself. For my joy and satisfaction. I felt beautiful. And you know what? No matter how ridiculous this story may sound, it was fun. I challenge you, reader, to do something for yourself. To not Snapchat or Instagram it. You don’t necessarily need to give yourself a makeover. Sometimes all you need o do is have 5 minutes to yourself. We usually don’t give ourselves permission to do things that might not be socially accepted (of course, don’t go murdering anyone now that you read this). But often, what is a little outrageous is usually just what we need to take a break from everyday life. Happiness really is a worthwhile goal. Take 30 minutes each week to do something by yourself. Go to dinner by yourself and don’t touch your phone. See that movie none of your friends want to watch. Do what you want. Do it for your happiness. ❤

#Trending Tuesday: Being Petite (and even if you aren’t, please read)

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I was measured for my height at the doctor’s the other day. I am just a liiiiittle over 5’1″. And I write to you because I have just come to accept my height. Many of us want to be a model’s height of about 5’8″ or more, myself included. I have always joked about how I plan on growing another five inches, despite my doctor saying that was wishful thinking. But the root of those jokes was an insecurity. 

There always seemed to be something about those tall girls. They were the “beautiful ones” or seemingly “models-in-the-making”. And I just was tired of being called “cute” because I am petite. I wanted to be tall and scouted to be a model (although In my mind I would nonchalantly decline all the hopeful agencies-hah!) In my mind, being tall meant being beautiful, and being short meant being only “cute” and “so adorable!” Don’t get me wrong, I always am flattered when people compliment me on that- it was my insecurity that made me feel like “cute” is all I am seen as. But I have come to realize some very important things:

1. What the hell is wrong with being cute?

2. Petite people are gorgeous, and you don’t have to be a model to prove it

3. I can wear freaking 6-inch heels if I want and still be shorter than my future husband (probably? Unless he’s short too, and in that case, we are going to be an adorably short couple)

4. Don’t let your looks define you. Cliché, sure, but in all honesty, your looks get you only so far. The rest is up to your glowing personality 😉

I sincerely hope you all learn something from this article, whether you are tall, short, curves, no curves, blonde, brunette, redheaded, and the list goes on. 

Let’s Be Realistic!

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This whole idea came to me while I was taking a shower. And it inspired a rather spontaneous write. 


“Let’s be realistic” or, “realistically thinking”, is often told to people who “dream too big”. But that’s a negative way to think of it. Being realistic is not about downsizing your dreams. Being realistic means that the world is huge and opportunities are endless. Being realistic means that it will take hard work to reach your goals. And your dreams are completely, infinitely up to you to imagine.

     It isn’t always easy to bolt after your goals. There are going to be challenges. Parents that want you to be a doctor, not an actor. Friends that think your love of poetry is too hippie-dippy. And most commonly, there is that little voice in all of our heads that says, “you know what? You can’t do it. So give up.” But that voice is not you. That voice is an external source, shaped and feeding off our surroundings in everyday life. You are, however, in control of that voice. You are who you want to be. Realistically speaking, you ARE what you make of yourself. You change yourself. You learn from yourself. And you can never dream too big. Shut up that little voice saying, “let’s be realistic…you can’t” by responding with, “let’s be realistic! I actually can!” Doors are open. Your journey to being who you want to be starts right… NOW!  

Top of The Rock

In front of the Flatiron Building 
 John Lennon Memorial with my best friend, Abbey, in Central Park