Today's Youth and Spirituality

The words "God, Religion, Spirituality" all have a negative connotation in modern youth. When asked, "Do you believe in God?" you get the typical answer: "Kind of. I guess. Sure. Maybe." Agnosticism is very popular within youth because they want to believe in something more, but they are so uncertain what to believe in, or if there even is something to believe in. What causes the uncertainty? I'll tell you.

We live in a very materialistic, superficial age right now. An age where there are thousands of religions in this world; and millions of beliefs. An age where social media is huge, and every single belief is exposed. An age where young people are vulnerable, easily influenced, and often lost. As we exit childhood, and begin to grow older: it is very easy to lose our spirituality. It is very easy to be cynical opposed to being that happy child full of wonder. Don't let this happen to you. Remember your inner essence.

Christianity, very popular within Western culture, is losing young believers. Let me elaborate a bit more.
"I'm gay, and christianity hates gay people. If there was a God, he wouldn't make me this way."
"There are so many contradictions in the Bible."
"God hates women and believes they should submit to a man. I'm my own person."
"The Bible is all for slavery. I don't want to believe in a God that thinks slavery is okay."
"According to the bible, wearing polyester  and playing football is wrong. What the hell?"
"You expect me to believe the fairytales in the Bible?"

I could go on for quite some time. Here is my message for you: DO NOT TAKE RELIGION SO LITERALLY. The Bible is one of many "holy books." The reason I decided to speak about the Bible is because it is the most controversial in our modern American culture. Keep in mind...these books were written by people. Edited by people. A lot of the things written are supposed to be metaphors. A lot of the things written in holy books are interpreted in different ways. Do not base your spirituality off of what a book written thousands of years ago by people, just like you wrote. There is probably not a man with a beard sitting on a cloud damning us to hell, but just because certain beliefs in certain religions do not seem valid to you, does not mean you need to dismiss spirituality entirely.

  • 'My Life Sucks' vs Soul Lessons: Now. "Why do bad things happen to me? My mom died of cancer. My boyfriend of 4 years left me. I lost my job. What did I do to deserve this? If God loved me, this would not happen." Ah, yes, the typical 'My life sucks. If there was a God, everything would be about unicorns and cupcakes.' Do not make this about God when you can't even define God. What is God to you? God is NOT a human. God is whatever you want it to be, whether it be love, a driving life force, the universe, or perhaps the creator of our souls. But do not blame everything on God. Here's a tip: negativity and doubt will not get you anywhere. If you throw those thoughts and feelings out into the universe, they will come back to you, only magnified. Bad things happen to all of us. They are meant to be felt, they are meant to be embraced. But just because bad things happen to you, does not mean the good things should be discredited. You probably aren't even acknowledging the good things. You let yourself feel the bad things, you let yourself complain, cry, and think about the bad things. Yet the good things just come and go. Do not let this happen. Feel, talk, smile, and think about the good things. Everything that happens to you is apart of your destiny. Everything that happens to you is a lesson. Everything that happens to you is for your souls growth.

  • Recognition vs Purpose: Purpose is something that today's youth sometimes lacks. Lack of purpose can cause doubt and depression. A spiritual guru when asked by a woman in his audience, "What is my purpose?" said, "Look at the person to your right. Look at the person to your left. That is your purpose. You aren't looking for your purpose, you just want fucking recognition." We all have a purpose. But we wonder...why is nobody praising me? Why hasn't anyone noticed my purpose? Validate yourself, don't wait for someone to validate you. Find your own purpose because sure, people will guide us to our purpose but no one will tell us our purpose, for that is up to you. Remember, not everyones purpose is to save the world and have 7 talents. Purpose isn't being recognized. Purpose isn't fame. We all are on an individual purpose for our soul's growth, but also...a world purpose: service.

  • Fame vs Service: In a recent survey with youth (10-30yrs), they were asked what they wanted more than anything. The answer was not fortune, love, or happiness. The answer was fame. I found this funny, because anyone can be famous. It's not about being's about how you get there. You can be on a reality show, you can murder 20 people in a shooting, you can eat 7 cockroaches in less than a minute, or you can eat a used tampon and post it on youtube. So, in all honesty, if you aren't doing something good with your fame: it's useless. Like I said before, our world purpose is service. Service to the customers at our job, service to our family and our friends, service to our significant other, service to the person that you open door for at the gas station. We are looking for recognition, not purpose. We are looking for fame, not service. That's why youth doubts so much: They are waiting for people to praise them! For everything to be perfect! For people to validate them! That is not how it works. We are here for other people. To make them smile. We all are given ethereal gifts, and we should embrace them to the world. They will make a difference in many lives. It does not matter if millions of people know your name. That will be erased with death. It doesn't matter. But service is not erased after death. When you touch a soul, that stays there forever. Serve other people. Find out your gifts and use them. 

  • Prayer vs Art: Prayer is often made fun of in the media. A lot of times, many people pray for something- and it doesn't work. People claim prayer is just talking to yourself, and has no benefit. Meditation and prayer are closely linked and actually, contrary to popular belief, help a lot of people. Prayer is basically letting out your deepest desires and sympathies, hoping somebody is listening. We are not aware if somebody is listening...but that does not mean prayer is bad. Hate to break it to you: but art is prayer. According to the Baha'i faith, art is prayer because we are creating. Just like the ultimate creator. In art, you unveil the depths of your soul. Your desires, your pain, your wonder. Art keeps many people sane. Art helps people. Prayer keeps people hopeful. In my personal belief, I believe in you really have hope for something, and you have faith, it can happen. If you keep being optimistic, the universe will help you. Who knows if there is actually some type of consciousness listening, but regardless, prayer helps us all. Prayer, to you, may not be getting down on your knees, bowing your head and talking to a God. But we all do it. And it helps us all.

Youth hates the idea of "fairytale" beliefs. I understand this, and science is making great discoveries. Sometimes it's hard to believe in something greater than us. But you can. In this materialistic, superficial age, it is your job to find your spirituality. To believe in something greater than us. That doesn't need to be a bearded man on a cloud. That does not need to be a God. But something greater than us. Lets face it: we all want to believe in an all loving, beautiful life force that flows within and without us. So why can't we? Oh wait, we can. You can. Being young is hard, I realize that. Remember: love is the universe's most power energy force. Love is greater than us. Love is the center of 99% of world religions. Love is within all of us. As the great Victor Hugo said, "To love another person is to see the face of God." Define purpose, define love, define God, define spirituality, define soul...and then maybe, just maybe- you can find your spirituality. I hope this post helped you reevaluate your spirituality. You may call me a dreamer, but I'm awake.

                         With Divine Love,
                                                 Maria Elena

Favorites of the Month #1: June

I am starting a new blog series called "Favorites of the Month!" This series will include my favorite things of the month. Each month it will vary: favorite movies, favorite drink, favorite place, favorite experience, and so on. Now welcome to the first blogpost of this series: JUNE!
TV Show: The Vampire Diaries
Damon, Elena, and Stefan. *SIGHS*
I was not expecting to fancy this show. First of all, vampire culture never interested me. The Vampire Diaries came out during that whole Twilight stage. Everyone was fascinated with vampires. And of course, before you know it, hundreds of vampire books, movies, and tv shows came out. Then, on one rainy June evening, when I was hacking into my boyfriends netflix, I decided to watch the pilot. Why? I'm not really sure. Whenever I heard someone reference The Vampire Diaries, it went in one ear and out the other. But I gave it a shot. Now...I'm addicted. I haven't been so invested in a TV show since The Office. While this show is certainly about's a lot more than that. There are three main characters: Elena, Stefan, and Damon. Stefan and Damon do not have a lot of common, other than the fact that they are both vampires and that they are brothers. Elena is the girl that they both are interested in. She looks exactly like Katherine Pierce, their 1864 lover who turned them into vampires. The three of them go through a lot together, mostly bad things, but somehow, they always end up sticking together. I love this show because there is a huge plot twist every episode, and it almost always ends with a cliffhanger. Another perk is: The actors are phenomenal. They know how to convey a lot of emotion. This show is a heavy drama, therefore, the actors must be able to foreshadow certain events with a simple glance or movement; which they do perfectly. And, as you can see by the photo, everyone is insanely attractive. Mystic Falls (the town they live in) is like a really messed up utopia. I highly suggest giving this show a shot. I'm only on the second season right now, but I plan on finishing all of the seasons. The Vampire Diaries is incredibly dark, mysterious and sexy. Come on, just watch the pilot...I bet you won't be able to stop there.
Fashion Accessory: Flower Crowns
Me with my favorite flower crown, from Charlotte Russe
June is the perfect month for flower crowns: leaving spring and starting summer! Flowers represent rebirth and new beginnings. Isn't that what summer is all about? Regardless of the season or occasion, I am almost always wearing flower crowns. I own about 7, and a lot of the times I make my own. Sometimes with real flowers, sometimes with fake flowers. They are easy to make- and they add zest to your outfit. On the left, you will see me pictured with my favorite flower crown. I like it because it goes around my whole head, opposed to just have three flowers on one side. It gives off medieval vibes, with pastel pink rosebuds, green leaves, and gold lining. A lot of the flower crowns I own are really flashy, meaning they are either too big or do not go with a lot of outfits. But this one is perfect! Flower crowns are not for everyone, but if they are for you: I suggest making your own so you can personalize it.
Chang's eggrolls! Not my photo.
Food: Eggrolls
Eggrolls were without a doubt my favorite food this June. I love how they are so crispy and crunchy on the outside, yet bursting with delicious taste and warm delicacy on the inside. I usually purchase Chang's frozen spring/eggrolls and make them myself. Veggie eggrolls, obviously. With sweet and sour sauce on the side. I can't even count how many eggrolls I ate this June, but each and everyone one of them were perfection. Yum.

Snack: Good Greens Bars
Blueberry bliss bar I had for breakfast a month ago. 
Good Greens Bars are quite literally flawless. They are packed with all the daily vitamins you need, directly from fruits and vegetables. They are vegan and non-gmo. And most importantly  they are delcious! I've tried every single flavor and there is not one I do not like. I love their slogan too: Infinitely good! As you can see by looking at the photo on the right, it has omega 3, 10g protein, 5g fiber, probiotics and antioxidants. These bars are very new, and originate in Ohio. (for once, I'm proud to be from Ohio) They recently expanded there company to Chicago, Pittsburgh, and New York I believe. But if you cannot find them at a store near you, I recommend going to their website.

Movie: EPIC
Me, when I saw EPIC! :)
If you aren't a fan of animated movies, you will change your mind when you see EPIC. Me, being the transcendentalist nerd I am, loved it and saw the underlying message within it. The message was basically: We are all one. You are never alone. We are all individuals but we all stick together, working for a good cause. There is a reason you are here. You may not be able to see it, but we are all connected. Just because you can't see something, does not mean its not there. Believe in yourself, others, and have faith. This movie hit home. I cried, but I always cry at movies. The animations of the characters were so adorable, the light humor made me laugh, and the cinematography was gorgeous  There was a part where the two lead characters were riding on a deer, and the sun was setting. I felt heavenly. Plus, the queen Beyonce is in this movie. Where can you go wrong with that? Many other awesome people such as Steven Tyler, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, and that bald guy with sunglasses who pretends to be a rapper are in it as well. This movie will make you reevaluate things. It takes place in nature, and I can guarantee you it will take you on a glorious adventure. 
She is literally a cupcake. A really cute cupcake.
Fictional Character: Rachel Berry
Yeah, I said it. Rachel Berry. Yes, the one from Glee. It took me years to realize it, but, Rachel Berry and I have a whole lot in common. I seriously die of laughter every time I watch Glee because of her little quirks. I find myself saying, "I THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY." She takes life very seriously. Every outfit she wears has to be perfect and she loves coordinating her outfits. She takes her relationship with Finn very, very seriously and sometimes annoys people with it. But she doesn't care because she is deeply in love. She is so committed to her dreams of performing and becomes a complete narcissistic bitch when performance season comes around. But she doesn't care because she knows she is capable of becoming a star. I love that about her. But under all of that drama queen craziness, she is the sweetest girl, who has a wise heart. Rachel Berry makes me feel less alone in this world, and gives me hope. I resonate with her deeply and I loved re-watching episodes of Glee this June, it made me feel full of joy. 

American Dreaming Granola

4 cups or whole wheat oats
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup organic agave syrup
1/3 cup flax seeds
5 chopped strawberries
1/2 cup of blueberries
1/4 cup of raisins
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the oats, fruit, flax seeds in a medium sized bowl. Pour the vegetable oil and agave syrup over the oat mixture. Add the vanilla extract, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove the granola from the oven and allow it to cool. Not only is this easy to make, but it's super healthy too. Enjoy!

Science as Faith

Guest writer 19 year old Sarah Appel from Wyoming wrote this piece of art. You can contact her at This is called Science as Faith, it contradicts the idea that a scientist/realist cannot be religious or spiritual. Enjoy...

So you’re a scientist. A realist.
There’s a possibility of life out there in the universe, or in the multiverse, and maybe the infinitiverse. You haven’t seen the elementary particles, but you can predict, and calculate that they are in fact there. You collect that data, and mark it as truth, or at least extreme likelihood.
And gravity is still a theory. You don’t know exactly how it works, but you can measure what you feel. This is faith. This is religion. This is belief in something that is not seen, but measured, calculated…felt.

So you’re a scientist…a realist.
There’s a possibility of life out there in the universe, or the multiverse…
But there’s no God. 
not even to you, a scientist,
Who knows the possibility of life out there in the universe,
Who knows how to manipulate the universe (elements) to create plastic, and ice cream, and computers, artificial intelligences.
Wouldn’t you, a scientist, believe that (out of the vastness of space) there might be life out there, much more advanced in intelligence than we?
That maybe, they started with fire too? Maybe they had to invent the wheel too? Maybe they questioned if there was other life out there too? That maybe they built computers too? That maybe they’ve learned enough over time to control time, and space? Maybe their technology is so advanced, that they could have created us, the way we create computers, and robots. But, instead of using metals and plastics, they used the very most fundamental building blocks in the universe… Maybe they’re teaching us to learn as they learned, so we can know as they know.
Maybe God is of this highest intelligence. Maybe God is the ultimate scientist, and maybe we are his beloved students.
You are a scientist…a realist. 
I am a scientist too. I am a realist. I am faithful as you, measuring things I have not seen for myself, because I have felt them. I feel spirit. I feel God. I feel the stars. I feel whole.

Turmeric: Outer Beauty, Inner Purity

Turmeric originated in India thousands of years ago. It is a spice with endless health benefits. When buying it, you should avoid turmeric supplements, non-organic turmeric, or turmeric with any unnecessary additives. While all sorts of brands work, my favorite is Simply Organic. To make it short and simple, I am going to list the benefits:

  • Improves digestion
  • Improves your immune system
  • Promotes flawless, healthy skin
  • Supports healthy joints and bones
  • Supports healthy blood and liver functions
  • Helps maintain a healthy cholesterol
  • Helps the aging process
  • Fights against cancer
  • Promotes heart health
  • Fights against Alzheimer's and promotes a good memory 
  • 6 times stronger than Vitamin E and C
  • Fights against anxiety and depression
  • Provides antioxidants to keep your cells healthy
  • Helps you live a longer life
  • Good for cleanses and detoxes, cleanses the toxins out of body
  • Promotes healthy nervous system
  • Absorbs vitamins and minerals
  • Supports eye health
  • Helps maintain blood sugar levels and helps with diabetes
  • Helps promote fertility in a female reproduction system
Instead of turning to medication when you feel sick, turmeric seems to do the job. If you have a headache, are feeling stressed out, highly fatigued, etc- make a smoothie with a shot of turmeric. Turmeric can be easily added to any meal. I usually add about a teaspoon to my smoothies and you can barely taste it. It can be added to soup, pasta, stir-fry, really anything! Like I mentioned earlier, it is vital that you get an organic brand. Because if it is not organic, you risk missing out on some health benefits. I wish you all the best, stay healthy!

Technicolor Eyes

25 Reasons to Try Vegetarian

"I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals." -Henry David Thoreau

  1. To reduce your risk of cancer
  2. To reduce your risk of diabetes
  3. To prevent global climate change
  4. We don't have to kill to be healthy
  5. Farmed animals are mutilated without painkillers
  6. To reduce your risk of heart disease
  7. Male chicks are ground up alive by the egg industry
  8. Factory farmed animals are denied everything that is natural to them (grass, air, exercise)
  9. To conserve land, water and energy
  10. To prevent deforestation and species extinction 
  11. Every vegetarian spares the life of over 50 animals each year
  12. Fish do feel pain
  13. To keep antibiotics working
  14. Animals are burned and drowned in scalding tanks
  15. Caring for dogs and cats and eating other animals is morally inconsistent
  16. Today's chickens and turkeys have been bred for pain
  17. Animals are defenseless
  18. You wouldn't wanna watch what they do to sick pigs
  19. To prevent water pollution
  20. Factory farmed animals are denied adequate veterinary care
  21. To treat animals as we want to be treated: they deserve a life like we do
  22. Why kill for a living?
  23. To maintain a healthy body weight
  24. The worlds greatest thinkers and humanitarians were vegetarians
  25. To live our values
If you have any questions about these, or want me to go into further detail, you can contact me personally or at!

Vegetarianism & I

Andrew on the right, and an awesome pamphlet (that inspired my next post)
on the left!

On June 1st, 2013, I went to Cleveland Vegfest (a vegan festival) with my lovely boyfriend Andrew. We have both been vegetarians for a while for various reasons. Once you open your mind to it, vegetarianism doesn't seem too bad. Quite frankly, it seems pretty ideal. What triggered it for me was: 1. Health, 2. Research, 3. Morals, and 4. Spirituality. Let me elaborate. (Just a little side note: I am not trying to convert anyone and I fully respect everyone regardless of what they eat. I get asked a lot about why I'm a vegetarian and here is my logic.)

1. Health: For some reason, people think they NEED meat to survive and be healthy. I constantly get asked questions, "Are you getting enough protein? What do you eat? Are you healthy?" Let me make it simple: I get more than enough protein. I eat a variety of food. And yes, I'm VERY healthy. Eliminating animal products, especially meat, from your diet increases your health and decreases your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so on. Keep in mind, it's not just the meat itself that does this, it's the way the meat is made. My health is very important to me and I just don't want to eat something that I consider equal to me.

My delicious vegan "chicken" salad sandwich. It came with quinoa salad. Yummy!
2. Research: If you do research on vegetarianism or veganism, you will find nothing but good results; of course if you use a credible source. The documentary Forks Over Knives really triggered some thoughts for me. It tells you the straight up truth about how animal products affect your diet and how we really don't need them. After attending Vegfest, I retained even more information.

3. Morals: I love animals, people, and the entire Earth. I consider animals my equal. It seems hypocritical to have a pet like a cat or dog and then eat pigs and cows. The way animals are killed is vicious, and I do not want to support that. When I look at an animal, I see a soul. They are absolutely defenseless and cannot make a choice. Humans have a higher consciousness  and morals, so why can't we make the choice to spare an innocent animals' life?

4. Spirituality: I once heard a quote from Native American culture stating, "When an animal is killed, it feels anxiety, fear, and pain. And when you eat that animal, you are consuming anxiety, fear, and pain." I thought of this more metaphorically. God created everything on this earth, and I believe we should treat everything with kindness! Some animals have gone extinct because we kill them for clothing or food.

Want to know more in detail? Read my next article: 25 Reasons to Try Vegetarian.

Berry Happy Smoothie Recipe

1 cup almond milk
2 tablespoons of flaxseeds or 1000 mg of flax oil
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 1/4 cups of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup ice
3/4 of a banana, chopped
1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
Optional: sweetener of your choice: honey, agave, etc.

Put the dairy and the ice in, the frozen fruit in, then the banana and seeds in. Blend and enjoy.