Culture

Quinceañera’s Are Getting A Makeover In The Time Of Coronavirus And One Teen Is Celebrating The Change

Coronavirus has put the breaks on pretty much everyone’s plans.

I mean, Coachella was postponed. Even the 2020 Olympics, which were supposed to take place in Tokyo this summer, have been postponed. Major family plans like quinceañeras have largely been put on hold as well – for obvious reasons. A quinceañera is usually a large family affair. They’re usually packed with family and friends, sometimes even the whole neighborhood, a church service, and a photoshoot.

So it makes sense for families to have postponed these very special events, since social distancing is proving to be the only truly effective method at combating the spread of the virus. However, one family got creative and celebrated their daughter’s big day.

This San Antonio teen was able to celebrate her big day with friends and family in a safe and fun way.

Like so many teens, Xóchitl had spent months planning her quince with her mom, Kristie. It’s one of the biggest days in many Latina’s young lives.

“Every little Hispanic girl dreams about her quinceañera and her wedding. Those are your two big days in your life,” Rodriguez, 45, from San Antonio, told NBC News.

“Usually, there is a Mass where the priest blesses you as you get ready for your transition, from being a young girl to becoming a woman, which of course we couldn’t do,” Rodriguez said, emotionally, over the phone.

Xóchitl and her mom had already spent hours shopping for the perfect gown and hours more planning her quinceañera before stay-at-home orders hit her hometown of San Antonio. In fact, her family had already organized both a mass and a fun-filled reception.

Then the Coronavirus hit and the family had to get creative.

Credit: Jimmy Rodriguez

San Antonio, like the rest of the country, had to implement strict stay-at-home orders in order to combat the pandemic. This left the Rodriguez family struggling to figure out how to celebrate their daughter’s big day and continuing with the tradition – despite a global health crisis.

It took some creativity and work, but Rodriguez and her husband, Jimmy, surprised Xóchitl on April 21 with a low-key but unforgettable version of her big day: a drive-by quinceañera. Xochitl was able to share it with her closest family and friends – at a safe distance.

Still, there are aspects of the tradition that families miss.

“It was very different, because our culture is very much about physical affection — you know, the hugging, the kissing, the touching — and it was really hard to see them and not be able to touch them,” Rodriguez said, speaking of the relatives and friends who came to cheer Xóchitl on.

Her quinceañera has gone viral thanks to the family’s creativity and perseverance.

Credit: Jimmy Rodriguez

They managed to keep the idea from Xochitl until the big moment came.

“We had blown up the balloons the night before and had kept them in the garage and then kind of made the mad dash to decorate the yard when it was time for her to go outside,” Kristie said.

Then, the family went outside and greeted her socially-distanced guests in her dress and her tiara. Instead of damas and chambelanes, the family pulled out some of Rodriguez’s old dolls and teddy bears and used them for a makeshift honor court – while friends and family sang “Las Mañanitas” from their cars and from the sidewalk.

She says she was completely thrilled to see all of the people she loved making an effort, despite difficulties, to make her feel special.

“I kind of lost hope of having anyone over or having a normal birthday where I can see my family,” she told NBC Latino. “I feel like my mom and my dad really made it special, trying to get the people that were closest to me.”

Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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Working From Home Can Impact Your Mental Health, Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy

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A recent survey shows that thirty-five percent of workers who telecommute said their mental health had deteriorated as a result of doing so amid the coronavirus lockdown. As someone who has gone from working in a social, fun-filled, compassionate office space, I can consider myself part of that 35%.

Although working from home (for those privileged enough to do so) is a necessity for our safety and that of the community – it definitely presents some unique challenges.

Yes, the benefits are many: avoiding transit problems and the stress of commuting; sidestepping office politics; adopting a flexible schedule that allows for chores and errands to be incorporated into the work day; more time with family and pets; and a break on keeping up a business wardrobe and other appearance-related expenses.

But there’s a dark side. It’s an arrangement that fosters isolation and disconnection, two conditions that feed the greedy depression monster.

Here are some excellent tips for taking care of your mental health during these unprecedented times.

Break up your workday

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Some common challenges when working from home during the pandemic is the lack of stimulation and connection to people you used to see regularly. This can become a bit confusing, so it’s great to try to break up the schedule.

One of the best tips for working from home that I’ve discovered is breaking up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk. I’m also a huge fan of taking a mid-afternoon break (longer than your typical 30-minute lunch break) to go on a long walk or run errands.

Get a routine and stick to it

Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing.

Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours, and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner. 

When you do this regularly enough, it will feel more natural over time, and you won’t have to think about it so much. For me, this has meant taking my dogs out on a walk to get a coffee in the morning and then coming home and getting to work – it’s like creating my own little commute.

Stay connected

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Remember to keep up with friends and family, even if that can only be done through a Zoom or FaceTime call. Text someone you care about, and when restrictions are lifted in your area, try to make plans as regularly as you feel comfortable.

Connection is key, and it can be challenging when you don’t leave your home for long stretches of time.

It’s also helpful to join platforms of people doing similar work as you and interacting with them throughout the day. Or you can join an online book club or participate in volunteer work – having this sort of obligation will go a long way in helping you show up when you don’t feel great.

Incorporate wellness activities into your day

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One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you get to do things you might not be able to if you’re in an office all day.

I’ve been doing 20 minute walks around my neighborhood while listening to music. This moves the energy in the body and allow us to to have a shift in consciousness, which is so important when you’ve been isolated in front of a computer screen.

Another way to experience new energy in the body is to pause from work, find a comfortable place to sit, and then do deep belly breaths. This involves taking one deep breath in, and then focus on the exhale. You’ll notice your shoulders will relax, and your body will feel lighter.

Learn how to detach

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It’s so important when working from home that you keep your work and personal lives and actual physical areas totally separate. For many, it may not be possible to create an actual separate office space but you can create workspaces outside of your most “lived in” spaces. That’s what matters most.

There is a risk that working hours will get longer if the boundaries between work and personal life become blurred. It is necessary to establish a rigid system in which work can be carried out in a planned manner, such as by setting working hours and the timing of contact with supervisors.

No matter what you do, remember that working from home is yet another “new normal” to get used to — and the sooner you adapt to what makes you most productive, healthy, and mentally well, the better.

Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

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Mexico Plans To Reopen Cancun To International Tourists But It’s Not At All Prepared For Visitors

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There are millions of people just itching for a vacation right now, and Cancun wants to welcome visitors with open arms. However, there’s a huge problem with their plan. Most of the country is still in a severe phase of the pandemic – with all 32 states reporting daily increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases.

In cities such as Guadalajara and Mexico City, even locals aren’t allowed to venture far from their homes and restrictions on shopping, dining, and exercising are still in full force.

However, the country’s president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), has resumed his cross-country travels and is trying to portray a ‘new normal’ – the problem is little has changed to prevent further outbreaks.

Cancun is aiming to open its doors to tourists from June 10 – but it makes zero sense given the actual situation on the ground.

Quintana Roo, home to the famed beaches of Cancun and Tulum, will resume activities next week – according to the governor, Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez. The state, which depends heavily on tourism, has lost over 83,000 jobs in the last few months due to the pandemic, and with reopening the state could see an economic rebound. However, that entirely depends on the success and implementation of safety measures.

In a press conference, the governor said that tourists could start arriving in the Caribbean destination as soon as June 8th. He added that tourism is an essential activity and that there is no other of greater importance in Quintana Roo “and we are going to fight for it to be considered that way.”

He stressed during the public address that for the opening to happen by June 10th, protocols and hygiene measures must be followed to protect workers and tourists from Covid-19.

And he has good reason to reopen. According to a new survey by Expedia, ‘Cancun flights’ is one of the top 5 searches on the platform. In the same survey, Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Isla Mujeres (all located in Quintana Roo) were announced as three of the most internationally sought after destinations.

Meanwhile, AMLO has launched a cross-country tour touting the lifting of Coronavirus restrictions.

Credit: Rebecca Blackwell / Getty

President AMLO also held his daily press conference from the state of Quintana Roo to mark the beginning of Mexico’s economic reopening and resume his tours across the country.

But this too makes zero sense. Yes, the government has mandated that states can begin lifting restrictions – if they’re no longer declared ‘red zones.’ However, every state in the country is still in the red, with many seeing peak infection numbers.

It’s just the most recent example of confusing messaging from the president.

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While AMLO is eager to get the country reopened and put Mexicans back to work, Coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country. Mexico has now recorded the seventh-highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, with nearly 10,000 virus-related fatalities and almost 100,000 confirmed cases. Testing in the country is low and health officials acknowledge that the numbers are likely much higher.

The federal government unveiled a red-light/green-light system to implement reopening procedures state by state. But currently every state is still in ‘red-light’ phase – meaning stay-at-home orders are still in full effect – making AMLO’s messaging extremely confusing.

Time and time again, the president has downplayed the virus outbreak and has criticized stay-at-home orders for harming the economy.

Keep in mind, however, that non-essential travel between the U.S. and Mexico is still largely banned.

Since March, all non-essential travel has been banned between the U.S. and Mexico. However, that ban is currently set to expire on June 22. It’s possible both sides could extend the travel ban, but given AMLO’s rhetoric it isn’t likely he’ll keep the country closed to tourists for much longer.

However, it’s important to point that out even if you technically can travel – right now you really shouldn’t. In much of Mexico, confirmed Covid-19 cases are on the rise with many cities across the country just now entering it’s worst phase.