COUPLED: Reality TV and My 10 MUST-HAVES in a Man

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Everyone should have a “list” for what they are looking for in a partner right?? So here’s mine.

What I’m looking for in a man:

  • Christian with a strong relationship with God because LOVE IS 1 Corinthians 13:4 & I desire a Christ-centered relationship. (Patient, KIND, keeps no record of wrong doing, etc)
  • Unique sense of humor – I NEED to laugh! I’m a big kid and love laughing at myself, at my man, and with my man. Laughter really is the best medicine!!
  • Athletic/tall build – I’m 5’8” and I love wearing heels and want to still feel small next to him.
  • Amazing family/family oriented – when you date me you date my family. And when I date, I get attached to family rather quickly since I myself am so family oriented. I love big families with kids everywhere! The bigger the better.
  • Foooooiiiine… but yet doesn’t know how attractive he is. AKA HUMBLE.
  • Intelligence is sexy. So is generosity.
  • Must love and want kids. I’m not opposed a man who already has kids BUT I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to give that gift to my husband one day – our first child, together… that whole experience is something I dream about. I want to be a mommy!
  • Speaking of kids… MUST. LOVE. DOGS too!!!!!!!! Especially my dog, Romeo. Or it’s BUH-BYE papi.
  • Affirms and encourages me in my field of work without being jealous. (The right amount of jealousy is cute though.) *Words of affirmation is key* as it’s one of my love languages.
  • P.D.A is a must –I want a man who cant help but to have his hands all over me and is super affectionate no matter who is looking!!! My other love language is physical touch.
  • Protective – will defend me to no end. I want that “ride or die, Bonnie & Clyde, it’s you and me against the world” type of love. I’m just looking for a best friend, at the end of the day – that’s the best kind of relationship to have.

So lets talk about this whole COUPLED thing. It’s a new dating show on FOX and I am honored to say I am part of season 1! Shooting started in February and ended in March. Its been a week since the premiere and tomorrow is episode two. This is so exciting!! It’s a Mark Burnett Production so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity because Mark Burnett is known for being Christian, and none of his shows are salacious, malicious or defaming in any way. (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor)

As for me, I’ve always been in serious relationships (pretty much back to back) and never really just plain dated. After over a year of being single I knew it was time for me to get out there again and start to date. So why not do it on national television? And why not in the Caribbean?

Obviously I can’t share details or give too much away, but be sure to tune in every Tuesday night @9pm on Fox to see if I checked off “my list” and found me a man or not 😉

Be sure to follow along on social media @aliciamblanco throughout the season for behind the scenes pics from the season.

Besitos!

Why Traveling Is Good For Your Mental Health

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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Recently I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel. It started back in September when I traveled to Israel.  Soon thereafter I was in Puerto Rico for a week. And, as I sit here finishing up all my packing for my second trip to Dubai this month, I can’t help but to recognize how much healthier I feel on the inside.

When you travel, you get away from the comfort of your routine. You disconnect. You un-plug. You checkout of everything; schedules, diets, drama, gossip, heartbreak, work, stress, work-related stress, and social media. You marvel in newness, freshness, different foods, cultures, people and beyond… it’s one of the greatest gifts you can ever give yourself in this life.

Several years ago, I was envisioning myself in this space. I very clearly saw myself disconnected from my comfort zones of Arizona and LA, and entirely consumed with the freedom and fullness that comes with traveling. I dreamt of collecting stamps on my then very empty passport and I even dreamt of singing around the world for beautiful and diverse audiences.  So, last year I put this vision into action when I created my vision board, complete with pictures and images of sandy beaches, tiki huts, and water so clear and blue that you felt like you were in a dream just looking at it. Besides all the pictures of traveling (as well as my dream home, husband, wedding and engagement ring), my vision board also includes images of music, singing, and even a Grammy. It’s the first thing I see in the morning everyday and at one point I didn’t even realize how much it consumed such a large portion of my life. I see these images constantly and frequently throughout the day, without even realizing it.

When I found myself at the airport recently looking down at my passport, I realized how many of those stamps I had actually acquired over the last six months alone. As I found myself on the Sea of Galilee back in September, I realized I had this very image on my vision board with water so blue and beautiful that I felt like I was dreaming. Of course, this was way better. When I walked the streets of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico just after sunset and listened to the live salsa music, I felt completely at home. (The monfongo and arroz con gandules was mouthwatering. If you’re a foodie like me, traveling is good for your taste buds too.)  And when I checked into my beautiful hotel room in Dubai, I felt like I had seen that very space before in my mind. It was overwhelming.

To make all of this even more beautiful, I get to sing on my latest traveling adventures! I can honestly say that the very first time that the curtains were drawn and I sang the first note of “The Voice Within”, it was a surreal experience- nearly out of body. I knew I had been there before in my mind. That moment affirmed what I already knew: what you think about, you bring about. If you see it in your head, you will hold it in your hand. It’s the law of attraction.

Life will present moments where it feels like the stars have aligned and you can’t wipe the smile and simultaneous tears from your face even if you tried. It’s in those moments, at least for me, that I feel totally and completely balanced and whole. I feel a sense of health (both physically and MENTALLY), and an inner peace that’s truly indescribable.

“Let yourself go.” – Eat, Pray, Love.

Traveling has given me so much more than I was expecting. When I made my vision board over a year ago I never knew that the real thing would feel quite like this. Complete and utter bliss is when you find the thrill of running to your gate at an international airport. It’s looking out the window as your plane is about to land and seeing buildings you’ve only ever dreamt about. Its forcing yourself to learn different languages in order to communicate and expand your mind. Its making connections with people who may not speak the same language as you, but you feel as though you share so much in common because of the matching tags on your suitcases at baggage claim. It’s in the quiet moments in the morning inside your hotel room when you realize you’re waking up in an entirely different time zone – and world for that matter. Its in the space where you feel like the world is so much bigger, yet smaller than you thought it was. It’s in the discomfort and the unknown. It’s even in the jet lag. To travel is to live and grow into a better human being.

If you’ve been waiting for a sign to finally travel, consider this blog post your sign. There will always be a reason why you shouldn’t do it now. Money, timing, your job, your family… what’s your reason? No matter what it is, I hope you realize two things from my blog. 1) there is no perfect timing to do anything. Now is the time. And 2) your world and your life will be so much more fascinating when you get home from your travels. You’ll be more well-rounded, have more life experience, and you’ll see things differently than you ever did before. People included. Lastly, 3) you need to start envisioning what you want in life and believe with all your heart that it can indeed manifest when it’s time. God, the universe, your thoughts, all of these will serve you when you live your life with a plan and with wholehearted intention, day in and day out.

So please, pack your suitcase and just let go. Everything will still be here when you get back – only better.

P.S. Here’s an article I came across a few days ago that I feel says it perfectly and inspired me to write this post. It’s 6 Reasons Why Not Quitting Your Job to Travel is a Waste of Your Life

Eat, Pray, Love // Part 2

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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Now that I’m back in LA and able to really reflect on my “Eat Pray Love” adventure (and can FINALLY talk about the details) I feel really overwhelmed. It seems like it may be nearly impossible to express how emotional I’ve been.  So enjoy the pictures! Hopefully they will better describe what my writing simply can’t.

EAT.

The food in Israel was nothing short of amazing. On the first day that we went out for lunch, I think I ate enough for the rest of the week, for a family of four. I had four pita breads all to myself and an endless supply of hummus, chicken, falafel, vegetables, French fries… you name it. But it was the way in which all of our meals were presented to us that was especially magnificent. We were made to feel like royalty! They took such great care of us and presented each meal in such a detailed, ornate, elaborate and artistic way.  These pictures truly don’t do it justice.

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What an indescribable feeling it was to eat to our hearts content and in such a lavish setting. Thank you to Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003 for capturing most of those AMAZING pictures of our meals!

Literally, every single meal was fit for a royal court and dignitaries, ambassadors, VIPs… so of course we felt overwhelmingly appreciative, gracious and ate like Queens. On this particular night we were joined by former Israeli Ambassador of the UN, Gabriella Shalev.


PRAY.

I felt closer to God than ever before in the week I spent in Israel. For me, being in the holy land was cleansing, healing and the biggest learning experience of my entire life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me everywhere I went.

I felt closer to God than ever before in the week I spent in Israel. For me, being in the holy land was cleansing, healing and the biggest learning experience of my entire life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit with me everywhere I went.

From the Western Wall (also known as the wailing wall in the Old City of Jerusalem where I was honored with the task of praying for several of you - THANK YOU to my bestie Kristen for capturing this picture of me leaning against the wall and praying!!!) to the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee...it was all just so magical and stunning to pray on an entirely different level. It truly left me so speechless and I felt like I was emotionally melting away any grief, pain, confusion, hurt or any other ailment holding me back in my life.  Such an intense wave of emotions.

Praying along the Western Wall (also known as the wailing wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.)

I was honored with the task of praying for several of you – THANK YOU to my bestie Kristen for capturing this picture of me leaning against the wall and praying!!!) to the boat ride on the Sea of Galilee…it was all just so magical and stunning to pray on an entirely different level. It truly left me so speechless and I felt like I was emotionally melting away any grief, pain, confusion, hurt or any other ailment holding me back in my life. Such an intense wave of emotions.

Lighting candles in prayer at The Church of the Holy Sepulchrer.

Lighting candles in prayer at The Church of the Holy Sepulchrer.

This is the exact spot where Jesus Christ was crucified. I was able to kneel down and pray over the shrine. It was incredible!

This is the exact spot where Jesus Christ was crucified. I was able to kneel down and pray over the shrine. It was incredible!

I bought some rosaries and other gifts in the Old City of Jerusalem and prayed over them at The Church of the Holy Sepulchrer. This is the actual stone slab where the body of Jesus Christ was cleaned off after he died.

I bought some rosaries and other gifts in the Old City of Jerusalem and prayed over them at The Church of the Holy Sepulchrer. This is the actual stone slab where the body of Jesus Christ was cleaned off after he died.

Praying with Susie.

Praying with Susie.

This was a level of prayer i will never forget. I will be thankful for the rest of my life for this experience.  And I pray you feel something stirring up inside of you simply by reading about my experience and seeing these pictures.

This was a level of prayer I will never forget. I will be thankful for the rest of my life for this experience. And I pray you feel something stirring up inside of you simply by reading about my experience and seeing these pictures.

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It was such an honor to be interviewed by the Christian Broadcasting Network about my blog! Speechless! I was able to talk about the Inner Beauty of Israel. Too cool!

It was such an honor to be interviewed by the Christian Broadcasting Network about my blog! Speechless! I was able to talk about the Inner Beauty of Israel. Too cool!

Swimming in the Dead Sea

Swimming in the Dead Sea

Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee

I remember one moment in particular when we were on our boat ride in the Sea of Galilee listening to some praise and worship music- I felt like I was literally floating in the clouds. The power of prayer is simply priceless and to be able to say that I prayed in Israel is truly a dream come true for me. I pray to go back to Israel again very soon.


LOVE.

SHE SAID YES! After a whirlwind trip of eating and praying in Israel, I got to spend the weekend in New York City with some of my very best girlfriends for a “girls trip” – yet little did our girl Nia Sanchez know that we were REALLY there for her surprise engagement!!! Extra exclamation marks for that!!!!

SHE SAID YES!

After a whirlwind trip of eating and praying in Israel, I got to spend the weekend in New York City with some of my very best girlfriends for a “girls trip” – yet little did our girl Nia Sanchez know that we were REALLY there for her surprise engagement!!! Extra exclamation marks for that!!!!

Nia is the reigning Miss USA and she’s been dating her man, Daniel Booko, for about a year and a half. It has been so much fun watching their love story unfold. So when Daniel called all of us ladies going to NYC for the weekend to inform us that he would be proposing while we were there, we got so much more excited about our trip.   We were so honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of tricking Nia into joining us for a “rooftop dinner and some drinks” that night (as well as making sure she got all dressed up and got her nails done that day too, etc.)

Nia is the reigning Miss USA and she’s been dating her man, Daniel Booko, for about a year and a half. It has been so much fun watching their love story unfold. So when Daniel called all of us ladies going to NYC for the weekend to inform us that he would be proposing while we were there, we got so much more excited about our trip. We were so honored to be entrusted with the responsibility of tricking Nia into joining us for a “rooftop dinner and some drinks” that night (as well as making sure she got all dressed up and got her nails done that day too, etc.)

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I am so blessed to have such a loving group of girlfriends. My time in NYC was all about LOVE!

I am so blessed to have such a loving group of girlfriends. My time in NYC was all about LOVE!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

This was just minutes after it happened. We were so happy and overflowing with LOVE!

This was just minutes after it happened. We were so happy and overflowing with LOVE!

If you know me well, you know I’m a huge fan of fairytale love stories, romance, relationships, being swept off your feet, the whole nine. I just love Love so much. I’m totally and completely a relationship type person. And just as much, I’m also totally and completely a family oriented person. I am really attracted to men with strong relationships with his family. I’ve even been known to encourage boyfriends in my past to send flowers and/or a random call or text to his mom and sisters, if applicable.  I love that stuff.

I also dream of my future husbands’ family being so in love with me and being excited to welcome me into their family.  This is why being part of Nia’s engagement completely solidified the importance of being embraced and accepted by your partners’ family.

This is Daniels sister. She is the cutest!! I think this picture really captures the love the Booko family has for Nia. She was tremendous help to Daniel on this unforgettable day. She drove out from Boston to NYC the day before to help set up the rooftop with candles, flowers, pictures, balloons, champagne, and a candy bar. Too sweet. She also made sure the happy couple called up the rest of the family to share the exciting news right away. Hearing how happy his family sounded with each phone call was so beautifully overwhelming. They love Nia so much. I was bawling.  It’s so important. Love and support from family is priceless.

Nia hugging her soon to be sister-in-law, right after the proposal.

This is Daniels sister. She is the cutest!! I think this picture really captures the love the Booko family has for Nia. She was tremendous help to Daniel on this unforgettable day. She drove out from Boston to NYC the day before to help set up the rooftop with candles, flowers, pictures, balloons, champagne, and a candy bar. Too sweet. She also made sure the happy couple called up the rest of the family to share the exciting news right away. Hearing how happy his family sounded with each phone call was so beautifully overwhelming. They love Nia so much. I was bawling. It’s so important. Love and support from family is priceless. Ironically, just hours before the engagement, Nia shared with us how much she wanted to be part of Daniel’s amazing family one day. I took all of this as just validation and confirmation for my heart. Family is everything.

Ironically, just hours before the engagement, Nia shared with us how much she wanted to be part of Daniel’s amazing family one day. I took all of this as just validation and confirmation for my heart. Family is everything.   I can think of no greater way to wrap up my Eat Pray Love journey than to witness my friends dream love story become a reality so whimsically. Nia has such a GLOW to her now that she is so madly in love. I think most women would agree that when we are loved like never before, then we are unstoppable and can't help but to reciprocate that love right back to our man. And that’s the way love should be…

I can think of no greater way to wrap up my Eat Pray Love journey than to witness my friends dream love story become a reality so whimsically. Nia has such a GLOW to her now that she is so madly in love. I think most women would agree that when we are loved like never before, then we are unstoppable and can’t help but to reciprocate that love right back to our man. And that’s the way love should be…

A little sidenote about this picture of me in front of the L O V E statue... I honestly didn't even go looking for it! We just so happened to stumble across it on our way to dinner. I saw it and immediately started to cry. I felt like it was God concluding my Eat Pray Love journey so poetically. I repeat, I wasn't even looking for it! And yet BAM, there it was...and it found me.

LOVE.

A little sidenote about this picture of me in front of the L O V E statue… I honestly didn’t even go looking for it! We just so happened to stumble across it on our way to dinner. I saw it and immediately started to cry. I felt like it was God concluding my Eat Pray Love journey so poetically. I repeat, I wasn’t even looking for it! And yet BAM, there it was…and it found me.

And that’s exactly how I promise to live the rest of my dating life.  I won’t go looking for it or try so long and so hard to make something work. I know in my heart that when I’m least expecting it, it will find ME. He will pursue me, court me, protect me, and never give up on me.  I know it won’t be easy, love never is, but I also know it shouldn’t be so hard either.  #love

That’s another thing I learned while in Israel – life is so precious and tomorrow has no guarantees. In the event of a bomb threat, everyone has fifteen seconds to get to a bomb shelter. Fifteen seconds. When I heard that, I promised myself to enjoy every second of my life.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

I love you all for reading this!!

3 Things Israel Confirmed For Me In Just One Day

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After my first 24 hours in Israel I can honestly say my life will never be the same. Imagine where my mind will be after my full week here!? It’s hard to put into words just how amazing this experience has been so far, but I will try. (Please excuse the typos – We are about to run out for the day but I wanted to get this posted before I left!)

Day One was spent on a tour of the Barzilai Medical Center which treats many of the injured from Gaza and Israel. We were privileged to visit and hand out toys in the children’s ward. Afterwards we were off to a high school in Sderot which is right on the frontline of Gaza. Yeah, I was scared. But when I realized that these kids live in this fear every single day, I recognized how truly privileged I am and suddenly felt fearless, and really damn thankful too. Saw my first bomb shelter ever on campus…

We also visited a Police Station in Sderot where we saw firsthand just a few of the remains of rockets fired at Israel.

Lunch was amazing… (so that’s what hummus is supposed to taste like…) Hey #Merica, just so you know, our hummus is no Bueno compared to the real thing!

We ended day one on a tour of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Base where I met the most extraordinary people in my life. In particular, my conversations with the women on the frontline were the most compelling.

Here are the 3 Things Israel Confirmed for me in just One Day

1)     Being educated is so sexy – As we sat in a conference room at the IDF and listened to the personal stories of these young men and women in the military, it became clear that even through a thin language barrier, these were extremely educated people… I mean, kids. They knew e v e r y t h i n g in great detail about their country, its history, statistics, facts and everything else in between. It was really powerful to be amongst such intelligent individuals who were as passionate about defending their country as they were about knowing every single thing about it. Also notably impressive was that there was no sense of “man vs woman” or women being treated differently just because they were women. Nope. All equal here.

Dinner later that day with former Israeli Ambassador of the UN Gabriella Shalev was equally significant of the importance of obtaining a higher education. Her resume was miles long and I just felt so honored to be in her presence. There is something soooo attractive and alluring about a beautiful and educated mind. She didn’t have to say much for all of us to feel how powerful she was.

2)     Loving your job is as important as drinking water every day. – On the bus leaving the base, a few of the female soldiers got to ride back with us. My friend Kristen who is also on this amazing adventure with me asked one of the women, “how do you stay so happy?” – Her response was that she wakes up every single day “so excited” about what she does. HELLO BRAVE AND SELFLESS WARRIOR… I found that to be absolutely incredible. This woman in particular is 24 years old and has been serving for five years. She said, “I promised myself that every day I would be excited and to never let go of that promise.” Five years later, and I can honestly say its been a while since I’ve seen someone light up so when talking about what they do. This is a woman who risks her life that I’m talking about!!! So the next time I want to complain about work in America, I’m just gunna shut the heck up… wow.

3)     Never judge a book by its cover. – If Israel had a “cover” title based on what the media portrays, it would be “danger” “warfare” “disagreement” “pain” “death” “conflict”… and yet after just one day I’ve come to realize that this couldn’t be any further from the truth. When I told a few people where I would be going for a week, I got a lot of responses like “but why?” “have you been watching the news?” “don’t you know what’s going on over there?” “why Israel? Now? Really? Are you crazy?”

And I would lying to you if I said that these same thoughts didn’t cross my mind too. They certainly did. However, I think this is what life is all about – getting out there and seeing the world firsthand, not just the exotic and “safe” places, but also the places that are seemingly in trouble. If God presented this amazing opportunity to me, I know it’s with great purpose and I trust He will protect all of us throughout the journey. There is a reason I am here. Reasons I haven’t even been able to fully process quite yet. (I’m honestly still a bit in shock that I’m here. Thankful is an understatement though.)

At the welcome dinner receptions, all of us were presented with necklaces that read, “One nation” on them. The presenter explained how significant it was that we always remember that despite all the things we “see” and “hear” about Israel, that there is still an immense sense of inner beauty all around this place. It’s within the hearts of the innocent children and families who really just want a quiet and peaceful lifestyle. It’s in the hospitals which despite ample difficulties, still manage to perform lifesaving operations and provide treatments. It’s in the selflessness of the military and their passion to serve their country. It’s everywhere and it’s so clear you can almost touch it with your bare hands. Never judge a book by its cover. As a former reporter I cant tell you how much the news annoys the crap out of me…

It’s important to stay informed but don’t get sucked into believing every little last “detail” that gets dragged on and fabricated in the media. That’s annoying and stupid.

Time to head out for Day Two! We are going to The Old City of Jerusalem and visiting the prayer walls! I am in shock that I get to experience something so amazing as this. Thanks to everyone who sent prayer requests to me on social media. I read each and every single one of your messages and will take them with me today. STAY TUNED FOR MORE POSTS LIKE THIS! 🙂