A brighter future for immigrants

People come to the U.S. in search of a better life, bringing their children with them in hopes that they may enjoy the same level of opportunity and freedom as do all Americans. We truly need a system that allows children who were raised in the U.S., in spite of their undocumented status to easily transition into the system without fear of deportation.  The United States should be a country that can be viewed as a sanctuary, not one that requires people to jump through arbitrary hoops in search of a better life.

“I was released today because I am a low priority and not considered a threat,” Mr. Vargas said by telephone shortly after his release. “I would argue that the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are not a threat either.”

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Love Defined.

Until today, I have never before heard such a beautiful definition of love. I cried.

“You said that the wonderful thing about falling in love is that you learn everything about that person, and so quickly. And if it’s true love then you start to see yourself through their eyes and it brings out the best in you. And it’s almost as if you’re falling in love with yourself.”

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A Conservative Says…

A couple of days ago, I read an article where a man who calls himself, “Joe the Plumber”, claimed that the recent deaths of victims in the UC Santa Barbara shooting “don’t trump” his right to own a firearm.

In a letter to the parents of the 7 victims, he wrote:

“I am sorry you lost your child.  I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through right now.  But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my constitutional rights.”

This just blows my mind.  How anyone can say such a thing, and believe so strongly in it, is beyond me.

There’s a saying that goes, “A conservative says, ‘If it hasn’t happened to me, I don’t care.’  A liberal says, ‘This should never happen to anyone, and that’s why I care.’”  And at the Davis County Convention, I recall Utah Representative Brian King saying something along the lines of, “There are a lot of things that Republicans and Democrats have in common.  There are also a lot of things that set them apart.  But I think the one thing that makes Democrats stand out the most is genuine concern for their neighbor.”  Joe the Plumber is a perfect example of what the quote and Rep. Brian King meant.

It is absolutely important to look out for yourself, and for your family.  That’s natural.  Everyone is looking out for their best interest, and it makes rational sense to do so.  But imagine how different the world would be if people were less selfish, and actually made a conscious effort to ease the lives of others, both friends and complete strangers – not necessarily to the extent that they do for their own family, but just a bit more than they do now.  I feel that the world would be a much better place.

We all have things we value, and to many, freedoms and rights are among those highly prized possessions.  But to be so insensitive to say that the death of a family member – an invaluable and irreplaceable part of any person’s life – comes before your rights?  To be clear, your right to own a gun is not being taken away at all.  New laws are being considered that are designed to make our communities safer and to protect others as well as allow those [responsible enough and] who want to own a gun to do so.  In this way, we cover all our bases, and everyone is happy.  I don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t want that – everybody wins.  Joe the Plumber may place the same or even more value on his ‘constitutional rights’ as the UC Santa Barbara shooting victims’ families place on the lives on their loved ones, but neither should be devalued just the same.

We live in a world where compromises are necessary to move forward.  One person’s disagreement with another person’s is not the be-all and end-all – instead, we all need to be tolerant of each others’ opinions.  In order to live in harmony, we need to accept each others’ differences, even though we may not approve of them ourselves.  We need to see things from our opponents’ points of view and be understanding of where our enemies are coming from.  Understanding will make all the difference: The world does not revolve around you; others have wants and needs, experience the same joy and pain, and are doing what they can to make the most out of their existence just as you are.  Be respectful, be kind, and make the world a better place by thinking about ways in which you can improve the lives of others.

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Convention Weekend

Kathleen Villanueva - Utah Democratic Convention Credential

 

This weekend was a busy one for me.  Friday evening, I attended the Taylor & Mayne awards dinner to see Weston Clark deservedly receive the award, and I also went to the United Way Young Leaders annual party.  I was also invited to a SL Chamber event at the new aquarium and a friend’s launch party for his new product that I wasn’t able to make it to.  Yesterday, I attended my second convention ever as a delegate for House District 14.  Even though there aren’t as many big elections (no senate or presidential elections this year), it was still just as exciting as the last.

Two years ago, I went to my first convention ever – all alone.  While I had a lot of family and friends supporting my decision to run for delegate, I attended the convention alone, not knowing anyone really. But putting myself in the spotlight was one of the best decisions I ever made.  This year, I still arrived alone since I don’t really have any political frinds, but there were familiar faces everywhere.  It was so much easier to network and get introduced to such inspirational and well-meaning people.

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Kathleen Villanueva and Luz Robles (UT-SD1 and Candidate for Utah House CD2)

I expressed my aspiration to work in politics someday, despite my wonderful situation at Cicero.  I am very grateful to have such an interesting and rewarding job, but ultimately I’d still like to pursue my dream of crafting policy that will better the lives of millions of people.  It’s incredible how I’ve always had a plan to work in politics, and after so many years, I’m still working so hard to execute it – while there are other people who never even gave two cents about politics, and ended up landing one of the neatest opportunities in it and falling completely in love with it.  I truly envy the people I just described, but either way, I’m moving forward, and I’ll get there someday. 🙂

I love meeting candidates and talking about the issues that are important to me.  I stressed issues including funding for education, long-term investments in infrastructure, technology and alternative energy, and an economic environment that both enables hard-working students out of undergrad to easily find jobs, as well as for business owners to innovate and grow.

In an effort to get more involved, I am now secretary of the Davis county chapter of the Utah Young Democratic Caucus.  I am looking forward to get more engaged and to make more of a difference in my community.  I really need to do more beyond my role in the Rules Committee.  I feel bad that I get jazzed up about politics during election years, but once the election is over, I kind of fall out of politics and just start concentrating solely in working and making money again.  I need to stay engaged throughout the whole year if I ever want to get there someday.

I don’t know if we’ll win any federal elections, or be able to replace all the retiring Democrats in our state legislature with more of our own… But I feel confident that we’re making progress.  Someday this state is going to turn purple. 🙂 I really want to help drive that change, and I can’t wait to experience what it will feel like to have helped contribute to such a huge victory.

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Sewol

My heart is broken upon reading about the capsized ferry boat in South Korea.  The chances of something of this nature happening are so small, but the fact that things like this happen at all should be reason enough for us to appreciate everything we have.

I feel that over the last year I’ve developed a greater appreciation for things I often didn’t attach as much value as I should.  Every morning I thank God that I have all five senses, that I woke up in a comfortable bed next to my fluffy little dog, that I have something to eat for breakfast, that my life is filled with so many people who care about me…  I realize how lucky I am to be alive, and how incredibly fortunate I am to have healthy relationships with my loved ones.  But it’s events like this that further remind me of how much I have to be thankful for.

This story got me thinking: if I were in a life-threatening situation, what are the things I would wish I had with me?  What would be the things I would be deeply saddened about never seeing again?  It wouldn’t be any type of material things… it wouldn’t even be the successes and accomplishments I’ve made academically or career-wise – it would be my family.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected in this tragedy.  I feel that the reason God lets things like this happen is so that we will take a step back to appreciate how much we have and how incredibly blessed we truly are.

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Today

I am feeling so many different emotions.  I feel blessed that I was able to land a 5th round of interviews with Goldman Sachs.  I am grateful for the endless support I’ve had from the people who believe in me more than I do myself.  Because I’ve never worked so hard to prepare for something like an interview, I feel accomplished.  I skimmed the 160+ pages of the Goldman Sachs 10-k Report, wrote up answers to questions I’m not even sure I’ll be asked, and reached out to current employees I barely know for advice on the interview process.  I even mailed thank-you letters to each person I interviewed with, and each letter was uniquely tailored to the conversation I had with each individual.  And I’m thinking this might be the last round that determines whether or not I got the job because the number of people with whom I meet each round is dwindling.

I know I’ve said this before, but I mean it even more now when I say I’ve never wanted something so badly in my life.  I feel like this career would just open up a whole new world of opportunity for me.  Everyone talks about how hard it is to work at Goldman Sachs, but I already work hard, and always have.  I feel like such a good fit for this company’s culture, and the fulfillment of their goals are ones that would be a dream come true to be a part of.  In this role, I’d be able to harness my unused potential – I’d be challenged, I’d learn new things everyday, I’d continue to grow.  And if I work hard enough, maybe I’ll even be able to transfer to an office on the East Coast, or anywhere in the whole world.

I’m also feeling very scared and nervous.  In the past, I’ve broken down into a million pieces whenever I’ve come up short of meeting a goal.  Failure is something I’ve never been very good at dealing with.  While I’m still very worried about being rejected, this time is a little different.  If anything, I just received 5 weeks of the most intense interview experience anyone could ever have with one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.  That’s definitely something I’ll always be proud of.  And they can bet their bottom dollar that I will try applying again.  They must like me after all – they’ve called me back five times! 😛

I just wanted to remind myself of the hard work I’ve done to get to this point.  All of the failures, hard times, and mistakes I’ve made brought me here to this very moment.  I wouldn’t take any of them back for the world.  If things work out for me and this role, I will know what it feels like to have everything I could ever want.  Each stepping stone towards my future career goals and happiness means the world to me.  On the other hand, if things don’t work out, I just want to have these feelings recorded so that I’ll remember not to lose hope, and not to give up.  I’m making progress.  Two years ago, I couldn’t even get an interview.  This year, I’ve already had seven with Goldman Sachs.

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Typical New Years Reflection Post

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This post I made in July, 4 days before my birthday (the most painful day of the year for me), sums up my 2013.  Everyone knows I’m such a worrywart, and I always freak out like the sky is falling, but I truly went through more stress, personal drama, and difficult changes this year than I’ve ever had to deal with before; I felt like my world fell apart multiple times last year.  But in the end, I ended up gaining so much more.  With every loss I suffered, I gained an even more valuable blessing in its place, bringing me another step closer to where I want to be.  I have so many reasons to be happy, and I’m truly so grateful for everything I have.

I went into 2013 just hoping that I would continue to grow.  While I definitely learned so many things about life, love, and the art of happiness, the moments that were most impactful include both the times I felt I hit rock bottom and the best of times.  I will probably never be 100% satisfied with my job, and there will always be times when I feel frustrated, overworked and undervalued… But I am always grateful for every raise and every email from a client praising me for my work with my boss CC’d.  I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at Cicero that have enabled me to build such a marketable skill set that will allow me to be a strong and valuable asset for my next company.  And though my DWI is a huge, expensive pain in the ass and waste of time, I’m lucky to have such amazing people in my life who didn’t judge me because of it, and helped me understand that it may have actually saved my life.  Also, on a less significant level, I felt so grown up when I finally replaced my 240 with a beautiful Lexus, haha :).

And while I went through the biggest heartbreak I’ve ever suffered this year, I ended up capturing the interest of someone I have always been attracted to, but never even thought was attainable.  When we started dating, I had to make a conscious effort to stop myself from falling because it was just too good to be true.  But it’s been so easy to trust him over time, and for me to see more ways in which we match.  Conversation just flows naturally between us, not only because we share similar interests, but also because we both love having engaging discussions and keeping our minds stimulated.  I admire his passion for the things he loves and the people he looks up to.  He works hard in everything he does, and is enthusiastic about succeeding and continuously improving himself.  There hasn’t been a single day that’s gone by since we’ve been dating that he hasn’t told me that I’m beautiful…  Not to mention that he has Brad Pitt’s face and Jesus’s abs.  He’s perfect.  This kind of amazing shit only happens in movies, I swear… Brian is my greatest gift of 2013.

There is one thing that stayed constant, though – in spite of all the mistakes I made this year, I never lost the support and love of my family. I could never feel lost knowing they’ll always be there for me no matter what.  I am so lucky to have been blessed with such a wonderful family.

In a nutshell, I wouldn’t have had 2013 go any other way.  I suffered losses, and made costly mistakes, but in the end, I would re-live it all over again just to be in this very moment, writing this post while taking a break from my segmentation report, with the sound of my family doing fireworks in the background and my puppy sitting in my lap.  I truly have so much to be grateful for, and I have been armed with so much potential to achieve anything I set my mind to.  These challenges I faced this year have only given me perspective that has strengthened my ability to love and show compassion to others.  2014 is MY year – the year of the horse.  I can’t wait to see what the future brings, because it just keeps getting better and better.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Letter to the Utah DABC

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing as a concerned citizen to shed light on the unreasonably strict alcohol regulations here in the State of Utah, particularly with regard to Title 32B of the Utah Code (AKA “The Beverage Control Act”) relating to the “prohibition of discounting practices.”  While I understand that the intent behind said law is to “discourage the over-consumption of alcohol,” I worry that there may in fact be serious, unintended consequences associated with it.  Utah is compromising many opportunities and potential benefits by reinforcing a policy that provides little returns.  I’m afraid that the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control may not be doing the job we, as taxpayers, expect it to do, as there is little rhyme and reason attached to its policies.

Following are 16 reasons why I believe “Happy Hour” should be legalized in the State of Utah:

1.     Because drinking is a central activity of business culture that is great for socializing, networking, or even selling.  Inviting others out to HH sounds classier and more professional than hitting up any old bar at any old time for any old reason with any old people.

2.     Because happy hour specials would keep working people and young professionals downtown where they can spend their money and grow the economy.

3.     Many argue that lifting the ban on happy hour would threaten restaurants and bars as people would likely look to casinos for free drinks.  We have no gambling establishments in Utah, so that issue does not apply here.  In fact, restaurant and bar owners have been fighting the Utah DABC for years for the ability to advertise discounted drinks, as well as the number of available licenses in the state… But we won’t get into that.

4.     Because discounted drinks from 5-7 would give people enough time to sober up before getting home safely at a decent time.

5.     I thought Utah Republicans are all about “hands-off” and “laissez-faire” policy?  Who the hell are you to regulate how much I spend on what I eat or drink?  I know 60% of the state’s population and 80% of the State Legislature belong to the Mormon Church, but if the other 40% of the population and 20% of elected officials want to party, just let us party!  Opponents to drinking don’t have to come –  In fact, they’re not even invited.

6.     Because the Red Door gets expensive.

7.     Because it’s embarrassing when visitors from out-of-state ask where they can grab the best Happy Hour, and we respond with, “Wherever you’re from.”

8.     Because the cash I have left until my next pay period will only buy me one more tank of gas + a $5 drink.  45-minute commute FTL.

9.     15-hour workday.  That’s why.

10.  Because I want to forget about how unproductive I was during my 15-hour workday because I was writing this letter.

11.  Because I need to dilute the overabundance of Red Bull currently in my system with vodka.

12.  Because the additional disposable income I have in my pocket that is saved from buying discounted rather than full-priced drinks could be donated to charity.

13.  Because hipsters want to drink too, but they can’t afford full-priced drinks.  So they end up screwing over their one employed friend to pay for all their drinks.  It’s just not fair.

14.  Because I want to look cool by ordering a drink with my dinner but I don’t want to spend more than $3 on a stupid cosmo my boyfriend can make himself.

15.  Because it’s snowing.

16.  Because it’s Tuesday.

I am speaking on behalf of the portion of the citizens of this state who rock when I say something needs to be done.  As you can see, Utah is missing many opportunities by continuing its ban on discounted drinks, and there are many in support of lifting the ban, including restaurant/bar owners and everyday citizens alike.  We hope you will carefully reevaluate and reconsider this piece of Title 32B, if not the whole damn thing, before we move to another state where we will bring our talent and our money and consume all the $2 cucumber martinis we want.

Sincerely,
Kathleen Villanueva, et al.

P.S.  I promise I’m not an alcoholic – I quit drinking three months ago.  😉

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The Art of Happiness

This year has been so impactful on my overall outlook on life, understanding of love, & definition of success.

One of the things I wish I could change about myself is how I’m constantly over analyzing and trying to make sense of things. I wish I could just roll with the punches, take things one step at a time, and be happy with what I have. Instead, I’m always trying to think in the long-term, yet a lot of the choices I end up making yield short-term returns.

I’m good at a lot of things, but one of the things I’m really bad at is taking charge of my own happiness. I think it’s because finding happiness isn’t a skill – it’s an art. It takes real creativity to see the beauty in everything and to realize the positive side to any situation. If everyone thought logically, no one would be completely content. We are all going to have goals – even once you reach a certain point, you’ll still want more. There will always be something missing. The important part is that you realize where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. Being happy is a choice, not something that comes naturally.

The other day, a friend of mine told me something really sweet.  She said:

“Gosh Kat, you’ve worked hard as long as I’ve known you, and now you have the perfect life.  I’m so glad to see that you have a sexy, well-paying job, good relationships with your friends, and now you have the perfect boyfriend – you have everything you’ve always wanted.  You inspire me to get my act together and work toward my dreams.”

This felt really good to hear.

But while I know I am in a great place, and I have a lot to be thankful for, my life is not a fairy tale.  I may project it to be perfect, but it isn’t, because I’m not perfect either.  I’ve made plenty of selfish mistakes, hurt dozens of people, and spend a good two minutes every single day regretting some things I can no longer change – and it’s probably safe to say that I’m still paying the price for those decisions.  I just don’t share how broken I truly am because I think it’s important to always stay as positive as you can be.

Behind everyone’s success story is an equally unglamorous one.  Nothing in this world is free – the most rewarding aspects of life require lots of hard work, discipline and commitment.  The two people in a happy couple went through a lot of struggle, past failed relationships, and heartbreak to get to the point of stability and understanding where they are.  An athlete may have been born with natural talent, but also needed to make a lot of sacrifices in order to train to the level of skill they are now.  The CEO of a prosperous company could have possibly led multiple failed start-ups before finally creating something that could compete in the market.

My point is, life is life.  Realize that some people get dealt better cards than others in this game of life, but ultimately it still takes a lot of strategy, skill, and commitment to facilitate the best outcome for yourself.  You’ll have to make trade-offs and give up a lot of things you love, but just keep telling yourself that in the end it’ll be worth it.  You’ll make decisions that you’ll regret, but it’s important to accept that what’s done is done, and move on.  You’ll have times when you feel like a complete failure, but you also have to realize your self-worth and look at how much you have accomplished.

I think the people who are successful and happy are the ones who are just as proud of their accomplishments as they are of surviving hell and back to get there.  It’s important to stay humble, and remember where you came from – everyone is working as hard as you are to create their happy ending, and the degree to which you are able to accomplish your goals depends on your personal drive combined with your family and friends who make up your support system, and sometimes just pure luck.  Opportunities don’t always just fall into your lap, but when they do, don’t take them for granted.

Consistent with all my other posts, my thoughts are all over the place…  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thankful for every aspect of my life.  I wouldn’t undo any of the mistakes I’ve made over the last couple of years, and I wouldn’t take back any of the challenging times when I felt defeated, because if none of it happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today.  But I also wouldn’t wish the pain I felt on anyone else… Some people, like myself, just need to learn everything the hard way.

And at this point, I think I’m the best person I ever was because of it all.  I’m still working toward building my own happily ever after – I may not deserve it yet, and it’ll take me a lot more work to achieve than all the other good people out there.  But I’ll get there, because I know I’m capable of getting anything I want.  I think that’s something to be proud of. 🙂

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