My Favorite Healthy Snacks

COVID-19 lockdown was very impactful on my diet. First off, to be clear, when I talk about my diet, I mean it as a noun, not a verb. I think about my diet as simply the kinds of food that I habitually eat. While in the past, I ate Paleo, intermittently fast, ate low-carb, etc., dieting doesn’t work for my mental health. Instead, I constantly keep my favorite healthy snacks in my fridge & my pantry to ensure I always have healthy options on hand to snack on, instead of eating chips or candy.

Mixed Nuts & Dried Cranberries

The first time I had this snack was in the waiting room at a spa. It’s the perfect combo of salty & sweet in my opinion. I even make my own trail mix sometimes for long hikes by mixing Craisins with my two favorite nuts: Almonds & Cashews.

JIF Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter & Fuji Apples

Because of my mom, I’ve always loved Fuji apples. They are the only type of apple that my mom would buy growing up, & I still do not love any other type of apple just as much. When I still worked at IPSY, I LOVED that our office manager always kept single packs of JIF Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter & apple slices in stock. Nowadays, I put a huge scoop of peanut butter on a spoon & bite in a whole apple.

Baby Carrots & Hummus or Ranch

I owe this favorite snack to my sister. She buys two giant bags of baby carrots from the grocery store every week, & every week, we finish every last carrot. While I’m fine eating baby carrots on their own, I do love dips & sauces. Hummus & ranch are my favorites ones to pair with my baby carrots when I’m feeling saucy.


I love Japanese cuisine, & I love going to restaurants that offer edamame as an appetizer. Costco has huge packs of edamame that you can quickly heat up in the microwave. Edamame is high in protein, can help lower cholesterol, & reduce the risk of breast & prostate cancer.


I don’t recall when Cuties came onto the scene, but I’ve loved them since the first time I picked up a bag from the grocery store. I must eat at least two at a time, if not more. They are my favorite snack when I’m craving something juicy & sweet.


Whenever I need a piece of fruit that’s going to keep me full for a significant amount of time, I reach for a banana. Unlike cuties, bananas keep me feeling full if I have a long meeting before lunch, or I get hungry in the afternoon with several hours to go before dinner. Another plus to bananas is that if I ever forget about them, I have an excuse to bake my ultimate banana bread.

Do you share any of my favorite healthy snacks? Do you have anything that you always keep on hand in your fridge or pantry that you want to recommend? Let me know in a comment below!

XO Denise


starry sky over mountains

My Dark Night of the Soul

In mid-January, I woke up at 3:33 am to the thought “You will come into alignment after your Dark Night of the Soul.” I only knew the exact time because I immediately reached for my phone to write down that thought in a Note on my iPhone. That night, I had no idea what it meant. But contrary to what you may have heard, a Dark Night of the Soul does not actually occur in a single night. In January, I chose to lay to rest my former self, proactively strive to become the best version of myself, & continue to grow & learn as a person. I know now that I am coming closer to alignment & my soul’s life mission & purpose.


A Dark Night of the Soul can be defined as a spiritual crisis that leads toward union with God, Source, the Universe, or however you spiritually identify with a higher power. The entire month of January was my Dark Night of the Soul. Every night, I woke up in the middle of the night between the hours of 3:00 & 4:00 am with a specific message or a song in my head. My dreams were vivid, & I was constantly reflecting on my past. While undergoing transformation, I began to feel hopelessly lost. Every morning, I took note of the messages & songs in my head, which sparked creative inspiration that I used to transmute my despair & sadness into something positive.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, in early January, I wrote a new blog post every single day for eight days straight. I believe that it’s the momentum from January that allows me to keep my creative juices flowing six months later. It’s a true blessing to know that people all over the world read my blogs. With every like that I receive, I know that somewhere, somehow, I am positively impacting another human being.


As previously mentioned, I grew up Catholic. From birth through eighth grade, I regularly attended Sunday Catholic mass with my family. After getting Confirmed at 16 years old, despite still praying daily, I began to only attend church on the big Catholic holidays, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, & Easter.

After my Annual birthday bubble bath, I cried non-stop for 25 minutes straight on my birthday. I put on a brave face to show my friends & family that I was strong, but deep within my heart, I was still lost & heartbroken. When my sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told her that I want to be happy again. When blowing out my birthday candles, I wished my ex happiness & to be able to grow & learn from my mistakes.

Beginning Sunday, January 17th, I chose to virtually attend Sunday mass again. It felt so good, & I found so much comfort & guidance listening to the liturgy again. I haven’t attended mass in person again yet. But the Catholic church that I found is actually only a few blocks away from my current apartment. I hope to attend in person one day.


Through reconnecting with my Catholic upbringing, I remembered the ideals that I held close to my heart as a child. I was determined to always forgive, love without the need for personal gain, & treat others the way I wanted to be treated. Childhood was simple. When someone was mean to you, you communicated that they hurt your feelings. They said sorry, & you forgave them. Then, you moved on as if nothing had happened, because it truly was left in the past.

As a child, you loved your parents, because they were your parents. You loved your friends because they were your friends. Your love was boundless, & you loved without conditions. As we grow up, we forget how simple life used to be. Children are so much better at self-regulating their emotions & moving on without holding a grudge. During my Dark Night of the Soul, I reconnected with & nurtured my inner child.


A Dark Night of the Soul will differ from person to person. But the key thing to remember is that it’s your personal journey of dealing with a spiritual crisis & doing what you can to find your place in the world & the universe again. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you what your Dark Night of the Soul should be. Your spiritual awakening will be uniquely yours & yours alone.

XO Denise

star glitters with magic text

Do You Believe in Magic?

I spent the majority of my childhood wanting to have magical powers. Despite my ex-boyfriends who insist that magic & alternate universes only exist in movies, I do believe in magic. I dream often about being a witch, flying, & conjuring anything I want. For a long time, I would tell others that if magic does exist, & I never get a letter of acceptance into Hogwarts, I’m going to be pissed. Last year, I even wrote in my bullet journal: “Can I please have magic?”, under the heading Questions for the Universe. This past January, during the week of my birthday, my magic finally found me.

The Beginning of 2021

Every year, in December, I do a Life Audit. Last year, COVID-19 stay-at-home orders took a huge toll on my mental health. I set new goals for 2021 to positively transmute my emotions. I use my creativity to stay productive & work toward my longer-term life goals. After an angry couple of months, I had a lot of pent-up energy to transmute & write about. Beginning on my birthday, I woke up every day for eight days straight, ready to write a new blog post. Ironically, when I stop trying to be strong & let my guard down, the magic inside me emerges & shines.

During that week & in the weeks that followed, I thought I was going crazy. Every single day, I cried on & off. I had so many headaches & sporadic pains in my chest & stomach. The old me was officially dead because one of my spiritual gifts is being an empath. I spent the majority of my life blocking out my emotions. I believed that it made me “better” or “stronger” than others since my emotional state never affected me. But in reality, closing my energy & separating myself from my emotions made me weaker & prevented my gifts from blossoming.

Once I finally let myself feel my emotions, I knew that I could never go back. I also began to hear voices, telling me to clean to feel better. I grew up being messy, & I usually only straighten up my spaces when having guests over. But I suddenly found immense comfort in spiritual cleansing & cleaning my spaces regularly.

Psychic or Psychosis

It’s completely ok if you think I’m crazy or lying. All brilliant & creative people from history were a little crazy in my opinion, but I know my truth. My dark night of the soul in January completely shows my signs of psychosis. Luckily for me, I have a loving & supportive family. I chose to confide in my family members, & they understood that I was going through something. But instead of sending me to a mental hospital, judging me, or insisting that I “get help” so they didn’t have to deal with me, they let me work through my emotions. They supported me in my dark state & allowed me to self-heal at my own pace.

Almost everything after the week of my birthday began to trigger me. At times, I still can’t watch TV or listen to music with lyrics, so I find comfort in sitting at my windowsill with my AirPods, listening to Lofi music instead. Being bombarded by emotions that I know aren’t my own is heart-wrenching. Despite starting xodenisejoyce, I sometimes feel compelled to uninstall all of the social media apps from my iPhone.

For a while, I found peace by working out every day. But now, most days, at the gym, I immediately turn off the TV, because commercials, the news, & even screensavers feel triggering. I also mute the music & my spin instructor during Peloton rides. In January, I spent the majority of my booked gym time working out while crying & reflecting on past trauma. But with every tear shed & trauma from my past re-examined, I heal my heart, end toxic cycles, & become happier.

Sadness Leads to Joy

Like the Pixar movie, Inside Out, you need to be sad in order to be happy again. The old me that chooses to block out emotions & prevent myself from feeling any negative emotional baggage that still needs to be healed is finally dead & gone. My gift of magic found me because I was finally the best version of myself, & ready to take it on.

I began teaching myself how to read Tarot in November, but it wasn’t until January that reading energy became exponentially more clear. My heart was still closed in those early months. It also wasn’t until December that my Dad finally told me that my grandmother & he both also read cards. My magical gift is generational, & I know that it finally found me when the timing was right.

Do you believe in magic? Does magic run in your family? Let me know in a comment below.

XO Denise