Curl Café Buena Gente: Community work

I love coffee, I love hair & I love community work. 

Last summer I tried a little social media experiment: Bring people together with similar interests that also happen to have curly hair via instagram! 

The experiment worked and here is what we did together. 

We first found a common cause that was close to our hearts, most of us did not know each other before the curl café and after that have remained friends and kept sharing our curl tips. Even though it was about drinking coffee, tea, and having curl conversation in the end what really brought us together was wanting to help others even in a small way. 

In total 9 people got together to donate and most went to the coffee shop and a few others due to schedulling issues sent their cash donations via wire transfer in order to purchase the goods for the elderly care home. We even got a spontaneous donation by the coffee shop that hosted us. 

When you have good intentions things do work out! 

The care home sent a list of needs! Here they are plus a card

The curl café team!

Don Vicente Coffee

Hogar Bolivar care home

As I reflect upon 2016 and my complicated relationship with Panama, I realize that my happiest moments there have always been related to volunteer & community work. This community spirit was somehow instilled in me by both my parents, no matter how busy all of us were there was always time to cook for someone or make a special donation or host a free origami workshop, something. 

My volunteering goal for 2017: is find an animal shelter were to work on my free time. Do you have a volunteering goal? Share it with me in the comments! Want to get started? I can help, just let me know. 

Have a happy life! 

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Carrie Fisher

I have no words, but I will still make the effort to write something about this remarkable woman and creative mind.
Who is Carrie Fisher? I did not know her personally, but if you follow me on IG you know I do 2 things asides hair, I science and I Star Wars, from my science (neuroscience) point of view she is the prime example of SURVIVAL. Carrie Fisher played princess Leia and General Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but she was much more grand than that.

3 words defined Carrie for me: RESILIENCE, COURAGE & HOPE.

She had a disease called bipolar disorder, which justified her behaviors in her early carreer & she struggled & talked openly about it as an advocate for Mental health and kept working.
People complained about her looks bla bla bla but taking certain medications may affect the way people look & her looks were beside the point anyways.

She made a career later on, after the original trilogy not based on looks but on hard work, harder than most, and she proved that she could be successful despite and because of her disadvantages (gender, mental health,etc) She was great until the last day. I highly recommend watching her interview with Steven Fry (he also has bipolar disorder and made a film about it, I disagree with leaving illness untreated but it was a good film) and also watch the red carpet interviews of the london premiere of The Force Awakens she was THE BEST! She will be missed but never forgotten by so many of us for so many reasons. I will remember her for her Courage to be herself and be a positive role model to anyone with Mood Disorders, the correct term, that you can you should try to live.

A note on Mental Health

The only people qualified to treat Mood Disorders are Doctors.

Not all my patients, had mood disorders but as a Doctor with a Neuroscience background I can treat mood disorders & anxiety on a basic level. I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I collaborated with them my scope of treatment of Mood Disorders is limited to mild to moderate cases of depression, but what all Mood disorders have in common is the sense of guilt and illness shaming.
I know the biology of depression,due to my background as a scientific communicator and physician; it is an illness where you can see in the brain a down regulation of serotonin receptors and many more things just like you can see blood when you cut your finger but the skin can be seen with the Naked eye and the brain can not.

I worked with a team that assessed the safety profile of an antidepressant drug some time ago and as it was obvious that I needed to know everything brain, to be able to communicate more effectively that was what got me hooked on neuroscience and guided my future academic interests.
My point is that having depression or Bipolar disorder nowadays and talking about it  is like saying you have the bubonic pest, but Carrie used her personal experience, influence and courage to talk about it for everyone who could be afraid to loose their family, livelihood or job for suffering from it. I once read on an interview that she hoped she could have romantic relationships, I will need to fact check this but it does sound like her alright and it made me feel a bit sad for her and reflect upon the need to do more to educate society about Mood Disorders in General.

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“Depression bipolar or not is a biological illness, it is an illness of an organ that happens to control the rest of the body” I said that.

Most people decide to call mental illness crazy or laziness. Family and friends sometimes are the most unhelpful, because of their poor attempts to “help” (out of ignorance) they either treat them (the patients) like less or blame them for their illness… and at work? don’t get me started about work place abuse and stigma.

About Mood Disorders in the clinical practice: My experience as a Physician

In my country, as a physician you don’t have to disclose in paper always any diagnosis; but what many employers do (unlawfully) is that they ask their workers to tell them, so I always made sure to educate all my patients to disclose symptoms instead of a diagnosis such as changes in bodily function instead of saying they have depression or anxiety. I usually referred my patients after the initial diagnosis and follow up because I  worked as a visiting physician only for a few months 2-3 and I could not do the long term follow up required for managing the brain biochemical imbalances that psychiatrists could, but I also know that more often than not those referrals were not followed up, by my patients because “if you visit a psichiatist you must be crazy right?” another stigma. One patient once told me that Neuroscience sounded better than psychiatry so he would not go see a crazy doctor and he might have been on to something there. The stigma in the society is a problem.
One Mentor gave me that advice (to protect mental health issues diagnosis from employers) when I was a med student, I enquired if it would not be deliberately lying about a diagnosis and she said “it is not lying, if it is the truth” and more often than not depression comes with visible physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders. I only understood why the secrecy was important until years later while sitting in my office with a mother crying because she was afraid that if she took the meds her boss would find out and fire her.

A powerful Carrie Fisher Quote

“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
Carrie Fisher

If you need help understanding mental health awareness, do not hesitate to contact me on my IG:Dr_vasquez_MD

May the Force be with you.

Rest in Peace Carrie Fisherimage

My Xmas of Blog: December 27

May the force be with Mark Hamill and the ones who loved Carrie personally. Carrie is Already one with the Force, I worry about the ones left behind. If you have followed me on IG you woukd know I scienced and I Star Wars

I know how it feels to loose a “favorite” one in the end if December, it changes you. There no way to overlook the things that are not about Xmas, or New year’s and it grinchifies you, but today is not about me it is about what Carrie Fisher represented and about how her Space Sibling must be suffering her loss

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My Xmas of Blog: December 26 


Going back to hair today I had a really great experience on the second day of Xmas. 

We first had breakfast with my husband, his father, sister and Oma & Opa (grandparents) and we played dice game to open the presents and it was awesome! 


We had a lovely family luncheon & asides from great food and company I must note that my husband’s cousin greeting was “I love your hair!” Then as we left the family luncheon, she politely asked if it was my natural hair or how I did it and I said it is natural to which she replied but it was straight before (2013) and I tood her that was chemical and this is the real one and THEN she said oh thats great because I like it so much better like this! 

I was beyond happy so I will write later a review on the products used to create the look! For now a picture!

2nd Day of Xmas wash & go


…and thus concludes my Xmas of blog challenge! Thank you for reading and if you want to see more hair you can find me on IG: @dr_vasquez_md

A Xmas of Blog: Frohe Weihnachten

Finally Xmas is here. I am was never particular about Xmas, for me the big Holiday is New year’s which was a highlight of life in Japan, but here in Germany it’s all about the Xmas season. 

Little traditions like the Adventskalender, or the socks of sweets for everyday of December until the 24th build up the excitement and happiness of the end of year. 

The Weihnachtsmarkt with the Glühwein, fire salmons, clever handy crafts & locally brewed spirits & Xmas beer make for December a specially wonderful time to be and live in Germany. 

Family is important here and most people are allowed to have 2 1/2 days off (even retail) to share with family, this is in stark contrast with the frenzy of consumerism of the United States or Panama; at first I did not like not having what I wanted when I wanted it, but now I plan my shopping better and appreciate that everyone is allowed in any industry at least Sunday’s off and most people get a 2 day weekend and the 2 days of Christmas Dec 25 & 26th except for urgent healthcare & the hospitality industry but that is only due to the nature of those services. 

Here you can see a photo diary of a few Xmas markets I got to visit this year 2016 

Hamburg

Hamburg

Fire cooked Salmon in Rasttat Market



My Xmas of Blog: December 24 

Xmas eve is just around the corner! Here in Germany that means more Glühwein & more Xmas markets, the celebrations here extend to December 26th so tonight is going to be a more relaxed Xmas eve that what we are used to in the American Continent while still having all the festive spirit with shopping & fun deco with the added benefit of the Weihnachtsmarkt in the bigger cities such as Hamburg, where my husband’s Family is from. 

The plan for today, a relax family breakfast and then off to theWeihnachtsmarkt   to drink all the Glühwein and eat all the fuerwurst! And just rejoice in the lovely, jolly and cosy atmosphere of thäe German Xmas Markets! And then another relaxed family dinner. We decided to only give gifts to my second nephew? and focus on the little one! On Dec 26th we will have the formal family lunch with Oma & Opa and the whole family! 


Now, About my last Adventkalendar’s gift: today I got a parfum. I am not a huge fan of trying new fragances so this was a bit of a buzzkiller for the last present but that being said, I remembered what I wrote yesterday about unexpected items and got excited again about trying something I would  not have otherwise. Once I test it I will let you know how it went but for now here is a picture of this cute little parfum bottle, that if I like will last me for quite sometime as it seems to be a full size product. 


I must admit it was a difficult challenge to write about something everyday, I missed day 2, but it was also fun and rewarding. 

I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and he recommends to write a story everyday if you want to be a writer and I can see why; it forces you to think creatively,  to look for clever ideas and more importantly to create a sense of duty & responsability  towards the job at hand, in this case blogging about my 1st Xmas in Germany as a resident of this awesome country since April 2016. I have been visiting Germany since 2009 and moving here was the best decision I made in 2015, snd saying yes to my then german boyfriend was the best decision of 2014! I could keep going back in time but I will stop there and have my eyes set on the future and my goals fixed on making it a bright happy future in my new home country! Prost! Frohe weihnachten!

My Xmas of Blog: December 22nd

Yesterday was a bit hectic so I could not present you with the gifts of my cosmetics calendsr so to make ip up I will share a mini review of the 1st gift of the 24 gifts included in the German Advent calendars. 

I purchased a Douglas Parfumerie calendar featuring some Douglas house brands ans so far I have liked every douglas ptoduct I have tried, I will blog about it soon I keep telling myself, so now I tell you and I make it a promise.


I am really looking forward to trying this pore minimizer for the holidays considering that smashbox is a good brand of makeup cosmetics. I have never tried it before so definitivelyexcited  at the prospect. 

Isadora Mascara Product Review: 

This mini mascara was the 1st item in the calendar found it in thr December 1st “window”. I have used it a couple of times and I like the results, but the drying time is a bit longer than what I am used to, so it requires a little bit of patience to not end up with raccoon eyes. 

I think it is a good mascara but I have used better ones from YSL & Lancome so I won’t be getting the full size anytime soon but for the price point, it is a pretty good product as it does give a very nice volume & fullness to my lashes without irritating my eyes. 

Hopefully see you tomorrow in this Xmas of Blog! 

Respect to all bloggers, blogging is no easy feat! 

My Xmas of Blog: December 23 unboxing happiness

The really fun thing about advent calendars is the surprise element of looking forward to discovering something new everyday and receiving a gift everyday; even if I paid for it, it was a fun way to discover products I would have never bought otherwise and honestly will never buy, but that story is for another blog post! Even though everything is cristal clear in the German Advent calendar unlike the Japanese Lucky bags which are a complete surprise, you can still choose to not know what you are going to get, by buying them very early in advance. Let me clarify that, I got this calendar when it came out a few months ago and I decided to not look at what products where inside, asides from the hair products which were the reason I got the calendar, you know the hair lab hehehe. 

Today’s product was a pleasant surprise because currently I am focusing on improving my dark circles and fine wrinkles and I got a product that is aimed at that from a brand I want to try in 2017. 

Last time I visited Douglas I wanted to buy shiseido for oil control and that is how I got introduced to annayake by the cosmetologist on site as a Douglas house brand with a similar quality as shiseido so I decided to try then and there the cleanser and was positively surprised. I ultimately went back to my regulars but it is nice to get to try a product from a new brand to me that I actually need, so I guess I will be posting a review of this eye antiaging cream in the future!

My Xmas of Blog Challenge 

Everything is a Challenge, specially in social media! I realized months ago that blogging is not something that comes easily to me for that reason I decided to learn from others in order to improve. Now at the end of the year some of my posts are shorter and I am slowly starting to kinda, sorta get the hang of it. 

As 2016 has been a challenging year for a lot of us I decided to end my blog year on a positive note sharing at least one blog post each day related to my favorite German Xmas tradition: The Advent Calendar. 

You can find all sorts of things in those calendars from calendars with sweets & chocolates to cosmetic samples. This year I chose the Douglas Advent calendar featuring mostly german brands and I have to say I was surprised by the good things I found and also got confused by the weird ones lol. 


Starting today I will blog about each product I have found or tested in the calendar so far, as a personal holiday blogging challenge to try & cultivate the discipline required to be considered a blogger. Shout out & my respect to all bloggers out there doing the good job! 

December 20th 


The smell of this shower gel is amazing, it is very mild and pleasant is it made in Germany so the quality standard should be high. I will update on it’s result once I have tried it, but I can tell you about one of my favorite calendar findings! The EOS Lip Balm. 


This lip balm contains moisturizing ingredients, and a clever design. This particular flavor is blackberry and it has a fresh sweet taste without being overwhelming. I keep it in my purse all the time and it is very useful now in winter when the lips, skin and hair gdt dehydrated. 

That is all for now in my cosmetics advent calendar daily blog posting Xmas challenge! 

Happy Holidays!