Three months ago I blissfully sat on the sandy beaches of my island of St. Croix in awe of its beauty. Happy to be away from the bustling streets of New York City and happy to be amongst my family and my people to celebrate our Centennial. The U.S.V.I was purchased from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million in gold. Yes, I am American, but I’ve always prided myself in being raised with the blended customs of my Puerto Rican and Cruzan heritage.

Twelve days after Category 5 Hurricane Irma caused destruction throughout the Caribbean, Maria, also a Category 5, was named the 13th hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Her direct hit brought mass devastation to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico while trying to recover from Hurricane Irma. St. Croix, St.John, and St. Thomas are experiencing massive structural damage and a one-hundred percent loss of electricity just like Puerto Rico. Only those with power generators have power and the power restoration across the entire island will take months according to Governor Mapp. There is also a lack of telephone and internet service, making the communication to the mainland U.S. hard.

Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: Matthias Abraham
Photo Credit: @ladydivigirl
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: @jlyons462

The days that pass since Maria have been filled with sadness, concern, helplessness, and a sense of guilt that I am safe in the comforts of my NYC apartment while my people are suffering from the aftermath of Maria.  My heart is heavy and my eyes repeatedly and randomly release tears. Many of my Caribbean friends and family that live here on the mainland are still waiting to hear from loved ones on Puerto Rico and in the V.I. Many of us stateside are not only concern with the physical state of our family and friends, but their emotional and mental state. We are struggling with how we can help rebuild from a distance.

Many Virgin Island residents felt abandon and felt as if the news outlets were largely focused on Puerto Rico and the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to Florida and the mainland. I want you all to know you are not forgotten nor abandon! We love you all! I have family on both U.S territories and they are both experiencing loss of property and power and food shortages. What I love about my people is our warmth and unity! We have to unite our efforts here on the mainland to help our loved ones back home.

The items listed below can be purchased at the dollar store if you have a limited budget. Anything helps! Below I have posted where you can donate hurricane relief supplies for the U.S. Virgin Islands AND Puerto Rico with locations here in NYC and Tampa, FL.

Photo Credit: @cruzanrumpapi
Donate Critically-Needed Items for Hurricane Relief in U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Non-Perishable Food
  • Dry Snacks
  • New Socks
  • New Underwear
  • Baby Supplies
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Pasta
  • Dish Liquid
  • Rice
  • Pancake Mix
  • Paper Towel
  • Deodorant
  • Adult Pampers
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo 
  • Conditioner
  • Batteries (All Types)
  • Flashlights
  • Bug Repellant
  • Children’s books/ Workbooks
  • School Supplies
 
** NO Cash or Water** 
 
Bronx, NY
 
Bronxchester
725 St. Ann’s Avenue
Bronx, NY 10455
Between: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Monday – Friday
 
Damascus Christian Church
170 Mt. Eden
Bronx, NY 10457
Sundays: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 6:30 p.m.
 
Criminal Court
215 E. 161st Street
2nd Floor
Outside Room 230
 
Superior Court
851 Grand Concourse
Room 319
*See Iris*
 
If you can’t make these times or would rather donate money, please donate to Tim Duncan’s 21 US Virgin Island Relief Fund or Kenny Chesney’s Love City Love Foundation. 
 
Tampa, FL
Tres Chic Carnival Troupe held a relief drive today that ended at 3:00 p.m. Contact them at treschiccarnival@gmail.com with questions. 
 
 
Donate Critically-Needed Items for Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico
 
Across the five boroughs, 17 firehouses and EMS stations are collecting critically-needed items for hurricane relief for the people of Puerto Rico.

The City is encouraging donations of the following five items:

  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Feminine hygiene products

All donated items must be non-perishable, not second-hand, nor contain  liquids of any kind. Open or unsealed donations of food or hygiene supplies will not be accepted. At this time, only the five items listed above are being collected.

The following locations will accept your donations of the above listed critically needed items:

Manhattan

  • Engine 91 (East Harlem)
    242 East 111th Street
    Cross Streets: 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue
  • Engine 95 / Ladder 36 (Inwood)
    29 Vermilyea Avenue
    Cross Streets: Dyckman Street and Academy Street
  • Engine 28 / Ladder 11 (Lower East Side)
    222 East 2nd Street
    Cross Streets: Avenue B and Avenue C

Bronx

  • EMS Station 26 (Morrisania)
    1264 Boston Road
    Cross Streets: EAST 168 Street and EAST 169 Street
  • EMS Station 55 (Melrose)
    3134 Park Avenue
    Cross Streets: EAST 159 Street and EAST 160 Street
  • Engine 64 / Ladder 47 (Castle Hill)
    1214 Castle Hill Avenue
    Cross Streets: Gleason Avenue and Ellis Avenue
  • Engine 83 / Ladder 29 (Mott Haven/South Bronx)
    618 East 138th Street
    Cross Streets: St. Anns Avenue and Cypress Avenue

Queens

  • Engine 316 (East Elmhurst)
    27-12 Kearney Street
    Cross Streets: 27th Avenue and 101 Street
  • Engine 289 / Ladder 138 (Corona)
    97-28 43rd Avenue
    Cross Streets: 97th Place and 99th Street
  • Engine 307 / Ladder 154 (Jackson Heights)
    81-17 Northern Boulevard
    Cross Streets: 81st Street and 82nd Street

Brooklyn

  • Engine 271 / Ladder 124 (Bushwick)
    392 Himrod Street
    Cross Streets: Wyckoff Avenue and St. Nicholas Avenue
  • Engine 277 / Ladder 112 (Bushwick)
    582 Knickerbocker Avenue
    Cross Streets: Gates Avenue and Palmetto Street
  • Engine 218 (Bushwick)
    650 Hart Street
    Cross Streets: Myrtle Avenue and Central Avenue
  • Engine 201 / Ladder 114 (Sunset Park)
    5113 4th Avenue
    Cross Streets: 51st Street and 52nd Street
  • Engine 228 (Sunset Park)
    436 39th Street
    Cross Streets: 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue

 
Staten Island

  • Engine 153 / Ladder 77 (Stapleton)
    74 Broad Street
    Cross Streets: Wright Street and Quinn Street
  • Engine 157 / Ladder 80 (Port Richmond)
    1573 Castleton Avenue
    Cross Streets: Port Richmond Avenue and Faber Street
  • Ladder 79 (Port Richmond)
    1189 Castleton Avenue
    Cross Streets: Roe Street and Taylor Street
 

 
Tampa
 
**Refer to USVI List of Relief Items Above. Water is accepted at these locations.**
 
4916 S Lois Avenue  
Tampa, FL 33611
 
2701 North Himes Avenue
Tampa, FL 33607
Hurricane Maria STT
Photo Credit: Chunikwa George

I will be reposting other locations I find on my social media. We have a long way to go to rebuild but we can do it together. If you guys know of anymore location please leave a comment below or on my social media pages (@wwmelizzaw).

 

Besitos,

Melizza

Now, I know some daring women are breaking many fashion rules and are looking great while doing so! But, I have one fashion rule I believe every woman (plus & straight size) should follow while wearing shorts and heels to look stylish.
 
Itsy bitsy teenie weenie shorts should NOT be paired with extremely high heels.
 
 
Shades: A.J. Morgan, Sweater: Gap, Shorts: Forever 21, Heels: JustFab, Crossbody: Thrifted, Watch: Geoffrey Beene

When it comes to pairing shorts and heels, the shorts’ length and the heel height play a major role. And proportion is key. If you want to wear short shorts with a smaller inseam, pair it with a short block heel sandal (2″ or below). The longer your shorts, the higher the heels you can wear.

Photographer: Henrietta M.

Personally, I enjoy bending the rules, but for all you rebels continue breaking fashion rules if it makes you feel and look fabulous.

Besitos,

Melizza

Levi's jean jacket, Fashion to figure romper

Someone once told me to view my life as a train with many exciting destinations. Along the way, it will stop to pick up new passengers but not every passenger will make it to the final destination. Returning to Tampa was nostalgic for me, but it made me realize that many passengers that were once on my train, weren’t.

I begin to struggle with guilt because I felt myself growing, pursuing my dreams, and wanting more. And as I grew, my circle changed. It was an uncomfortable place; feeling the distance with the people that I was once close to. But, it is a necessary place.

Romper: Fashion To Figure, Necklace: Sincerely Tommy, Clutch: Thrifted, Ring: Thrifted, Heels: Olivia Miller

At some point, you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and live in what is happening. Sometimes growing up means growing apart. But, true friends can grow separately without growing apart. I don’t have the energy or desire for any superficial relationships whether they are platonic or romantic. Point blank. End of discussion.

Photographer: Ebony Bolt

Healthy Relationships Consist of 6 Things:

* Accountability
* Cooperation
* Honesty
* Safety
* Support
* Trust

Besitos,

Melizza

** My jean jacket is from Levi’s and no longer available**

When presented with a much needed R&R opportunity for the weekend with my girl friend Raisa, I didn’t think twice before accepting. We agreed upon relaxing and exploring Philadelphia, PA. At this time, Raisa and I had never traveled together so we both knew this trip would put our friendship to the ultimate test.
 
Raisa was the best travel companion!  We both had a list of attractions and restaurants we wanted to visit and we were extremely flexible with timing. We both agreed that: we did not want to wake to an alarm, we would start our day whenever we were ready with no rush, and we would spend the entire day out doing activities while making the most of our time together.
Before I recommend what to enjoy in Philly, I have five simple things you should look for in you travel companion and a questionnaire that may make you fall in love with your travel companion!
 
  1. Share some common interests. You and your travel companion’s interests will determine how you both will be spending your time. This saves you conflict on your trip when determining where to go together.
  2. Avoid people who tend to extremes. I personally do not travel well with any one who excessively plans out the entire trip and adheres to a strict itinerary.
  3. Make sure you enjoy each other’s company. You and your companion should be able to talk about pretty much anything, yet enjoy each other’s company in silence. If not, you should travel by yourself.
  4. Agree on expenditures and activities before you leave. You don’t have to necessarily budget and plan everything out, but having an idea of what you’d like to do and what you can avoid will save you from embarrassment and a headache. 
  5. Travel with someone who is flexible and open-minded.  I believe if you want to get the most out of traveling one must be open to new cultures and experiences. If not, you’ll always end up eating the same meals, doing the same activities, and learning absolutely nothing. That’s not true traveling. 

Raisa and I grew closer during our meals by asking and honestly answering each other the questions on The New Times’ “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love” . If you haven’t answer these questions before with a relative, significant other, or a friend, I highly recommend that you do. If answered sincerely, you both will learn something beyond superficial details.

Here are the places and activities Raisa and I enjoyed during our R&R weekend in Philly. 
 
Places to Go

Places to Eat

Exploring a new city should always be interesting and exciting! Make sure you are compatible with your travel companion to ensure you have an enjoyable adventure.

Besitos,

Melizza

“Respect your uniqueness and drop comparison. Relax into your being.” – Osho
 
 
Today, there’s a divide on social media’s long-term consequences. On one hand, there’s a belief that we have cultivated this culture of needing things to be “picture perfect” and that we have created a pressure based the amount of “followers” which then  pressures some users to create a  false narrative. And although I don’t  see social media entirely as an evil, I have seen how its negative impact.
There are two main components of social media: its content and its networking capabilities. I am guilty of browsing through the several platform’s content for endless hours and appreciate the ability to network and meet amazing individuals I would have never had the opportunity of meeting. But, navigating through today’s social media landscape without comparison or envy can be difficult. So whenever I am tempted to compare myself to others on social media I remind myself of Osho’s quote above.
 
“Respect your uniqueness and drop comparison. Relax into your being.”
 
We all have our individual qualities that separate us for every one else. Embrace them and proudly display them. 
Photographer: Reemy-Reemz Alexander
**My entire outfit was purchased at K-Mart in St. Croix (insert shocked face)**
 
Besitos,
 
Melizza 
 
 
 

This may come as a shock, but I’ve been a nanny for almost 10 years! It’s actually how I began styling and I continued to do so while living in NYC. And was even recognized nationally as “Rockstar Nanny” with a reputable Upper East Side agency. Along the way I’ve learned many valuable life lessons and here are a few golden nuggets I cherish. 

1. Reserve a block of time for personal quiet time every day.

 Any typical day, especially with a toddler, can be extremely demanding so this is a great way to re-energize. If the child is too old for a nap time, make sure you schedule a quiet actiity for you both. You and the child can choose to read, meditate, journal, color, or whatever it is you need to take a break separately. I believe kids should learn to be comfortable doing things they enjoy alone because let’s face is as adults we’re not always going to be around people and I believes it gives us a better sense of ourselves. 

2. Learn to be flexible.

You will have plans and life WILL interrupt them. Ha, honestly have you ever gotten out of the house with multiple children under 5 in under five minutes? If so, please tell me your secret! 

3. Do not feel guilty for needing a break!

When I first started I worked part-time and  everyday novelties were easy. But, after a while it starts to take its toll just like any other job. There have been many times I have overworked myself and felt guilty for wanting to rest so I’d continue to work. What usually ended up happening was that I’d get really ill where I had no choice but to rest. Listen to your body. No one know you better than yourself.

4. Most of your stress comes from the way your respond so you must have patience.

Kids are constantly growing and learning, which can sometimes takes countless tries. You need to have patience when they are completing a task you know you can do faster or when things don’t go as planned, because with kids this happens often. Change what can be change and let everything else go. No need for the extra stress… will whatever it is matter 5 day or 5 months from now? If the answer is no, then let it go and breathe!

5.It’s better to over-pack than under-pack.

You’re shoulders may hate you since your diaper bag will be heavy, but your sanity will adore you! Because in that moment that child wants or needs something you don’t have, you will feel like you have less than 30 seconds to diffuse a tiny human explosive!  And trust me, NO ONE wants to witness that explosion! 

 
6. Good parents have THE HARDEST job in THE WORLD.
As a nanny, I’ve gotten a first hand glimpse. But, I get to check out at the end of the day and don’t have to worry about the kids (not saying I don’t think of them). Parents don’t have that luxury. Which has earned my respect in many ways.
 
While my time as a nanny had a bittersweet ending, the memories will last forever. If you are thinking of becoming a nanny, please realize it is an enormous commitment involving a lot of energy and the ability to be selfless. There will be highs and lows but in the end it is absolutely rewarding.
 
Besitos,
 
Melizza

Photographer: Reemy-Reemz Alexander
I know there is a constant pressure to look a certain way and it can be a strain on your finances. But take it from me, you do NOT have to break the bank to look amazing. I shop at discount stores, the clearance rack, and on apps like Poshmark and Ebay for certain labels. Some months I feel like I go overboard with shopping for my wardrobe and then I have some months where I have a “dry spell”. But, if you are financial saavy and responsible (or trying to be like me) there is a simple equation to help you become more responsible. Are you ready for it?
 
THP(.05) = Wardrobe Allowance
 
You should only spend 5% of your take home pay on your wardrobe. According to award-winning financial planner, Pete Dunn, you should only spend this small percentage on clothing. I’ve definitely gone over for this month. *shocked face*  But, I’ve gone on a shopping diet so it should even out. This is such a simple equation you can easily memorize it. To get the exact dollar amount multiply your take-home pay by (.05). Go ahead and pull out your cell to use  your calculator if you have…I’m not judging *winks*.  When you know better, you do better.
 
In the photo above I am proudly wearing a dress purchased from Marianne’s in St. Croix  (which is Rainbow in the America) for $5 and my SM pumps from K-Mart for $29.99. I have easily spent more than this on a meal in the city. I used to be obsessed with labels but now I can care less! If I like it, I’m purchasing it no matter where it’s from. Take it from me, it’s freeing when you don’t let superficial things like that control what you wear and how you dress.
 
Besitos,
 
Melizza

Time always seems to fly when you having fun! That’s why when I go on my 48-hours weekend wanders I try to maximize each to the fullest. Now I’m not an intense planner, but I typically create a “must-see” list of attractions and restaurants. Then after visiting those places first, I usually just “go with the flow.”
 
I must say, I do not have an enormous budget, so most of my activities are free and a majority of my budget goes to my accommodations, dining, and museums. You don’t have to be rich to wander a new city. If you’d like to know how I budget for my weekend wanders, just ask.  I’m not a ashamed to share. Below is list of my recommendations while visiting Boston, Massachusetts for 48 hours. 
 
Places to See
Places to Eat
Things to Do:
  • Shop on Newbury Street
  • Go on a Duck Tour ($39.50)
  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Grab a late night cocktail and dance at Alibi

Places to Stay:

  • Airbnb ($70/night)

**I’ve provided links so you can view information on tickets or menus options. None of these links are a part of an affiliate program.

Besitos,

Melizza

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.” ~ Caroline Myss
 
When I saw this AQ/AQ men’s top I was excited and nervous about it at the same time! This top covers everything yet reveals everything. I had never owned anything like it before. It was daring and slightly risqué, but I just knew I had to have it! This outfit is somewhat reflective of how I’ve been feeling currently.  To me, it symbolizes my desire to break free from my comfort zone.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to be fearless. And that my comfort zone is a trap. Nothing amazing ever happens in your comfort zone! Point blank, end of discussion. Everything you’ve ever dreamt of is right outside the borders you have limited yourself withing. I’ve wanted to give up since things have gotten extremely hard but know I deserved more and my dreams are worth each struggle. And so are yours!

Earrings: H&M, Sunglasses: A.J. Morgan, Top: AQ/AQ, Sport Bra: Victoria's Secret, Jeans: Levi's, Heels: Mossimo
Photographer: Henrietta M. (@therealhbmedia)
 
Don’t let the lust for comfort murder the passions of your soul. 
 
Besitos,
 
Melizza

Back in November, I had an amazing opportunity to be photographed once again for the lovely photographer Bruna Lacerda’s #ichoosemeproject. The difference this time was that I wasn’t the only one in front of her lens. I was among other full figured bloggers, models, and artists who each believed in the power of self-esteem without any fear. 
I take you back to November because it was in that moment, among those beautiful women, that the weight of allowing many things to negatively affect my self-esteem became too heavy to bare. I knew I had to fight for myself even if it meant standing by myself. I had to let go of unhealthy relationships, create boundaries for myself (again), and put my overall health back on the priority list. Now I’m not saying I completed all of these things magically over night. I did some self-reflection, acknowledged what was affecting me, and began to rid myself of those things…and I am still doing so.

At first I felt selfish, but if there is one thing that New York City continues to teach me is that my personal health is far more important than anything else. When I say “health” I’m referring to my emotional, mental, and physical health. Like Bruna said, “There is nothing wrong in choosing ourselves and loving ourselves first so we can be confident enough to help others to love themselves too.”

portrait, plus size model,
Bodysuit: Ashley Stewart
I invite you on my journey of choosing and loving myself first and I challenge you to do the same. It is not selfish…you’ll be able to love others more by loving yourself first. Here  I will be nothing but honest, and sometimes vulnerable, but always authentically me. 
Besitos,
 Melizza
 

**All the portraits above were taken by the lovely Bruna Lacerda. To learn more about Bruna’s mission click here: #ichoosemeproject

© 2017 What Would Melizza Wear, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED