Intentional Daily Living to Achieve Your Goals with Stephanie Oquendo
Hey everybody! Now we’re here with our Dare To Leap podcast. Today, I have the honor of interviewing Stephanie Oquendo. She is an author, content creator, mom, wife, and key member of a corporate executive team. Wow! Do you think she has enough hats she has to wear? Just to give you a little insight. That’s part of what she’s going to be talking with us about today. Through her own journey, Stephanie realized the power that every woman holds to cultivate and live a life of her own design by valuing and prioritizing herself. Oh, my goodness, Stephanie, that’s so powerful. I’m so excited to interview you about this. Stephanie’s hope and mission is to help every woman realize the same. She believes self-care should be a standard, not a luxury. And Stephanie lives in New York City with her beautiful family. Welcome to dare to leap, Stephanie.
Thank you, Kathy. I’m so excited to be here.
So, Stephanie and I know each other because we have worked together. Stephanie has edited videos for me and things like that, and she has her own business. In addition to being a wife, mom, and a member of a corporate executive team, she’s also written this beautiful book, Me Time. So, Stephanie, my first question for you is why did you decide to write Me Time?
Well, Me Time really came out of my own journey. I started journaling in the format that meantime is in during a very hectic time in my life. So, I’ll backtrack a little bit. I’ve always been in to journaling. I’ve always been a writer. That’s how I best express myself. But I’ve always journaled in more of an expressive way, in more of a sporadic way, just whenever I felt like it. No real like aim or focus. And around the time that I became a new mom and shortly after that I started my side business. And I was also still working in corporate. I was pretty overwhelmed to say the least. There was a lot of new stuff happening. And so I really felt like I needed more control. I needed more control of my days. I needed to feel proactive and intentional versus reacting to everything.
Cause I was jumping literally from one thing to the next and never being present in anything. And so just little by little, this kind of, more intentional form of journaling, just kind of organically resulted. So I would do things like make sure right when I started in the morning, right. When I woke up, I focused on gratitude. And so little by little, I just habitually kept doing that because I found that it was helping me. It was helping my mood and it was helping my day go better. I was a lot more able to handle whatever was thrown at me if I gave myself that time in the morning to focus on that. And I would still be free. I think that’s very important. I just think that that’s not enough. I think you have to also, there are certain prompts and questions that you should ask yourself every day just to make sure you’re on track.
So, along with gratitude, gratitude is the first part of my, four-part formula, I guess you can call it. The four prompts that I like to focus on every single day, because I really feel like they keep me focused and they keep me productive and moving towards the direction I want to go in. And they also keep me sane. So along with gratitude, celebration is very important. I found that I was doing a lot of stuff and I was always busy and I was never acknowledging my successes. I would just always think, Oh my gosh, I have so much more to do. If you look at it that way, there are a million more things that you have to do, but it’s very important to acknowledge what you have done.
What has gotten you to this point, after celebration intention?
So, what did I feel I needed from my days? Sometimes I felt very overwhelmed and so my intention would be slow my pace, take it easy today. And I would literally write that so that it would be, I could remind myself and just kind of look for those opportunities throughout the day. And then lastly priorities. Because as busy women, we have to do lists miles long and everything seems urgent. Everything seems important and we have to get it done right now. But that’s just not the case. If you focus on what your true priorities are in this current season of your life, that’s also something to be mindful of. There’s a time and place for everything. And just making sure that the things that you’re trying to focus on throughout the day actually makes sense that they align with the bigger priorities in your life and the direction that you are looking to have.
And I think three is a magic number for me. If I focus on three and I get those done, I feel accomplished. I used to just try to fit in as much as possible. And, it just wasn’t sustainable. And, also having three things that you accomplish, now you can celebrate those things. Remember, go back to the first part. You can say, I got this done, I got this done. And it doesn’t have to be the biggest things. Like sometimes for me it’s I got laundry done. Like literally that’s so worth celebrating. That’s a big thing. So, this book, I was journaling this week for a while and I was just doing it in a regular spiral bound, empty notebook. I would have this kind of structure for myself. And, it wasn’t until the end of last year that I had the idea of actually taking this formula and putting it into a journal of my own because I knew if it helped me, then it has to be able to help other women out there in my same situation.
Yeah. So, I’m just going to open the book so people can see inside here that what she’s talking about is every day you have the sections that you just talked about. You have the section at the top for, “I Am Grateful”. And then a section for, “I am proud of myself for…” and then a section “My intention is…”. And I want to talk a little bit more about that in a minute. And then your boxes at the bottom to type in what your three priorities are. And then over on the opposite side is the space for the free writing like you were talking about. So, nobody has to think about, or write down this formula she talked about because when you get this book, it’s all laid out like this and you can see that the book is not a skinny little book. It’s really nice. The pages feel beautiful, they feel luxurious, it looks beautiful. And so while you’re writing in it, you’re going to have that luxury feel that becomes a standard for your life. And by the way, I didn’t share the subtitle on this, which is A Guided Journal for Self-Reflection and Intentional Direction. I love that subtitle. So, talk a little bit more about the section that “My intention is…”.
Yeah. So actually, when I was receiving feedback from the journal, that was actually a section that, or a prompt that women were having trouble with. They were asking me, how do you come up with your intention? And I always tell them, just think about what you need. Like, that’s the whole purpose of being able to be present, so you can hear your thoughts, so you can feel what your body is telling you, what your intuition is telling you. So that’s how you can come up with it. And then if you’re intentional throughout your day, if you have that in your mind, if you have your attention in your mind, your brain is going to find ways to make it happen. And I think that’s why it’s so important to stop and set that for yourself. You can decide the tone for your day and you can decide what you get out of it. You don’t have to react to everything. You have more control than you think.
So, give us an example of an intention that you might set for yourself or intentions that you might set for yourself on any one day.
Yes. So, I mentioned before, overwhelm is a big problem that we deal with as busy women, as ambitious women. So, sometimes my intention is slow. It’s peace. Other times I may need a little bit more of a boost. I may need some extra motivation and energy. And so my intention is just go get it, like do the thing, you know? I think it’s just every day is different for all of us. And really tuning into your body and tuning into what your intuition is telling you is really important.
So, I’d like to give people a clearer idea. Cause you know, I like to be a little bit of a voyeur and I think a lot of people are like that. You know, if I go on a walk in my neighborhood, I want to look inside people’s windows and see what’s going on in their life. So, let’s give people a little look inside what a day in the life of Stephanie Oquendo is like. Give us an example of your typical Monday through Friday. When do you get up? What do you do? And then, all the way through to what time you go to bed at night?
Okay, sure. So I wake up around 5:00 AM and that’s my me time. So, from five to about 6:30 is on a typical day. I have that time to myself. So I start off with coffee that’s number one every single day about my coffee. And then I sit and I journal, I’ll play some music in the background, make relaxing music. I might light a candle and I’ll journal. And then I’ll meditate. Those are the three main things that are kind of nonnegotiable for me. And then after that I have some time to work on my business. I call it my important work time. So, I’ll do whatever needs to be done that day, for my personal stuff. And then my son is up, so we’ll get him ready and pretty much after my son is up, it’s go, go, go. It’s nonstop. So, we’ll get some breakfast, get him ready and dressed for school, get him over to school, then commute to work. I get to work around 8:30 or 9:00, and then I’m there until 5:30-6:00. And then I come home and it’s dinner time, it’s family time. And then I call it a night pretty early, because by that time I’m exhausted. I can’t function after 9pm. And then I wake up and I do it all over again.
So, what’s your work hours at your corporate job?
Work hours are nine to five. So, I’m currently in quarantine, right? So I’m working from home. I’m trying to go back to when I was actually going into the office and it was nine to five, nine to six.
Okay. And so you had to get up that early at five, not only to get ready for work, but to have some me time and then to be able to get your son gone. How old is your son right now?
He’s four years old.
What a great age. He has to have so much energy.
So much, so much. I wish I could like take some and bottle it up just like a quarter percent. Anything.
And then, you’re also married. How does your husband get involved in all of this? How do you guys manage that?
We’re literally partners. I couldn’t do it without him. I couldn’t do it without him. I couldn’t do it with the family that’s close to me. It literally takes a village. And so he picks him up from school every day because I’m at work later and we pretty much tag team our way through life.
So, any tips for women who are listening to this and think, I wish my partner would be a partner with me in our relationship and help with the children. Any tips on how to get your husband as involved as yours is?
I would say it starts with a heart to heart, just being really honest, sitting down and being really honest and saying, look, this is what’s important to me. This is what I have going on. This is your child too, so let’s make it work. Just really making him feel like a partner and let him do his thing because if you’re constantly micromanaging, he doesn’t feel as equal as you. So, I think just respecting him and his parenting and he respecting me and my parenting. Coming together when we need to. I would say it’s, it’s all about communication. All about communication.
Yeah. Good tip. And when you get home, how do you eat? What do you cook? Does your husband cook or do you order in, what do you guys do?
I almost never cook. And that’s why I mentioned family because I live very close to family and I’m so thankful to have my aunt actually live on the floor above me. We have a multi-story house. And also my cousin who’s like my sister and my grandfather. They help me so much also with my son. I don’t have to come home and worry about cooking, which is a blessing.
Oh, that’s huge. So, you get good, home cooked meals that you don’t even have to cook.
That’s great. And that is important to have family like that. And even if you don’t have literal blood family, please don’t become a victim and think, well, she’s lucky she has a family. You can create your own family. Stephanie, any words of wisdom on that?
For sure. Friends, neighbors, you know, can you switch off, can you do the tag team thing I talked about earlier, can they watch your child for two hours a week? And then the next week you can watch their child so they can do something. I think there’s always a way. I think we have a hard time asking for help and that’s the main thing. We can get over that then, we’ll start finding resources.
Any tips on how to get over, asking for help? You know, the, Oh, I don’t want to bother people. Or, if I asked for help, it feels like I’m bothering them and maybe they’ll think I can’t do it all. I’m not capable.
Oh God. I think really just releasing that need to control everything. I think when you try to control everything, you feel like you’re out of control. Like you’re not in control of anything, the more you force it and push, the less in control you feel. And also just know that you’re also helping, it’s not where you’re asking for them to just do something for you. You’re also willing to contribute to that partnership. So, partnership versus I need you to do this for me.
Right? Yes. Oh, that is such wise information. So, Stephanie, you always look perfect. I have never seen you when you didn’t have your hair perfect. Have your makeup perfect. Your chair is perfect. Your background is perfect. And, I’ve seen you in several different situations and at several different times. And you always look like this. How do you have time to do that?
First, I just want to say, I don’t always look like this. I’m just used to getting myself ready, getting myself presentable because I am in the corporate world. And so that’s just something that I’m used to doing, waking up, putting some makeup on, doing my hair, making sure my outfit is decent. And then, as far as my space, that’s something that I’ve recently found has helped me a lot. Like cultivating a space, a beautiful space that just has good energy because it helps me with my energy. Having things around my house, like little things like plants or certain paint color. I find that that really helps me. I can’t deal with clutter. Whatever I see is what my mind holds. So I have to be intentional even with that stuff.
So, if anybody’s not watching this on video, you might want to go to my YouTube channel and check it out because Stephanie, and I don’t mean to embarrass you by saying this, but you look like a model or a movie star and she always does. And in fact, if you want to see some amazing photos of Stephanie and her family, Stephanie, where can people go to see all those photos that you post?
Oh, Instagram. I’m always on Instagram. So, you can find me on Instagram. It’s just my name’s Stephanie underscore. I love to be on there. Let’s hang out on there.
And, everybody just know that I will have in the show notes, the link to Stephanie’s Instagram site, the link to where you can purchase her book. And while we’re talking about that, won’t you just tell everybody where they can purchase your book meantime?
So, it’s available on Amazon. If you type in my name, Stephanie Oquendo, it’ll pop up. If you go to my website stephanieoquendo.com, there’s something to purchase on there. It’s on my Instagram. It’s everywhere. Cause I want to get it in as many hands as possible.
Yeah. And as soon as it became available, I bought it. It’s just, I don’t know if you can see again, if you’re not watching the video, you might want to go look at it. Cause I’m showing the book. It’s a beautiful cover, beautiful colors. Are these the colors that you were talking about and that make you feel happy in your house too?
Yes. Well, the cover was very intentional. So, when I have my me time, it’s in the early morning. And so I always have the privilege of watching the sunrise and I love to see all of the colors. I love the violets and the pinks. And so I knew that I wanted those colors, it represents it on the journal for sure.
And that is exactly what it looks like. I hadn’t made that connection, that it looks like a sunrise. It is absolutely gorgeous. And it does look like a sunrise. Oh, I’m so glad I asked that question cause now I really get it. So, you have a four-year-old child, you’re married, you have a full-time corporate job. That means a lot to you and you truly enjoy it. When did you have time to write a book?
So, I tell women this all the time because I get that question a lot. And I say time, I realized, is something that you really have to make. You have to maximize. When I decided to write this book or when I decided to start seeking more care of myself and giving myself that time in the morning, I didn’t get extra hours. Nothing became easier. I just had to work with what I have. And so every day I have at least two hours, I’ve been able to carve out at least two hours a day where I can work and focus on my personal business. And, that’s just how I was able to do it. I set out with a very specific goal date that I wanted the journal to be released and that was April 11th.
That was exactly three months from the date that I decided to I was going to do this. I was going to self-publish my journal. And from there I just kind of worked backwards. So, I created a roadmap for myself. After doing some research on Google and finding out all that was entailed and self-publishing a book, I just started making a list like, okay, I have to do this. I have to do that. I have to do that. Putting them in order, figuring out, Hey, what were the main steps I have to take? And I’ll break those out and what are all of the baby steps I have to take to get there? And, I mean like tiny, tiny, like the tiniest most actionable, most tangible steps I could take because it was the only way that I would be able to do it with the time that I had.
So, being very intentional with that, I set dates for everything. And I held myself accountable to those dates. And again, just making it really simple, making it something that I knew I could do with the timeframe that I had. Keeping my date up all the time to just remind myself, keep myself on track and focus. I think, I have shiny object syndrome or I’ve suffered from the past people. Do I do something and then another, I mean, I have a myriad of ideas in my head at any one time. And I want to act on all of them because I’m creative and I wanna bring them into fruition. But, what I noticed is, okay, my energy is already split as it is, you know? So in that time that I have to dedicate to my business, I really have to be focused. It’s not to say that I can’t do these things one day, but right now this is my focus. This is what I need to get done and then needs to see it to completion. And so I think that was also really key in getting the journals done in the timeframe that I did.
So, did you ever have times where you’re like, all right today, I know I have to do this, but I just don’t feel like it. And then how did you snap out of that and do it anyway?
Yes. Those it’s never going to look perfect and look perfect for me. There were days where I just wanted to sleep in and there’s still days where I feel like I most days actually I felt like I want to sleep, but I know that if I do, there’s a cost there. I’m not going to get that time back. And my day’s just not going to be the same. And this journal was really important to me. And the reason behind the journal is really important to me, who I want to help is really important to me. And so I kept just trying to keep that at the forefront and get out of my own way and stop worrying about me so much. And, I think when you do that, when you can make your purpose, it shows in the book. When you can make your purpose, your focal point, you’ll get out of your head, you’ll get out of your own way and you’re getting into action.
Oh, I love that. So, don’t focus on what you’re going to get out of it so much as what the purpose and the mission that you have in your why. Why you’re doing this. Yes. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. So, in your business, is there anything else that you want to share with people about your business itself?
Well, I’m a content creator. I have a YouTube channel and I’m really focusing on making that more of a priority this year, focusing on all of the content that I bleed out in the journal. I also am on Instagram all the time. I really try to spread my message and my mission through those platforms and reach as many people as possible. So I would say the other part of my business is definitely social media.
Okay. And can you share your YouTube channel with everybody so that they know where they can go watch you and then talk a little bit about what your videos are that you’re putting on there now?
Sure. So it’s just my name. Stephanie Oquendo, you’ll find that I made it really easy for me to remember my name, my name you’ll find me.
And what kind of information are you sharing on your YouTube channel?
I share a lot about self-care, productivity. All of these things intertwine. I love to share inspiration and motivation. I love to share my own experiences and story. I have to weave that into my content. And just like tangible tips that anyone can do at any date and make progress and to change your life.
Yeah. And do you still have your videos from a couple of years ago on there where you teach people how to put on makeup and things like that?
Yes. I keep all of my videos up. Yeah. So everything.
Because I really loved the videos. I used them to try to begin to learn how to put on makeup. You would think at my age, I would already have that figured out, but you know, Stephanie, I don’t, so I will go and watch those videos over and over again because you give great tips and you demonstrate how to put the makeup on in a way that I could understand and, believe me, it’s not easy for me to understand how to put on makeup!
By the way, I don’t have any makeup on today. So, don’t be looking at me and going, this is how you put on makeup based on how Stephanie taught you? No, I don’t have any on today. Surprise, surprise.
So, you mentioned that self-care should be a standard, not a luxury. So, could you talk a little bit more about that? About why you believe that a lot of people think it is luxury and why it shouldn’t be?
Yes, I think as women and moms and business owners and career women, I think we have a lot of priorities. We have a lots of pending on us all the time. And so it’s easy for us to kind of put that first, you know, like I don’t get it done who is going to get it done. And then, when I have time, I’ll go do something for myself. But again, like I said earlier, it’s like time waste for no one. Like if you’re not intentional with your time, it’s gonna get away from you. And I think that women also feel like it’s selfish.
If they do something like it’s first thing in the morning, it’s before anything, that’s my time. And that’s nonnegotiable. So, I think again, you have that to-do list in your head and you have everyone else’s agendas in your head. And women are just naturally giving and nurturing and we can’t help it. But I also feel like, on the flip side, if we can get away from the notion that self-care is selfish and realize that taking care of yourself matters just as much as taking care of anyone else. And when you can give yourself that standard and set yourself that standard, it actually has a positive ripple effect. That’s not possible otherwise. So while you may think, or while it may feel like you doing something for yourself, are you giving yourself time?
Are you focusing on a goal or a dream that you have, maybe it feels like it’s all about you? It’s actually not. You’re going to see the effects in every aspect of your life. You’re going to show up better. You’re going to feel better. You’re going to be a better mom. You’re going to be a happy mom. I’m going to be a happy wife. You’re going to excel in your career and your business. All it takes is a perspective shift and actually experiencing it to know that, okay, yes, this is important. And this has to be a priority. I have to be a priority, not only for myself, but for everyone and everything else in my life that is dependent on me.
Yeah. I love what you just said. Big, guys. A lot of women, I hear it all the time and I don’t have time. I would feel selfish if I did this. And the reality is they are slowly dying, maybe emotionally, maybe physically.
And I describe it as being in a hamster wheel. So, when I used to just be busy and busy is very different than productive. When I used to just be busy and then running around and doing a hundred things and a hundred miles an hour all this time, I felt like I was in a hamster wheel. So, I’m doing a lot of things and you would think I was being productive and you would think I was making traction, but actually I wasn’t going anywhere. I was stuck in a loop. Because being busy is not enough. You also need that direction and you need to be focusing on the right things and you need to take care of yourself.
So, setting those intentions daily and then identifying those top three priorities. Is that what got you out off of that hamster wheel, off of that busy-ness and into being more productive?
Yes, definitely. Focus is a big one. Because not only do you feel focused and productive, but if you’re working on something that was important to me at that time in my life and I was actually making traction and I saw that, then I also felt purposeful in everything. This is for a reason. And I’m making progress in the areas that matter to me, I’m making a difference. You feel a difference within you. You see the differences, the difference in your life. You see evidence of that in big and small ways.
Definitely. I’d love to know. What do you do for self-care that you make a standard? Not a luxury.
Yes. So, definitely my morning time. Coffee, meditation, journaling every day. I also do like to do my makeup. I like to get glam. I like to look nice like that for me is not, that’s all about a feeling for me. It can seem like it’s very superficial, but I feel a lot better when I’m put together. I feel my best. I feel more confident. And so I show up more confidently. Also there are specific days, like I’ll take a couple days a month, where I’ll ask for childcare. So, I’ll have someone babysit Jadah and just have, even if I don’t go anywhere or do anything like, if I could even just be at home relaxing, you know, maybe I’m not even doing anything, but that is something that I need, then that’s really powerful. And I think if more women just got away from the guilt, that feeling of guilt that doing those things can bring up, and just realize I’m going to come back better. Like when I go and get my son, I know I’m going to be better than I was before. Especially if I was feeling overwhelmed or things were kind of chaotic. I know that if I have that time, I’m going to come back better for him.
That’s really good. And how about your nails? Because your nails are gorgeous. Again, if you’re not watching the video, you want to go see it, show those nails, baby.
I talk about this every chance I get, because I get this a lot, too. So these are my current nails. Beautiful. And I can know we’ve been in quarantine. And so, the nails, I’m in New York and nail salons have been closed and they’re just starting to reopen. But even though I like to have myself put together, I hate going to salons and the maintenance of it and waiting. So I do everything myself.
Oh, that’s so interesting. So that’s not a pleasure for you to go do that and wait and all that. So instead you do it all yourself.
Yes. And literally, like you can find these at the drug store. They’re $8.
Wow, good tip.
Yeah. I just do it all myself. Cause again, I’m maximizing time. Right? Priorities. I know if I spend an hour at the salon on a Saturday, I just think like there was something I would’ve rather done and now I lost that time. So, I just find ways to make things work and put my priorities in the forefront and then there’s always a way to figure out these things.
Yeah. Well, you obviously have it. So, I’d love to know, Stephanie, first of all, let me just say, I have had the honor of being part of your life for the past couple of years virtually. We did get to meet in person one time, which was awesome, but mainly virtually, and I have watched you go from a really powerful woman already to blossoming into this amazing business owner, author and upping your level of empowerment and helping others. So, tremendously just in a couple of years. I’d love to know what your plans are next.
So, I mentioned focus and focus is really a reason, a big reason why I was able to get this journal out. And so now my focus is all about scaling it, getting it out there and getting it into as many hands as possible, changing as many lives as possible. And so just spreading the word that’s what’s next for me. Me Time is my mission. I spread that message.
Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that with us. So, in wrapping up, I just want to ask you, is there anything we haven’t talked about that you want to be sure to share?
I think this is more for the perfectionist women out there, which I try to be and I quickly realized that it’s just not the way is really progress over perfection. So, I would say in order to get the most out of this journal and this journaling practice, I would really encourage you to use it as a daily practice and use it as a ritual for yourself. Don’t look at it as one more thing you have to do. Don’t look at it as something you have to do perfectly every day. There are days where I might miss a day. There are off days, there are days when things just don’t work out as perfectly as you plan. You can make plans, but they’re not always going to go perfectly.
Just have grace with yourself, do the best that you can, know that when you’re ready, your journal is going to be there. You can pick right back up from where you started, but it’s really important for you to be in a high vibe when you do this practice in order to get the most out of it. And just to whatever comes through, make sure you get down, whatever comes through, don’t edit don’t question yourself. Don’t hesitate and just allow the pen and the paper to do the work. And a lot of times you’ll be enlightened by what you discover. And then as far as the intentional part, just focus on baby steps. Even if they’re tiny steps, all add up like compound interest, you know, in the moment it may not seem like much, but every single step counts. And I truly believe that will build genuine sustainable, self-love and self-confidence. And overall happiness are those steady deposits that we make into ourselves every day. And no matter how big or small, and a lot of times small is best because small allows you to make traction and that’s how we build lasting change.
Thank you so much for sharing that. Because that perfection thing is a real issue. And I had noticed, and I’m looking at your book again here that you did not put dates. It’s a calendar, calendar dates are not included on any of the pages and I’m guessing you did that intentionally. You want to talk about that a little bit?
Yes. I didn’t include dates and I also didn’t include lines. So, for the self-reflection part, I just felt like lines were restricting. I felt like this is your time. This is your choice. How much or how little you want to get down, how much you want to express yourself, that’s up to you. There are no rules to this, do what feels best to you. And then, for the dates, if maybe the date wasn’t such a good day, that’s okay, tomorrow’s a new day. Put that date up there and focus on that date and get the most out of that day, you can’t change the past. Can’t change what happened yesterday, but every day is a new opportunity to do your best.
Yeah. And for me, I don’t like dates on things like that, because then if I have to, if I skip a couple of days, then I feel like, Oh, look at that blank page.
It’s a reminder. Yes. To focus on progress. Get away from the perfection. That’s just not realistic. Right?
Well, Stephanie Oquendo, author of Me Time. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us. I really appreciate you being here.
Thank you, Kathy. This is so fun. Thank you so much for having me.
You are welcome.