Finka – Table and Tap

Note to self: Next time you decide to write a post about a restaurant, bring your camera!

First of all, I’d like to begin this post apologizing – which is, I know, a horrible way to start a post about anything – about the mediocre quality of my pictures. Thing is, you see, I’m an idiot. I completely forgot to bring my camera to the restaurant, that I, beforehand, intended to write a post about. But since I’m an apprentice in this business, I think y’all can forgive me this time. Right? No biggie. Bad pictures. Who cares?!

Well, I do. So, promise – no wait – pinky promise! next time I’ll take better pictures.

That being said, let’s get down to business.

logoI’ve lived in Miami for 21 years now, and it is fairly known among the Miamian population that there are some parts of Miami that are, well…boring. I live right in the middle of, you guess it: boring town. Southwest Miami has barely a few things to do for fun. Other than the occasional big chain restaurant or scattered – also corporate – coffee shop, there isn’t really much to do. No theaters, no big cultural movement spot, no art gallery strip, no…fun. We are all a whole bunch of middle-class, suburban lawn mowers, van driving families. (That was too stereotyping. My bad!)

Except me.

And a whole other generation that travels aaaaaallllll the way to Midtown Miami for a little bit of fresh air and good eats. But times are changing folks! Times are changing! I say in the next 5 years, boring town is going to get some action! Maybe I’m being a little too positive, but I like to dream big. Why do I think so? Because Finka Table and Tap, that’s why!

Finka Table and Tap sits right in the middle of boring town, aka: Southwest Miami. The moment you drive by it, you can’t miss it. It’s homey looks, and refined country hipster decorations, are something out of this city. As I sat there on a Sunday afternoon, my best friend said something that struck me: “Right now, this feels like we could be anywhere in the world. Somewhere in Europe, or New York. It’s a mixture of both worlds.”

And she hit the nail in the head.


Finka Table and Tap is a fusion restaurant, that brings good food, beer on tap and a full stocked bar, all in one. The good-looking waiters are also included in the experience, but sorry, you can’t take them home. With a full menu of Cuban-Korean-Peruvian dishes, your palate is sure to have a delightful experience. If you’re a beer lover don’t forget to try their selection of craft beers. Delish.

For an appetizer we ordered the Korean Style Brussel Sprouts, a combination of bacon, Brussel sprouts and fried wonton, in a sauce that transports you to the middle of Asia, even if you’ve never been there. For the main dish I ordered the Spicy Kimchee Fried Rice. Let me tell you: you know that feeling you get when you see the person you love walk right to you? Well, better. When Mr. Fried Rice showed up at my table, I almost died. The mixture of kimchee, vegetables, water chestnuts and scallions, top with a gorgeously looking fried egg was simply, heavenly. Anything fried egg related is heavenly.

I highly suggest you go with an appetite, because the portions are generous. I had to take half of both dishes home, which I eagerly devoured for lunch the next day.

The atmosphere and the decoration are the icing on the cake, adding up to a great experience. Make sure to check out their webpage for more information and of course – *cough, cough* – better pictures.

So if you live in boring town, or even if you don’t and are visiting the area, make sure to check out this mouth-watering and lovely place. Us boring-towners are feeling a wealth of luckiness to have this treasure close by.

*Restaurant logo taken from Finka Tap and Table.

The Ugly Duckling Eats

SKU0759_WebYesterday afternoon as I am driving home from work, my high school best friend and the only soul from that era whom I still keep in contact with, sends me a text message. After we exchanged a couple of greetings, formalities and pleasantries, girlfriend gets right down to business and the reason why she texted me. Her words ran along the lines of how much she looks forward to reading my posts and how she loves my creativity in writing. So far so good. I’m feeling good about myself. Shit, my best friend from high school thinks I can write! I’ve accomplished something. But then she said something that hit me right in the face. She said: “lately I feel like I am reading a novel that is a page turner!”

Hold up.

Did she just say novel? Did my best friend from high school just took 10 minutes from her life to tell me I’ve been writing up a storm of a novel? That’s it Ugly Duckling! You’ve crossed the line. This is not what we came here for, ya know? You gotta stop girlfriend, and you gotta stop now.

As for my bestie, girl: THANK YOU! You gave me a dose of reality in just two lines. Thank you. No, really, I mean it.

The Ugly Duckling was not conceived for drama. Well, maybe some, a healthy dose. But not full-blown-novel-drama?! Nope. Negative ghost rider. Go on and find your way back. You came here to talk about life. And that constitutes far more than just that inevitable part of life we call heartbreak. It’s much more than that.

That’s why today we will start off a new section called The Ugly Duckling Eats. Yup. She eats. And she loves it. In this section we will share mouthwatering recipes, our review of some local and/or international eats as they occur, and also how to balance fitness and healthy eating.

The Ugly Duckling gets down to business, or shall we say eating? And while yes, we may sulk on our broken hearts every now and then, we will stop boring you with our…uhum…novel.  After all, it’s really difficult to cry with a full mouth…of food. *wink*

*Photo credit:


We will never.

408ff47d74fcc970fe38551e2c26543fYou’ll never see my daughter grow up. I’ll never see your son grow up. They will never be a family. And one day, the universe will put them together in the same room, and they won’t know how much their parents loved each other. How much future was in our eyes at one point. They’ll never experience coming home to a happy family, to a pair of tired adults from working all day, but with full hearts of happiness and warmth to give them both.

We will never know what it takes to build a home together, cook together, fix the kids room together. The joy of building their beds and painting the walls to their favorite colors, and decorating the rooms for a girl and a boy who, despite being born in different worlds, would have grown up in one whole, loving family.

I will never know the feel of your kiss at the end of a long day at work, when you would get home and wrap your hands around my waist and whisper in my ear while I prepare dinner: I love you so much. You will never feel the breeze of the night, as we would sit out in the balcony, sharing that so desired glass of wine, while you’d tell me how your day was at work.

I will never hear your lips call me bonita one more time, or feel the weight of your arms crushing my ribs while you sleep, deeply, snoring away. We will never feel the sunshine peeking through the window in a Sunday morning, poking our lazy bodies, tired from a night of love making, laugh inducing silliness and deep long stares.

We will never.

You should have opened your eyes. I was crazy about you. And that, you will never find again.

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Why do you love me?Because you’re a good woman.
My ex husband used to tell me he loved me because I was good. Not because I was pretty or smart, or because I was fun. He loved me because I was good.


I used to ask myself if it was better to be someone’s impossible love or to be someone’s “let-me-settle-with-this-girl” love. The latter seems to lack passion. The unmistakable definition of it is what it is and I take what I can get.

I was good. So I decided to be bad. And bad I’ve been.

Many people have loved me because I was good to them. Because I go out of my way to please them. Because there isn’t an action in this world full of good intentions, that would amount to being the greatest person they’ve ever met. So I was good to them.

I was good to them because I don’t know how to say no. Because I rather deprive myself of something than to fail their expectations of my “good” self.

And in turn, they’ve paid me with bad. I’ve kept them company, so they leave me alone. I’ve supported them, they pay me with neglect. And it has never failed, as that of a bible excerpt, that they will deny me three times before the rooster crows.

Last year a friend sent me a book called: Men love bitches.

I laughed as I read it because I find it ridiculous to fathom the idea that evil can be repaid with kindness. But it does. My upbringing has brought me many a disappointment. Lead a life of servitude they taught me. Find pleasure in serving others. And pleasure I find.

But as hard as it is to realize, I am alone, sitting at the end of the strip of street that runs behind my house, right at the dead end that looks upon a highway. I am sitting here alone, looking at and endless stream of cars traveling God knows where to. I am entirely alone. A life of service for a destiny of loneliness.

We are forever responsible for the monsters we create. And those monsters will never understand how much I needed them. No amount of bad will ever fill my emptiness.

Photo credit:

The Box


Inside my closet, on the first shelf of the door to the left, there’s a black box. It’s a cardboard box with black and brown stripes and a solid black top. I bought it at Ikea, for no particular purpose, but it ended up being your box. When I speak to people about your box I call it the black box, like the ones on the airplanes. It serves the same purpose. It contains memories.

Every time I open my closet door, and that is several times a day, I look at it. It’s there, sitting on the shelf, not saying much. Not saying anything at all. It’s just a box. But to me, it’s always whispering. It wants to be noticed. It sits there looking at me, and saying: Look at me, I’m that big pink elephant in the middle of the room. I’m here!

But I tell myself that it’s just a black box.

Every so often, I take it out, and I climb onto my bed with it. I caress the top, and slowly whisper to it, like taming a wild animal that it’s about to burst open. I tame it. I speak to it, and we have a long silent dialog for a while. And then I open it. And so does my heart.

I make a careful inventory of its contents. It’s a ritual. The box knows it and so do I. We take everything out. It lets me. We take every single item out. Every memory. And every tear. There’s an order to everything inside the box. There’s an order to every emotion that comes with it. First comes the envelope with your graduation picture. It’s a CVS photo envelope with two copies of your cap and gown picture. The one that post office bent, although the envelope clearly said “Do Not Bend”. That one. The one I got to keep. Then comes a small notebook, a diary, where I wrote a note the day you left the office when you got the job in IT. It ends like this: “…and half my life is walking out the door with him.”

Then comes the t-shirt and the bib for the 5K we ran together. I don’t know why I placed it inside the box, but I guess it reminds me of so many times we’ve wanted to do races together, and only this time we did. Then come the sunglasses. The ones you gave me because you thought I would like them. I never told you I hated them. They’re ugly, they look ugly on me. But I wouldn’t tell you, because I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. But now you know, they’re ugly as funk.

The second layer of the contents becomes harder to take out. Is a thick mess of memories, each tangled up with the other, so deeply connected. Here is when I start crying. Here is why I never want to open the black box. There’s another tiny black box, containing the glass picture of yourself you gave me for Christmas last year. It’s so vivid I want to break it every time I see it, because maybe if I do, you will come out of your cage. You’re frozen inside the glass. Breaking it won’t free you. Breaking it only breaks me.

The heels. Those heels have never set foot on the ground. There isn’t a single scratch on their soles, not a spec of dust. But those heels have traveled many miles with us. Many beds. Many…

Your boxers and briefs. The tie. The silver tie and the silk scarf are together. They belong together. There’s no way on earth they can ever be apart. They have a mind of their own, even if I place them neatly next to each other, the next time I open the box they have manage to tangle themselves together. Like we did, at some point.

Then there’s a towel that you left in my car. Or in yours and I took it. Or at my old apartment. I can’t remember. It’s a towel, thick and soft. I keep it because it creates a nice soft mattress for the rest of the items in the box. As if it’d protect them from any damage.

The last three items I keep in a bundle. They also belong together like the tie and the scarf. But on a level so deep that nothing could tear them apart. Nothing. It’s the shirt you wore the night we went to Blue Martini. The night I told you I loved you. The night before the morning when, having realized I hadn’t said that out of being drunk, you told me you loved me. Wrapped inside it are two of the most valuable things I keep in this box. Your dog tags. And a necklace you gave me of dark purple beads and a feather.

Your dog tags say that you are A+. Just like me. Blood of my blood.

After I’ve ripped my soul open, the ritual ends. I put everything back in the box, in the exact same order that it came out. I carefully fold every piece of clothing. Set the shoes in place. Your picture. Everything in a way that it doesn’t get disturbed by anything else. Every item in this box coexists with the others. They purposely belong to each other. In harmony.

Tonight I have done my black box ritual one more time. I have taken careful account of my inventory. I have recalled every memory. Shed every tear. But tonight there’s a new item inside.

I left my heart in the black box. Because my heart doesn’t want to be anywhere else, but where it one day, was very happy.

Photo credit:

Why did The Ugly Duckling start running?


All the way through middle school and high school I despised my physical education class. During endurance runs I used to cheat and hide behind the bleachers until I could make my way back into the running crowd without the teacher noticing. I HATED running. Hate may be an understatement. Going to the gym was never a fun thing to do. It didn’t even exist in my head. It wasn’t until my early thirties, after my daughter was born that I started allowing the thoughts of running and exercising to take some sort of shape in my head.

So I gave it a try. I began running around my neighborhood in short increments. But I still hated it. It was a chore. But I kept trying every now and then, to end up quitting a few weeks after. I couldn’t find the will. It just wasn’t my thing. I lacked the commitment and furthermore, i lacked the inspiration. Years came and went, and I continued my life without entertaining running as a part of it. Until my life started crumbling into pieces.

A lot of people take up running because they enjoy the workout, or because they want a healthy lifestyle, or because they find it rewarding. For me, it was none of those reasons. I needed to run to save my life.

Through all those years I started reconnecting, thanks to the Internet and social networking, with some of my family and friends. I would see that some of them would share their fitness endeavors with pride, and I thought how wonderful it would be to feel so strongly about something in life. I wanted to be them. I envisioned myself living a life so full that I would be excited to tell everyone about it.

And along came Robin.

Robin is my cousin on my mother’s side. She, just like me, grew up on a total lack of physical activity. But one day she ran a race in college and was hooked. Ever since she’s become – as she calls herself – an ambassador of sweat. She’s the inspiration of thousands and my personal hero. She left a career in law to become an ultra marathoner, a sports writer and a fitness coach. And she sure hooked me.

So last year, inspired mainly by other reasons, but with one constant though in mind, I joined an interval workout class called Orange Theory. Talk about a wake up call! Orange Theory left me in shambles the first week. I slammed myself into the wall of reality. I was not fit AT ALL! I was a fitness loser. I couldn’t even keep up. I went to class week after week, to come out of there thinking: will I ever be able to do this without feeling like I’m going to die every time?

At the same time my life had been turned upside down. Let me rephrase that: I had chosen to turn my life upside down. Many nights I sat on the balcony in my new apartment wondering if I would ever make it through alone, as a single mom. I sat there for hours, drinking wine and smoking cigarette after cigarette. I drove myself mad.

But the desire to change it all kept hammering my brain day after day. I needed to break through all my barriers. I needed to do something I had never done before, and certainly it needed to be something that i wasn’t comfortable with doing. I needed to fly.

2015 came along and so did running. I started training slowly, inching my way to a short run here and there. I began walking around a nearby park. Then build myself up to a jog, and then one day, I started running. I signed up to my first race on April 2015. And all hell broke lose. I ran.

That day, heart broken, with the worst history of physical aptitude and an overwhelming desire to finish at all costs, I ran the Corporate Run. A mere 5k to the eyes of experienced runners, but I finished it. The satisfaction I felt when i held the finisher medal in my hand was beyond words. I was out of my mind.

Today, 4 days away from ringing in a new year, I can safely say I love running. I have run 6 races, and countless training hours. I am in no way, shape or form an expert. I still struggle through every run. I’m slow, very slow. I still stop and walk through each and everyone of them. My mantra is “one more minute”. But I run. I finish. I have created a version of myself I never dreamed of. I broke the mold.

Race medals have become my most coveted form of jewelry. Race bibs the most treasured pieces of paper. When I lace up, and put on that number, there’s only one thing in my mind: the next mile. And then, the next mile after that. And one day, when I’m really old, surrounded by my grandchildren I will proudly say: your grandmother was a runner. She learned how to fly.

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Open Letter to AOB

19. “Let’s do this”

18. Okinawa

17. Weston

16. Ice…

15. Jaiden

14. Heels

13. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay

12. Blackened Tilapia

11. Blue drinks

10. 3, 2, 1… Snores

9. I “lobe” you

8. Half a wrap and M&Ms

7. O.T.

6. “Watchuwon?”

5. “Look! (Opens mouth) I did it!”

4. “Buenos días bonita.”

3. “One day soon.”

2. “Mi amor.” “Mi vida.”

1. “5th?” “Yes, please!”

*drops mike*

Run Bitch Run!


I just ran the Mercedes Benz Corporate Run.  I did what?! Yes, I just ran the Fucking-Corporate-Run! It took me 44:57 minutes to finish it, slow as funk, hip-crushing-painful, calves-burning, lungs-on-fire, but I FINISHED IT!

If a year ago you would’ve told me I was going to run the Corporate Run today, I would’ve laughed in your face and called you crazy. I never had physical aptitude for sports, much less for running. Exercise me? You must be out of your mind. Today I stand in awe of what my body just did. And I am floored. It has taken me months of interval workouts, intermittent runs, scarce spinning sessions and lots of self-pep-talk to make it to today. More than training sessions I had moments of self-discovery.

When I run I usually make the same mistake over and over. First I sprint like a motherfucker. Then I walk. Then I realize I should not have sprinted and I pace myself. But while I’m pacing myself my brain takes over. It goes on autopilot and starts hammering about anything and everything that I have ZERO control over. He who breaks your heart, she who you must raise, that to pay the bills, they who’re getting old, they who judge you constantly. And the next thing I know, I’m sprinting again. And then I crash and burn and finish my miles walking because there is no way on earth I’m going to run that last mile.

Demons are real, peeps. They live inside your head. But here’s the secret: it is still YOUR head. Take control and cage the demons. How I do it? By faintly following MY rules. Not theirs.

Pep-talk yourself everyday. This is your business. Make a list of your Standard Operating Procedures. Follow them.

It goes something like this. Break it down:


Get rid of the misconception that you always have to win. We’re not all straight A students. Some of us get Cs, and THAT-IT’S-OK! So what if you didn’t win the race? You had fun didn’t you? That’s what matters. Do it for fun, not for recognition. Your ego is your very own worst enemy. Shut it out. Ignore it. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and you run like yourself, not like your friend (that’s a seasoned race runner), not like your cousin (that just ran a 50 miler), not like Forrest Gump. You run your own run. This is your show, no one else’s. Rock it!


Brains are a dangerous thing to have. Blessed are those who lack the wit. Your brain will tell you everything you cannot do. You cannot run. You cannot succeed. You cannot be happy. You’re not good enough. You will never find love again. You will never be a good mother. And the damn thing will drive you to tears. IGNORE IT. It will get the message eventually and it will follow you. Yes it will. I promise. When your brain tells you to stop running because your legs are giving out on you, challenge it. Tell it: I bet you I can make it to the corner. And when you make it to the corner raise your bet. Always bet on you. You’ll be rich in confidence by the end of the run. Yes you will. I promise.


Music is an instant mood altering mechanism. Choose your running playlist wisely. Last thing you want to do is to be in the middle of a great run and a total downer to pop-up in your headphones. That kills the soul. Spend lots of time seasoning your playlist. Take pride on it. Make it bold, and spicy and, well, yours. Taylor it to your body. I find it empowering to run with Eminem blasting in my ears. There’s something about his angry rhythm that just sets my legs on fire. Find that song that just hits you in the gut. Put it in replay if you have to. I have had the same song in replay for days. FIND-YOUR-STYLE.


Find that spark that fuels your fire. No matter what it is, find it. Search for it relentlessly. And don’t ever stop. Everything can turn into fuel. So you’re heartbroken? FUEL. So you hate your job? FUEL. So you’re so busy you can’t breathe? FUEL. So you look at yourself in the mirror and frown at that image? FUEL. FIND-YOUR-SPARK! Tell me I’m a quitter, I finish. Tell me I’m horrible, I shine. Tell me you don’t have time for me, I will show you what an empty space looks like. Find the cause and the effect will follow.


I have read every article there is on training for beginner runners, how to eat, how to walk, how to comb your hair, and every other ritual there is about the sport. Cut that shit out right now. While it is very important to inform yourself, be selective on the practices you adopt from others. Listen to your body, it knows best. If you don’t feel like drinking that bucket of green gunk and prefer a cold glass of chocolate milk, drink the damn chocolate milk. You’re not violating the running code of conduct. The sprinting police won’t come after you. THIS-IS-ABOUT-YOU, and only you know when to push yourself or nurture yourself.


Recognize what’s weighing you down and let that shit go. LET-IT-GO-NOW! The only things that weigh you down are those you allow to be stepped on by. (Refer to number two.) You are in charge. So what if he wasn’t there and you had the perfect evening planned out in your head? He wasn’t meant to be with you on race day. Let go of the script in your head. Live the real movie. Adapt to change. Rejoice in the fact that your best friend just pushed you through the finish line and she didn’t even want to be there! Find more fuel in the smiles of the people who cheered you the entire time and you have no idea who any of them are. Surround yourself with those who fuel your fire. Rumi said it and if Rumi said it, it’s law:

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.” 

36 Feathers From the Duck

largeToday is my birthday. I’m turning 36. Older or younger, doesn’t really matter anymore, for it is only a matter of perspective. Absolutely relative. So at the age of 36, sitting at the edge of one of the toughest times of my life, here I stamp the 36 things life has taught me, and taught me well.

1. Your birthday is important. No matter what the party-poopers want to make you believe, IT IS NOT just another day. You were born this day for God’s sake! Make it a fucking holiday!

2. The best gifts in life are only measurable in seconds. Time my friends, time is precious.

3. Makeup is good for your soul. Don’t use cheap one. And certainly, don’t use too much.

4. Men are like stilettos. They look great on display, but you really don’t know how painful they can be until you try them on.

5. Being patient pays. But saying what’s on your mind right there and there when you feel like it, it’s priceless. Don’t hold back.

6. Individualism rules. Collectivism is deadly. Be you. Fuck the rest.

7. Hunger is a teacher. Eat healthy, but don’t forget to treat yourself. You’ll never know when you’ll go to bed with an empty stomach.

9. Middle school is cruel. But those are also your foundation years. Those are the years to begin sacrificing so you can see fruits later.

10. Crying is a escape valve. Cry and cry often. Don’t hold it. Find the saddest songs. Let it out. Wail with your lungs. You will find that from one second to the next, you’d stop crying and didn’t even know why.

11. Sadness is a place. Visit it. Learn it well. Make a mental map of it. Draw escape routes. And you will know the difference when happiness comes around.

12. Heartbreak consumes you, destroys you but it’s entirely survivable. No one, I mean this, no one dies of heartbreak.

13. Write things down. Feelings, experiences, names, phone numbers. Write it all. You’d be surprised years later when you read what you wrote, how life changes. You change.

14. Put songs on re-play. Play them so much, you learn to recognize when the singer stops to breathe. Then find another song. Put it on re-play too.

15. Buy yourself flowers. Don’t wait for anyone to show up at your doorstep with a bouquet of your favorite. Be your biggest admirer.

16. It’s ok to be lazy. Don’t do a thing for a day. The world doesn’t stop because you take a break. Overachieving kills people. And makes you miss birthdays.

17. Look forward to something. Anything. Keep hope alive by having goals, expecting something or someone. Live each day as if you were going on vacation tomorrow. Excitement is fuel.

18. LEARN TO SAY NO. People pray on good souls. They abuse. Say no if you don’t want to do it.

19. Pay attention. The world does not revolve about you, but around you. Observe. You’d be surprised the things you’d discover if you just open your eyes.

20. Disappointment is inevitable. People are not in this world to serve you. Keep your standards high, but your expectations low.

21. Friends are family. Pick them wisely. Give yourself to them fully.  They save lives. Shed the ones that don’t make your soul sparkle.

22. Forgive yourself. You are human. It’s ok to make mistakes.

23. Read. Read so much you forget if you saw that on a book or on real life. Read so much, your DNA has an ISBN number.

24. Hoard books too. You may not have time to read them now. But one day it’s all you’d want to do.

25. Fall in love. Often. With different people or the same person. It doesn’t matter. Just love someone.

26. Love is a hormone. After a few years it stops working. It’s up to you to keep it pumping.

27. Your parents are your pillars. Keep your relationship strong. Visit them often. Speak to them everyday. Love them. They are the reason you are here today. Appreciate their struggle to raise you.

28. Believe in something. God, the Universe, Money. Believe. Faith is what keeps you alive.

29. Laugh. Laugh loud, by yourself, with someone. At yourself. Laugh even if you’re crying.

30. Sex is good for you. Have it. And have it often. Don’t be afraid to show who you are in bed. No one has the right answer. It’s a game. Play it well.

31. Technology is your best friend. And your worst enemy. Learn it. Keep up with it.

32. You are important to who you are important to. Simple as that. Those who don’t care, won’t do. It’s a matter of priorities.

33. Falling out of love is scary. Ending a relationship it’s overwhelming. Deal with it one step at a time. There’s no right way to leave.

34. Challenges will come your way. Some will teach you a lesson. Some will bring you to your knees. Face the struggle. “If you’re going thru hell, keep going.”

35. Your child is the reason for your existence. You were chosen. They are your God. Worship them.

36. Eva Luna: You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Your condition has taught me patience beyond my limits. Your innocence floors me. Your love keeps me breathing. No one, NO ONE, holds my heart in their hands like you do. I am for you. I exist for you. And I will live for you. You, my princess, are the only reason I can’t give up on life.

*Photo credit: