Beauty Fashion & Survival

Dress: Stella Nolasco; Makeup & Hair: Alfredo Monterola; Raquel Pérez-Puig; Location: LL

A while ago I was interviewed by a very good friend and ex-co-worker and she asked me if life had been good to me.  “Life is life”, I answered, “and I have decided to make it good.”

On a day like today,  I want to give thanks for all my blessings.  Last year, I was at my extended American family’s home celebrating Thanksgiving feeling quite miserable.  It was my first Thanksgiving without my husband who had passed away only five months earlier after battling disease after disease for three consecutive years.  Ten years ago today, we had gotten married and had promised each other to be together “Till death do us part.”

But life is so fascinating and oh so unexpected if you only stop to contemplate all that surrounds you.  If you realize that we find ourselves in a temporary place and that we have the responsibility  to make the best of it.  This Thanksgiving I am happy because I decided to make life a happy place.  I took charge of my life, as I always do.

At this very moment I am surrounded by family, health, was given the opportunity to  combine all my skills to create a community of women who inspire me and I’ve looked up to them for advice.  Women who also might feel lonely either because they are going through an empty nest syndrome, have lost a loved one, have been left by their significant other (and maybe it was his loss)  and have welcomed me into their hearts and  have made me part of their lives.

I am very blessed.

I know life is very unpredictable.  I have been there.  Tomorrow is tomorrow and I will deal with what comes my way then.  I want you to do the same.  But now, today,  I  give thanks to God and to the fact that I have been given this unique and magnificent opportunity to connect with so many people in such a positive manner.

May God bless you all and may you also be aware of all the beauty and blessings that surround you.

 Open your eyes, open them wide and let that lovely light shine in.

This is our opportunity. We only have one life.

Let’s make it a memorable one.



 Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. All rights reserved.

Dealing With Grief

Dealing With Grief, Family & Friends, Healing, Health, Survival


Dealing with Grief

Remember please, if you don’t like to read about these matters just skip this post:

The last time we went to Cleveland Clinic, where my husband passed away, I travelled with a nurse who I had hired because Rafi was already very delicate and he couldn’t stand on his own two feet. It was honestly the worst trip I had done with him on my countless trips abroad. We literally had to carry him and lay him in the back seat of the car to take him to his different appointments. He had a Pet Scan done on the first day. The following day we went to the neurologist. The neurologist was a very kind man who dedicated all the time in the world to him and broke the news to us that Rafi’s cancer had spread to his bones and to many organs. This news was devastating for both of us. He started asking Rafi several questions to see how well he was coordinating his thoughts. He asked him to draw two interlocking pentagons which he tried to do to the best of his abilities and then the doctor asked him to write a sentence. Rafi wrote quite clearly: I love my wife.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. All rights reserved
La última vez que viajé con Rafi a Cleveland Clinic, donde se complicó todo y murió, viajé con una enfermera la cual había contratado porque ya Rafi estaba muy débil y no se podía sostener en sus propias piernas. Fue el peor viaje que hice con él porque literalmente teníamos que cargarlo y acostarlo en el asiento de atrás del auto para llevarlo a sus diferentes citas médicas. El primer día se le hizo un Pet Scan y al día siguiente lo llevé a su primera cita que era con el neurólogo el cual nos dio la noticia de que el cáncer de Rafi había progresado y que literalmente ya estaba cundido. El doctor era sumamente amable y dedicado. Le hizo muchas preguntas a Rafi para ver como andaba neurologicamente hablando. Le pidió copiara dos figuras pentagonales entrelazadas y después le pidió escribiera una oración. Rafi escribió (en inglés): Amo a mi esposa.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.

You’re not here…anymore.

Dealing With Grief


Suffering sucks.   But the desperate feeling of not being able to find a way out makes hurting even worse. That’s why I run away from it. I keep myself very busy so that I have absolutely no time to think and realize that my long time companion is not here and will never be here again. So all of the sudden when suffering strikes, I write. This is my way of coping and if I can be of help to someone who is going through something similar then, fortunately, my hurting serves a purpose.

Yes, I remember him so well. So very utterly handsome and elegant.  With his crisp cotton white shirts and black pants. Always a gentleman.

So I sit here today in front of my computer at our home, which he used to call his “Little Cave”,  that we had remodeled to our liking, left with memories in each and every corner. Exactly ten years ago this month, we got married promising each other eternal love.  Love which was fleeting.

When I’m not physically active, his presence falls upon me. Coco, Caña and Canela also miss him. He was their master.  Now they snuggle with me at night. I hated to have the dogs sleep with us, but he would always convince me to let them in our room. Now I’m the one who brings them in. They give me love and companionship as only dogs can.

No one could come into our apartment without Coco trying to bite them.  Now Coco has become a tremendously gentle dog.  He doesn’t have to protect his master who he sensed was so lacking in health.

We shared unforgettable moments together.  He was my husband, my lover, my friend.  Now I find myself in that hollow status, so lacking in feelings, I’m his “widow”.  This is my new reality and one that I will have to cope with for the rest of my time in this mystery called life.

But yes, I want to believe that we will someday all be part of a new world where we will all meet in solidarity. Until then, my dear Rafi, I write thoughts on my wall which probably only make sense to me. And with that, my dear, I am content.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. All rights reserved.



 Sufrir es feo. Pero la desesperación de no encontrarle salida a tu sufrimiento es peor. Por eso le huyo con todo. Me mantengo sumamente ocupada para no darme cuenta de que mi compañero de años no está y no va a estar nunca más. Porque ese pensamiento de “nunca más” me desespera.  De momento me agarra el dolor y ¿qué hago? Escribo. De esta manera me salgo de mi misma y quizás ayude a alguna que está pasando por lo mismo. Entonces mi sufrimiento agarra algún tipo de sentido.

Sí recuerdo a mi marido hoy. Tan pero tan buenmozo, tan elegante y caballeroso. Con su camisa blanca almidonada y su pantalón largo negro.  Hoy estoy en este, nuestro hogar, al cual él llamaba “La Cuevita” la cual remodelamos juntos a nuestra imagen y semejanza, y la cual él abandonó a destiempo dejándome llena de recuerdos en cada rincón.

Justamente este mes, hace diez años nos casamos y nos juramos amor eterno. Amor eterno que en esta vida fue demasiado fugaz.

Siento mucho su ausencia cuando no estoy activa. Coco, Caña y Canela lo extrañan también. Su amo era él. Y ahora se acurrucan a mi por las noches.

Yo odiaba dormir con los perros. Pero Rafi siempre buscaba la manera de convencerme para que los dejara dormir en nuestra habitación. Ahora los entro yo misma. Son mis tres compañeros y me dan mucho amor, y compañía. Como solo los perros lo pueden hacer.

No había quién entrara en mi casa que Coco no le tirara protegiendo a Rafi. Ahora Coco es un perro dócil que recibe con mucho cariño a mi familia e invitados. Sí, me cuida a mí, pero ya no se siente en la obligación de proteger a su amo, el cual Coco intuía carecía de salud.

Pasé muchas lindas etapas junto a Rafi. Amante, amiga, compañera y esposa. Ahora soy esa palabra tan hueca y carente de sentimientos su “viuda”,  la cual me niego a utilizar.

Esta es mi realidad y no voy a dejar que me tumbe. Lo quiero y lo extraño muchísimo, pero hay que seguir hacia adelante en este misterio que se llama vida.

“Hasta que la muerte nos separe”, así nos juramos. Y quizás, nos unamos algún día. Quiero pensar que está en un mundo mejor al cual llegaremos todos en unión y solidaridad. Hasta entonces, mi querido Rafi, serás sólo esto, una serie de palabras en mi muro que quizás solo a mí me hagan sentido. Y con esto, por ahora, me tiene que bastar.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.

Diagnóstico: Cáncer de Seno ( also English version below)

Healing, Survival

Esto fue escrito en el 2001 a dos años de haber sido diagnosticada con cáncer de seno por un pedido de una revista a que compartiera mi experiencia.

photo 3


Me pidieron escribiera sobre mi experiencia personal con el cáncer. Mientras hacía el borrador recordé las vivencias me tocaron vivir hace ya 2 años.

Sí fue fuerte para mi revivir todos esos momentos de ansiedad que creía olvidados. Los angustiantes exámenes, la pérdida del pelo acompañada del temor al ridículo. Las interminables horas de quimio. El miedo, mas que miedo pavor, que hacía que me despertara a media noche temblando sin control para después levantarme con una sonrisa: “Yes, Mom is doing just fine.”

El tratar de darles apoyo y ánimo a otros que pasaban por lo mismo fue para de esa forma salirme un poco de mi misma y encontrar el sentido de todo lo bueno y lo malo por lo que pasamos en esta vida. Ello, como intercambio divino, fortalecía mi espíritu.

Buscar la lección que yace escondida en todas y cada una de las vivencias que nos toca vivir.

Durante todo este proceso me hice indiferente a la enfermedad, considerando que si uno no se regodea en las calamidades, las calamidades se olvidan de uno.

No permití que me tuvieran lástima. La lástima te paraliza, es un arma que utilizamos para la manipulación. No sabiendo que en el proceso de manipular quedamos atrapados en nuestro propio juego. No crecemos.

Todas nuestras experiencias deben ser utilizadas para un proceso de crecimiento, si no se convierten en una experiencia estéril, en una mueca.

No soy ninguna heroína. Vivo en la lucha diaria por desenmascarar al miedo. Soy una mas de las tantas mujeres que viven con este diagnóstico, y si de cierta manera puedo darle aliento a alguna y dejarle saber que la vida continúa, que no pierdan el poder del asombro. Asombrarse ante la pureza de las nubes, un bello árbol, una sonrisa.

No eres tu enfermedad. Eres un ser humano único, indestructible, eterno. Vive tu eternidad en las cosas pequeñas del día a día. Vive como si día a día estuvieras haciendo poesía.

Poesía será tu vida.

            Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.


English Version:

Diagnosis: Breast Cancer


This was written in 2001, two years after my breast cancer diagnosis, following a request from a magazine asking me to share my experience.


They asked me to write about my personal battle with cancer. While preparing the draft, I remembered all the things I had to go through.

Reliving all the anxiety was very excruciating. The frightening exams. The hair loss, accompanied by fear of embarrassment. The long hours of chemo. The panic that made me wake up in the middle of the night, trembling helplessly, only to wake up with a smile, thinking ‘yes, Mom is doing just fine”.

Helping others going through the same situation helped me get over my own problems and allowed me to find some sense in all the good and bad that makes up our lives. As a consequence, my spirit was strengthened.

I started discovering the priceless lessons embedded in each and every experience we go through.

During the process, I became completely indifferent to the disease. My thought was, ‘If I don’t pay attention to calamities, the calamities will forget about me’.

I did not let anyone feel pity for me. Pity paralyses a person, and it is a weapon we use to manipulate. If we are not careful, it can get us trapped in our own game. We simply stop growing.

All our experiences must be cherished and used for our own good. Otherwise, they become sterile, useless, a mockery.

I am far from being a heroin. I live in a constant, daily battle to fight fear. I am only one of the countless women living with this diagnosis, a normal woman with a desire to help others who have also been diagnosed with this disease and let them know that life goes on, that the sense of wonder must never be lost. That what really matters in life are the simple things: a white cloud, a beautiful tree, the laughter of a child.

You are not your disease, but a unique, indestructible, eternal being. Continue enjoying the simple things in life. By doing so, your life will be filled with the most amazing poetry.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. All rights reserved.




I’ll Play the Violin

Dealing With Grief, Healing


Keep yourself busy. Yep, that’s what I preach. Busy, busy, busy and then you won’t have time to think. By the time you get home, you will be so tired that you won’t remember your sorrows, or your name, for that matter. You’ll take a bath and fall right into bed.

I don’t know why we’re so disturbed by death when it’s the only sure thing we have in life. We don’t know if we’re going to be born, if we are going to succeed, marry, have babies. But die? Yes, that one’s for sure. And yet so many people fear death. I surely don’t.   And let me tell you, I have shaken hands with it before. But yes, we are so devastated when someone we love passes away…and it’s so hard to recover. They leave this space in your heart and sorrow seems to be your true companion. And we deal with it. Or at least we try…

Well, yesterday was one of those very busy days where I filled mine with constant activity, doing what I love best which is to be surrounded by people and meet new ones. I was at a women’s symposium at a mentor’s booth where I would talk to women who scheduled an appointment with me, about innovation. And boy, do I know about innovation. I have reinvented myself about a hundred times in my no expiration date life.

I walked out of the activity at around 5:30pm because I had to go home and change to go to yet another activity at night, carrying my stand up banner (which I thought was unnoticeable) inside this thin long bag in my arm when a friend comes up to me and says hello. I had not seen him in a long time. He asks me what I was doing now. I answer him, (feeling quite silly, by the way), “I have a blog”. “Oh yes,” he tells me. I’ve seen some of your comments in Facebook. “Yes”, I answered. “I make comments on Facebook”. “And what is that thing you’re carrying in that bag, a violin?” Believe me, my dear friends, I stuttered while I answered, “No, it’s not a violin, it’s a stand-up banner” He looked at me in dismay. I asked him what he was doing here at the hotel and he told me he was picking up his wife who was also attending the symposium, to have some drinks. And that’s exactly when it hit me.

Rafi didn’t like to go to my work related activities, but he would always come to meet me and have some drinks, or dinner afterwards.   And then, just then and there, I realized this was going to be my reality from now on. I will always leave these activities alone carrying my case with my stand up banner, and yes maybe I will,   maybe I’ll take some violin lessons.

              Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. All rights reserved.


Mantente bien ocupada. No pienses. Sí, esto es lo que siempre predico. Así cuando llegues a tu casa estarás tan cansada que solo tendrás fuerzas para darte un baño y caer de bruces en la cama.

No entiendo por qué nos asombramos tanto con la muerte si es lo único seguro que tenemos en esta vida. No sabemos si vamos a nacer, casarnos, tener bebés, triunfar. ¿Pero morir? Sí esto es cien por ciento seguro. Y tantos le tienen miedo a la muerte. Yo honestamente no. A pesar de que tuve, en su momento, un encuentro cercano del tercer tipo con ella . Pero sí, nos quedamos tan devastados cuando alguien querido y cercano se muere y es tan difícil la recuperación. Nos deja este vacío en nuestras vidas y en nuestro corazón. Así y todo nos recuperamos. O por lo menos tratamos.

Ayer fue uno de esos días donde llené mi día de actividades. Fui invitada a un simposio a un stand de mentores donde señoras que sacaron cita previa, podían hablar conmigo sobre innovación. Y sabré yo sobre innovación si en mi vida, sin fecha de expiración, me he reinventado mas de cien veces.

Salí del salón como a las 5:30pm para buscar mi auto cargando un maletín estrecho y largo el cual tenía adentro mi “stand up banner”, cuando en eso se me acerca un amigo, al cual no veía hacía tiempo, me saluda y me pregunta que estoy haciendo ahora. Me sentí bastante tonta y le contesté: “Tengo un blog”.   “Ah sí, te he visto haciendo comentarios por Facebook.” “Sí”, le contesté. “Hago comentarios por Facebook”.   “¿Y qué llevas dentro de ese maletín, un violín?”. Aquí me puse un poco gaga. “No, no es un violín, es un “stand-up banner”. Me miró un tanto asombrado. Le pregunté que hacía y me contestó que venía a reunirse con su esposa la cual también estaba en el simposio para tomarse unos tragos. Aquí fue donde me tocó la fibra.

A Rafi no le gustaba acompañarme a  actividades relacionadas a mi trabajo pero siempre se encontraba conmigo después para darse unos tragos y comer. Aquí me encontré cara a cara con el hecho de que esta iba a ser mi realidad de ahora en adelante. Iba a salir de las actividades sola cargando mi “stand up banner”.

Y sí, ¿por qué no? Quizás me ponga a tomar clases de violín.

        Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.

Dealing With Grief

Dealing With Grief, Healing

CANDLEIf you have been reading my posts on my Fan Page in Facebook: Annette Vaillant The Blog, you may already know that my husband passed away on June 27 at Cleveland Clinic in Weston Florida.  He was my love, my friend and my companion.  I will be sharing the healing process with my followers. If you don’t want to read about this, or if you already read them on my Fan Page, don’t worry, I will continue to write posts about beauty and fashion here.  Just skip the ones with the title: Dealing With Grief.  I will start sharing my past posts from Facebook on this blog.

May God bless all of you who are in the process of  healing too.  You are more than welcome to share your experiences right here with me.

Remember, this blog is about Beauty, Fashion and Survival. I am in a survival mode at this time.

Is Annette Vaillant a Model? The Story Behind the Blog


photo 3 copyNo, I am not a model. Nor do I pretend to be one.

 A while ago a lady wrote a message on my fan page explaining to me that there was something she didn’t understand. That it was not clear to her whether I was in USA with my husband having him treated for his condition or whether I was modeling in Puerto Rico. The answer to these questions is: Neither.

 Yes. My husband has a chronic disease. Right now I am actually sitting in a tiny chair in the corner of a hospital’s emergency room waiting for them to move us into a room (this has been my reality for over two years now). Proof that the internet has limitless possibilities and that you can post from anywhere in the world.

 So this is the thing. I do photo shoots once a month which I post every week. I sit most of the time behind my computer with a bad hair day, no makeup and looking quite terrible. I often laugh at myself thinking: “If they could see me now”. Thank God blogs have no Skype.

 I had worked in the magazine business for the past 14 years and had gone through all the different departments. I was Editor in Chief for a very important local magazine company, I was director of sales for two magazines, and my last job, which lasted for the past 4 years, was Commercial Director for Televisa Publishing + Digital which closed it’s doors last December. Fifty people were left without a job, including myself, of course. Here, at Televisa, I managed the fan pages for Cosmopolitan, Vanidades and Buenhogar magazines for almost 3 years. This is where I got my experience and the sensibility needed to handle social media.

 I had worked on my blog for the past 9 months before launching it when I lost my job. I was kind of like a little scared of doing it because I didn’t know what the reaction would be. Why? Because most bloggers are pretty young and thin. I am neither.

 Being a true advocate of women’s rights, I refuse to let anyone put a label on me or tell me what I can or cannot do because of either my sex, age, weight or whatever other limitation they want to impose on me.

 We, women, have no expiration date. We can accomplish anything we set our minds to.

 I am not a model. I have won no recognitions. The only badge I carry is being a breast cancer survivor. The reason why I “pose”, hire professional photographers and makeup artists, is because I want to present to women the most beautiful images I can. I am a perfectionist and want everything to be visually beautiful. The design, the photographs, the outfits.

 The people who I hire to work with me on my blog, are all ex-employees of Televisa who were left without a job.

Even though I am quite opinionated, I will not write about religion, politics or any other issue whatsoever. My blog is about Beauty Fashion and Survival. There are a lot of bad news out there and all of us need some time off. We women need to dream, to hope.

 This blog is totally aspirational. I don’t own most of the outfits I post. It’s been over a year since I last partied, traveled for pleasure, or had dinner at a restaurant with friends, for that matter.

 I want to prove to all the women out there who either feel lonely, lost their jobs, are raising children by themselves, are going through a terrible empty nest syndrome, are caretakers for a loved one etc. that there is always a new beginning and that you are not alone.

 This blog is your time off.

 Here, in this tiny little chair in a corner of an emergency room, I have wings and I can fly.

 Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.

Spanish Version:


(Para las nuevas seguidoras de este blog y del segmento “El Blog de Annette Vaillant” en “Viva la Tarde” por WAPA TV, quisiera leyeran este post, finalmente traducido al español, el cual fue uno de los primeros que escribí. Así, quizás, entiendan mejor de que se trata esta iniciativa. Gracias!)

¿Annette Vaillant es modelo?

No, no soy modelo. Ni pretendo serlo.
Hace un tiempo atrás recibí un mensaje en mi fan-page: Annette Vaillant The Blog, de una mujer con una duda muy peculiar: A ella no le quedaba claro si yo estaba en los Estados Unidos cuidando a mi marido que padecía alguna condición médica o en Puerto Rico modelando. La contestación: ninguna de las dos.
Sí. Mi esposo padece una enfermedad crónica. De hecho, en este momento estoy sentada en una pequeña silla en una esquina de la sala de emergencias de un hospital en Puerto Rico, esperando que nos trasladen a una habitación (mi realidad desde hace dos años, y prueba de que el internet nos da la posibilidad de mantenernos comunicados desde cualquier parte del planeta).
Esto es lo que hago: participo en las sesiones de fotos una vez al mes y las “posteo” cada semana. Sin embargo, la mayor parte del tiempo me la paso en la computadora, con el pelo desaliñado, cero maquillaje y un aspecto fatal. Cuántas veces me he reído de mí misma pensando “¡si me vieran ahora!”.
Gracias a Dios que los blogs no tienen Skype.
Durante 14 años laboré en el mundo de las revistas, y tuve la oportunidad de desempeñarme en todas sus áreas. Fui Editora en Jefe de una casa publicadora muy importante en Puerto Rico, directora de ventas para dos revistas y, por los últimos cuatro años, Directora Comercial para Televisa Publishing + Digital, la cual cerró operaciones el pasado mes de diciembre. Cincuenta personas quedaron sin empleo, incluyéndome a mí. En Televisa además, era la encargada de los “fan pages” de revistas como Cosmopolitan, Vanidades y Buenhogar, y fue allí donde desarrollé la sensibilidad que se requiere para manejar las redes sociales.
Antes de lanzar el blog, trabajé nueve meses puliéndolo, perfeccionándolo. Estaba un poco asustada de lanzarlo porque no sabía cuál sería la reacción del público. ¿Por qué? Porque la mayoría de las blogueras son jóvenes y esbeltas. Y yo no soy ninguna de las dos.
Como verdadera defensora de los derechos de la mujer, rehúso que me pongan un sello o me digan qué o no hacer por razón de mi sexo, edad, peso o cualquier otra “limitación”.
Nosotras, las mujeres, no tenemos fecha de expiración. Y podemos lograr todo aquello que nos propongamos.
No soy modelo. No he ganado premios ni reconocimientos. La única medalla que llevo conmigo es el ser una sobreviviente de cáncer de seno. La razón por la que “poso” para las sesiones de fotos y contrato maquillistas y fotógrafos profesionales es porque deseo regalarles a las mujeres unas imágenes llenas de hermosura. Soy perfeccionista y me gusta que todo a mi alrededor luzca visualmente bello: los diseños, las fotografías, los vestidos.
Los profesionales que trabajan en este blog son todos ex empleados de Televisa que quedaron sin empleo.
Aunque siempre tengo una opinión para todo, no hablaré en este blog de religión, política o cualquier “issue” de ese tipo. Mi blog es acerca de la Belleza, la Moda y la Supervivencia. Hay bastantes malas noticias en este mundo, y creo que necesitamos un descanso. A nosotras nos hace falta soñar.
Este blog es un total sueño: no soy dueña de la mayor parte de los vestidos y hace ya más de un año que no voy a una fiesta o a un viaje de placer.
Quiero mostrarles a todas las mujeres que se encuentren solas, desempleadas, criando hijos por sí solas, sufriendo el síndrome del “nido vacío” de manera terrible o cuidando de un ser querido enfermo, que siempre hay un nuevo comienzo, y que no estás sola.
Este blog será tu tiempo libre.
Aquí, en esta pequeña silla en la esquina de una sala de emergencias, tengo alas… y puedo volar.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.




On Love and Companionship

Family & Friends, Health

 “Till death do us part”

IMG_3087And so it shall be. Caring for a loved one through pain or misery can take a heavy toll on you. For the better. Those motherly feelings arise once again and you realize they were never meant to fade.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados. 

Returning from Cleveland Clinic with my husband from his latest chemo session.

On Survival


There are many types and forms of survival. Breast Cancer was one of mine. I met all my angels while on this path. I learned that you cannot walk alone; you must surrender. It’s an extremely humbling experience.

Copyright © 2015 UVA Investment, Corp. Todos los derechos reservados.