Static Apnea Training for Meditation

Some people consider breathing in and out deeply meditation 🧘🏽‍♀️ I consider holding my breath in and hearing my heart beat slow down meditational.

This is called Static Apnea

Training in the pool 🏊‍♀️ with instructor @jewelsdiver

Breath hold 2 mins and some change.

Goal is to increase in small increments until I can reach 5 mins.

This is therapy for my mind

PADI Freediving Mermaid Certified

After much anticipation I am finally certified as a PADI Freediving Mermaid.

What does this mean? I am part of a small, yet growing number of certified mermaids with one of the largest underwater sports organizations in the world!

I completed this program through Jewels Diver, a free diving mermaid with over 10 years of experience in Cozumel, Mexico.

I got into this sport by being instagram curious of another mermaid. @themermaidelle another Puerto Rican mermaid to be exact. I was like, “good gracious that tail is bodashious”.

Getting into water sports is a reminder of my connection to water and how I’ve underestimated my natural inclination to it for quite some time, suppressing myself from all the amazing Florida Springs that the amazing state I live in has to offer.

After training I also quickly realized that it’s better to underestimate than to overestimate and learned about Loss of Motor Control and Black Out that can occur from lack of oxygen. I will begin to document all that I’ve learned and will continue to as I found this to be a fascinating part of my training.

I’m just as in love with freediving as I am with mermaiding and I’m not in a rush to try scuba at all but I am sure that I will be getting that certification in the future as well to venture deeper and longer into the depths of the oceans, springs, rivers, and just about any gem of precious swimmable healing water that Earth welcomes us to.

This world is so unique and I want to share it with as many people who are interested as it is such a low impact, alternative sport for full body fitness & mental health that makes for great gains.

Cheers to becoming a Freediving Mermaid Post Pandemic.


Applied Mermaid
(Cheryl Pastrana)

Cozumel, Mexico: “La Isla De Sirenas” (The Island of Sirens)

I arrived at Cozumel, the island of sirens. I was fascinated with how smooth my post-covid travel with United Airlines was. Not a huge fan of the plastic snack bags, but love the snacks.

I get a shuttle costing me $6.00 USD to Casa Del Mar. 

As I look out into the city through the window of my shuttle van taking me to my hotel I take in the peaceful scenery with vibrant colors and the ocean line view as if I’m following it’s trail. 

This is the first time I have traveled alone to a resort. #womenwhotravel 

I check in to my hotel and have the rest of the day to prepare for my PADI freediving mermaid course.

Rise and Thrive with Applied Mermaid: Diving Deep into ABA while Navigating RBT > BCaBa > BCBA waters

I’m currently sleeping at 9:30 PM each day to fight off a cold one of my kiddos gave me while giving them ABA therapy at work. They clearly had yellow snot but what kid that age doesn’t have some form of snot coming out of their nose that would be alarming enough to have them sent home?

The parent most likely won’t have the means to take care of them because ABA therapy is a place to drop their child off and receive exceptional, concentrated, one on one care from board certified therapists while they go to work and provide for their families.

Hence why we are considered front line workers, or first line responders. Whichever way you would like to see it, anyone going to their job during a pandemic has been risking their health to put others in front of theirs. Particularly those working with patients. And yes, in ABA our clients are our patients in need of quality care and our demographic is typically more vulnerable to colds and flus because many of these children can’t tell you when they are sick and need to stay at home to get the proper rest they need to recover and not infect therapists and other patients in a clinic.

Now, the cop that gave me a citation for speculation of being at fault in a minor car accident with no injuries is really testing his limit on meeting quota day each first of the month!

With going to sleep earlier comes rising much earlier as well. The vastness of dark space and the little noise you can make around 4:30-6:30 AM feels daunting to be up around.

But I finally decided to suck up the anxiety of the dark vastness interacting with my looming thoughts and did all the miscellaneous things that require little effort that would take away about two hours of my morning during sunrise hours.

Next thing you know the coffee is brewing, the instagram feed is being scrolled through, and it’s 7:00 AM on a Saturday before Easter on an unusually cold morning in Florida on a spring day.

For some reason waking up in darkness seems to make our minds focus on dread, imperfections, and anxiety of unfinished things. Which is why most people are not keen to wake up at this time. But, with that being said the early bird that rises before the sun rays has the advantage of picking at their brain enough to want to focus on the important stuff by the time the light is shining through their windows. Plus, it makes for a spectacular view if you are facing towards the East.

To wake up earlier I recommend setting an alarm and rising an hour earlier than you usually would each day and rewarding yourself with something each morning: a Starbucks coffee, small sweet, etc. Each week implement this change to reflect rising an hour earlier up to your desired wake up time. No particular wake up timer is better than another but studies do show keeping up with a natural nocturnal rhythm of rising with the sun and maintaining 7-9 hours of sleep is best. Some people need more sleep so plan accordingly.

If you would like to take data to keep yourself accountable you can download my 5:45 AM morning streak chart to help you on this challenge.

I hope you can rise and thrive to the occasion of life.


Cheryl Pastrana

Grad Student + RBT.

Writer & Host of Applied Mermaid: Diving Deep into ABA while Navigating RBT > BCaBa > BCBA waters.

Protect Your Brand & Voice: Your Website Keeps your Brand in Control. Your Blog is your Voice.

Whether it’s a shadow ban, conflict of interest, deemed inappropriate by an unknown standard, or simply not being up to par with fixing internal web issues, it seems that social media is not the golden standard in promoting your brand to grow your audience anymore.

Lets begin with this important statement:

Social Media is not a democracy run platform. The same protections you may get from the constitution may not apply normally to your posts, such as freedom of speech.
Essentially your post, product, and entire account can get removed from a platform with little to no reasoning justifiable to your standards or even that of the law.

Think of social media platforms such as instagram, twitter, and even etsy as the maritime law of the web. 

Comment if you fall into any of these categories: 

1. Working hours on quality posts and doing everything by the book just for instagram to block the hashtags you carefully selected and made sure were not banned. – How many hours are content creators losing in this arena? The price is hefty. Want to test this? Hashtag your own name in full (including your middle initial) and see if it pops up on recent posts. If it doesn’t pop up you are most likely shadowbanned.

2. Algorithms changing with little to no transparency, reducing your exposure to likes, comments, and following.

3. Platforms such as etsy suspending your account for being in minimal to no association with a banned account with little to no ability for you to protect your brand from falling victim to their scrutiny. 

3. Platforms such as Twitter deleting your account because you are posting their version of “FAKE NEWS” despite freedom of press and independent thinking.

4. Powerful company platforms such as Amazon wiping out your profits as one of the biggest online retailers in the world working with small business with minimal government regulation on their appeals process if something were to go awry.

This is all pretty scary stuff considering the direction of most businesses spreading brand awareness through web advertising, building online communities, followings, and marketing on social platforms that well, are not so social anymore given the regulations and controls that are simply not regulated or transparent enough for us to have a chance at keeping up. 

On the other hand when you own your domain name and decide who gets to host your channel you are much more in control of what happens to your brand, content, and ultimately run your own voice. 

With this comes great responsibility as what you post becomes live the moment you publish not just to a particular platform, but to the World Wide Web ready to make an impact for better or worse on those who fall upon it. 

Sure, your exposure starts off slow and you may want to learn about SEO and other ways to add traffic to your blog such as adding tags, pictures, videos, and overall optimizing the pages you create. But this channel you build from the ground up not only can be shared to social media channels you are already on, but it stays put with little to no input of anybody else primarily because – You control it.

So, what’s the verdict? If you do not maintain a public web presence with a blog or vlog, (by embedding video footage into posts, photos, and of course the sharpest knife in the book), then you will always be at the mercy of the mysterious algorithm, bots, and moderators whom may not have the same views as you. You risk being taken down or even more frustratingly not have any of your efforts met for the exposure you worked so hard to get because it was out of your control.

ABA Path: Welcome to The path to RBT📊 BCABA📉BCBA📈

With all the chaos that has been bestowed upon us at the very start of the 2021 New Year, I am thankful that 01-11-2021 launches the path to #rbt📊#bcaba📉#bcba📈

as I commence my graduate program in Applied Behavior Analysis at @floridatechonline

Lennon Grey 🐱 is happy about this too because she gets to cuddle alongside me as I complete my modules.

When I was checking out of a store the cashier gave me some kind yet starling words, “it’s crazy out there, be safe okay?”. Never in my life have I felt true uncertainty about my country’s future…

I had to asked myself, “would I move out of the U.S.A. if I see it taking a turn towards the worse? Then, I became even more thankful that the BACB is an international credentialing body.

During this pandemic we have also gotten to see the importance of quality online programs and just how efficiently necessary they have become to educate the next individuals who will utilize their higher learning skills to make an impact in their communities.

More than ever we need to give online programs the respect they deserve as they can oftentimes be even more rigorous as we witness the aptitude of self determination in the students that complete them. (But let’s leave this topic for another article, okay?)

Till then my friends, BE KIND! Coming together to shine our light bright enough to pathe a path of hope is our biggest strength.

To join the ABA Path community please subscribe.

For more micro blogging posts follow me on my instagram @cherylpastrana


Dear Bilingual Therapist, even though you are not valued by the average Employer, I’m here to remind you how AWESOME you really are.

Attention job employers, if you are searching for a bilingual therapist or anyone to work for your company at that, then understand that you are asking for an additional skillset that not everyone has and merits additional compensation…and no, not just an additional dollar per hour.

Ask me to put a price on being able to target an entire new demographic for you to provide services to and profit off of by (my additional skillset) of being able to connect to an entirely new culture and build trust equals priceless…so it’s time to pay up and give the respect that bilingual therapists deserve. But oftentimes what really ends up happening is bilingual therapists are offered the same pay while providing more value to the company and working harder to provide more services to a larger pool of customers. How is it that we have allowed this to happen time and time again?

Is it our fault for not seeing our value and working for belittling companies or are we just trying to put food on the table? I believe it is about time to have a governing body that represents bilingual therapists and other employees being used instead of valued for their fluency to provide services in another language. As a matter of fact, people in the workforce have been known to be bullied or discriminated against just for even using their first or second language! From my own personal experience when I have asked for additional compensation for being bilingual most companies simply told me there isn’t none. Work for us or don’t. That seems to be the motto, when really what they’re saying is, “let exploit your additional skills and not pay you for that special service you bring to the playing field.”

Quite frankly, the only way this may change is if there is some kind of bilingual strike. But we all know that’s probably not going to happen, while very few bilingual therapists are going to deny a good job opportunity. There shouldn’t be an ultimatum to have to do so! Therefore, having a bilingual governing board may help in representing and even getting more bilingual therapists recognized so that we can begin to create a standard pay upgrade for bilingual therapists and employees as a whole.

Learning a new language doesn’t just entail proficiency to be able to reach more customers, it can quite literally make you a more diversified and better person because you are able to recognize and interact with people of different backgrounds. These are the type of leaders that we should strive to have in our companies.

So let’s start paying more attention to what we can offer our bilingual therapists, or us clever bilingual therapist may have to resort to creating a coalition of some sort to gain the respect that we earned and deserve.

ABA Beyond Autism: The Future of Applied Behavior Analysis is Bright!

So, you love the field of ABA therapy and all the data taking techniques that come with it but autism is not the only demographic you want to work with? Maybe you just don’t want to work with children all together or would like to diversify the clients you provide your services for. What are the steps you need to take in order to take your skillset and rebrand yourself as an ABA therapist? Hmmm…well, a big part of this responsibility is going to lie on the overall Applied Behavior Analysis community to advocate for the expansion of different areas of expertise ABA can be applied to and this begins with you.

You don’t have to feel bad about wanting more from your credentials. Working repetitively in any given field can be daunting. It may feel like you are not growing as a person. The best way to begin leveraging your skills to other areas of interest is to sit down and write a list of all the things you are good at or would like to learn more about. Essentially, you want to see what you are truly passionate about and are willing to take the time to see how you can “apply” the principals of ABA into that field.

Areas of ABA that are already expanding due to the advocacy of passionate ABA therapist in different fields are ABA Sports & Fitness, ABA in the fight against Obesity, ABA Life Coaching and Counseling, ABA targeting disruptive and destructive behaviors such as OCD and Addiction, ABA Animal Behavioral Patterns & Communication, ABA Criminology, ABA Consumerism, and ABA Organizational & Planning Skills, along with so many more untapped areas of expertise! The beauty of our profession is that it has been built on sound research and science so it’s not going anywhere.

Ultimately, we are able to analyze the data to allow us to create programs based on factual evidence to produce a change. The data we provide as skilled behaviorist is essentially our voice to provide back to those who can benefit from its conclusion in order to help them produce new behaviors that gain satisfactory results! Does that sound like something that is only useful to autism patients? The reality is that everyone can benefit from the the subfield science that stems from psychology better known as behavior analysis from a well trained clinician.

If you would like to learn more about how ABA is shifting into more areas to help save the world make sure to subscribe to this blog!


What is Structured Play
ABA and Voice (blog)

In therapy you may have come across your supervisor explaining that structured play is required in the plan of care for your patient or client. What this simply means is that the activity is driven by you, the therapist, in which it should lead to a specific learning outcome. Unstructured play means that the child can play as they please without any specific requirements involved in reaching any set goal, if no goal at all. Although all play promotes healthy brain functioning and activity, structured play produces intentional learning results.

For example, think of this…you are playing a video game that requires a controller, (think, super smash brothers). But you have absolutely no idea what any of the buttons do. Therefore, you continue playing by smashing into each and every one of those buttons as you get to see your favorite character swoop and fall, and kick, and fall down the playing scene to its impending death in which you see it hover backup and rejuvenate again leading to minimal consequences. Then, if you head over to Twitch (if you’re into that kind of stuff) and you turn on a super smash brothers tournament game, you can tell that the level of playing is strategic with every single movement of their fingers coding in a move on their controller in order to defeat their opponent.

Another example would be when we use the keyboard to type or text a message to our friends. A guilty pleasure that seems effortless, but requires quite a good amount of neural functioning and coordination. We have to encode a message that is intentional for the decoder to receive it’s intentional meaning. Even though we sometimes generate an unintentional secondary meaning taken out of context. That is why I’m giving you a friendly reminder to always read your messages twice before sending). CLICK (oh no!)…But, our brain isn’t just passing over each of these letters without having programmed ourselves to do this in such a way that it is now effortless to produce the results of a message waiting to be received.

Imagine if we could trick developing young brains to learn through play? Hence the term “structured play”. We do this through structured, fun tasks in which the goal of the therapist is for the learner to like the props or activity at hand enough in order to facilitate learning outcomes. Structured play allows us to teach skills that are crucial for cognitive functioning in which the learner practices mastery of them with the hopes of using essential cognitive processing skills to last a lifetime.


The first time I’ve ever heard about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was from an amazing Speech Language Pathologist I had to opportunity to shadow. She didn’t seem to have the greatest things to share about the profession due to a “feeling” of ABA overstepping scope of practice. Therefore I became incredibly curious what this profession that was “competing” in working with children who have autism on communication goals was all about. She had referred to it much to the likes of “dog training”. Need I say more…

As a prospective SLP grad student at the time, I too, was concerned that the ABA field could limit my ability to work with kids who have autism and even went as far as to share the petition going around not allowing the ABA profession to bar SLP’s from working with this demographic by needing more training to be qualified. An SLP’s academic life is already full of vigorous preparation in which ABA qualification may seem minuscule in regards to getting children to produce speech and language goals. HOWEVER…

“Cheryl, whose side are you on anyways…Isn’t this a blog about ABA?” Yes, but as a dual licensed Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) and aspiring ABA therapist I have to share some light of my experience working in an ABA setting as an SLPA first.

An ABA therapist spends about 20+ hours a week with their patient and should be preparing their behavior goals to prepare them for a speech therapy session to be as productive as possible for communication learning outcomes. Otherwise, that time will essentially go down the drain due to defiance or unresponsiveness to the task at hand.

Now, from my observation working in a behavioral setting as a speech therapist, no matter how skilled of a therapist we are, learning how to control a tantrum from an autism child exhibiting extreme defiance such as biting, kicking, screaming, and overall dangerous behavior is simply not a class taught in the average communication and sciences disorders curriculum. An SLP’s curriculum is heavily focused on the anatomy, physiology, and technique of producing speech and language outcomes through early intervention and pathologies, often life saving in regards to swallowing or receiving a tracheostomy procedure in a hospital setting whereas the behavioral side in typically left to be learned independently.

But who’s to judge at which profession needs additional training? Should an ABA therapist even be aloud to aim at communication goals when there is an entire profession ready to provide this or is it quite necessary given the minimal amount of time an autism or developmental disability patient may spend with an SLP on these goals? It appears that we will see these two professionals needing to become allies quite quickly and begin to see each other as a supporting part of each other’s plan of care (POC) team.

The best gift I was given at my first contracted speech therapy job was the ability to have a full ABA staff to observe & learn techniques from to stabilize behavior and increase communication learning outcomes. Now, I am able to stop a tantrum from getting out of control and optimize the therapy in my session to produce true results! That’s true collaboration and the journey has just begun.

If you liked this post subscribe to my blog on the path to RBT > BCaBA > BCBA.

Thanks for reading!