It’s been my home for the past 18 years. Houston, for me, is the place where I feel most comfortable. It is the city that took in a family of immigrants and opened doors for us, far beyond our wildest imaginations. It is the city where I met my wife, started a family, and eventually a business. For all intents and purposes, I guess you could say, it is my compass in the universe. The place I naturally gravitate towards no matter how far away I venture. To understand Houston, however, takes serious dedication. The burgeoning metropolis nestled amid bustling highways, byways and tollways, as well as incorporated and unincorporated annexes from the Gulf Coast to the hill country, is home to some six million residents from all over the world. The city was recently recognized as the most diverse in the United States and is well on its way to surpass Chicago as the third-largest in the country by population.
Austin is weird, and they are proud of it. Our neighbor to the north is home to the massive annual event that is SXSW, and each year, it is the place to be for anyone who is even remotely interested in technology and the wonderous possibilities of the future. I was there this year as an #HOUSxSw Ambassador on behalf of Station Houston and Houston Exponential representing Houston’s strong community of creators and innovators. If you’ve never been to Austin and are not familiar with the phrase “Keep Austin Weird,” the month of March during SXSW might be the perfect time to get familiar with this quirky part of Texas, which also happens to be the state capital. There is never a shortage of things to do in Austin, but during the massive annual event known as South by Southwest (SXSW) you can multiply your options by a couple dozen points of interest.
We don’t want to tell people about our family problems, the drinking, the mental illness, the trauma, the sense of sadness, and the feeling of loneliness we carry around with us all the time. Because as soon as the camera is pointed in our direction we’re smiling and posing ourselves to make sure the digital version of our lives is enviable and worth piquing the curiosity of others. We want to put our best foot forward always, even if the world around us is shattering to pieces. We’ve been trained to air our dirty laundry at home. To not give people a reason to second guess us as human beings, to not challenge the status quo because it could make the difference between getting that next opportunity in our careers or not. “Everything online is out there forever. You can’t take it back.” In doing so, however, we’re also denying ourselves the opportunity to be truly genuine with one another. More importantly, we’re failing to learn from each other and our respective mistakes.
Los caminos de la vida no son como yo pensaba. Como los imaginaba. No son como yo creía. The journey of life is not how I thought it would be. It’s not how I imagined it. It’s not what I thought it would be. This song came on the radio at one point while we were driving along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago before the end of 2017, and it put everything into perspective. The last time I really listened to the lyrics of Los Caminos de la Vida by La Tropa Vallenata I was headed to the cemetery in the funeral procession for my father. I remember thinking then, that life is too short to not do the things we want to do. I wanted to bring my father to the Grand Canyon. He left before I ever could. His passing was one of those things in life that hit me like a ton of bricks. I never imagined his time with us would be cut short, or so soon. And yet it was.
We knew the road to financial independence would not be an easy one, and we expected to hit more than a few bumps on the road. What we didn’t expect was that our lack of knowledge on simple things like how to register our business for tax purposes could make such a huge difference at the end of the year. The self employment tax is no joke, let me tell you. But that’s the thing – we’ve realized – that nobody teaches you about this stuff in our community. At least not in our families or the education system we grew up in. I didn’t take an economics class until high school, and even then what we learned had little to do with everyday wealth-building techniques or practices, much less with building a long term financial legacy. Those are things we have had to learn on our own, not too often the easy way. I guess that’s why they call it the school of hard knocks, right?
I can honestly say I was not in the least bit expecting to win the Tecla Award I was nominated for this year at the annual Hispanicize event in Miami. I wasn’t even expecting a nomination, actually. When the news first broke on my newsfeed in the form of congratulatory posts from my friends and colleagues, I was just excited to even be on the same list as some of the bloggers I have long admired such as Crafty Chica out in Phoenix. The category was Best Blogger Content Creator, and I thought, “Nombre, I am not even that relevant anymore!” Pero when the moment came and the presenters of the category called out the name of the awardee I was the most shocked person in the room. After picking up my jaw from the floor and walking across the stage to the podium, I managed to mumble out a few words.
You can do a lot of things in New Orleans. The one thing that will take some effort on your part is not having a good time in the Big Easy. Especially around Mardi Gras season. As the locals will say, laissez les bons temp rouler. Let the good times roll! We were in the Crescent City just a few weeks ago, right before all the official Mardi Gras festivities began. Although, in truth, sometimes it is hard to tell when Mardi Gras is happening or not in New Orleans. I mean when we were there we went to at least four different parades and observed and heard at least another half dozen taking place around us. I think my favorite was the Mardi Gras parade dedicated entirely to pets. Yeah, as in perros y gatos decked out in Mardi Gras garb and riding floats along one of the main roads of the city with their owners tossing beads to onlookers.
Enchanting. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think back to the three magical days we spent in Sedona – welcoming the new year and officially saying, “Hasta la vista, baby” to 2017. It was everything we expected and more. The beauty of the red mountains staring at us from every direction, the quiet and peaceful sounds of crystal clear water cascading down Oak Creek. The picturesque drive to get into Sedona was full of excitement, revealing one beautiful scene after another as we hugged and curved through majestic mountains to arrive at our final destination. We were literally at the edge of our seats with anticipation to arrive at this peaceful oasis.