It’s a brand new day for Anjelica in our home these days. Her little boy who once used to revel at any opportunity to cuddle next to her and talk about his day – and seemingly his every thought – is now almost a young man. Or as he would have us believe, a man (albeit a very young one at that). These days I’m his confidant in our family unit.
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.