We’ve all had that moment when we realize that our life has plateaued. That moment when you start to notice that no matter what you do, nothing happens. Whether it is career, financial, love or a physical transformation, your life just seems to be at a complete standstill…I am having that moment. My standstill is career related which has lead to being financially stifled and feeling extremely discouraged.
After being unceremoniously fired from a company where I had worked for 10 years, I decided to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do next. The summer of 2011 was the best I’d had since I was a kid. The family was able to take a well deserved trip to Puerto Rico and we were able to really spend quality time with each other. As time wore on, I seriously began to look for a job but I noticed that despite my qualifications, nothing I tried was working and I felt more and more like an undesirable candidate…for EVERYTHING!
I had always told myself that I wouldn’t go back into banking, which was the field I’d been working in for 13 years, but as I applied for positions outside of banking that made as much as $20,000.00 less than what I’d been making, I was getting nowhere. This went on for sometime. I finally buckled down and tried to get back into the field of banking, (I guess that is why they say never say never!) but it didn’t matter that I had given in and was trying to go back to something I said I’d never go back to…they didn’t want me! O.k…now what?
I should tell you that the entire time that I was trying to figure out what my new career should be, I was constantly hearing in my head that I needed to write. I had been saying for over 5 years that that is what I wanted to do but I always managed to have too much going on to concentrate on writing…at least that is what I told myself. Then, of course, I lost my job and had all the time in the world and again I told myself, “I didn’t have enough money to create my website the way I wanted.” So I kept looking for jobs that had nothing to do with the career where I claimed I wanted to work.
Finally, I found a job working in the insurance field. I had to jump through several hoops to show this employer that I was “worthy” of being “conditionally hired” by them and I did everything they wanted me to do. At first I was excited because I was FINALLY going to be working but as I started taking classes to learn how to sell their brand, the realization set in that I wouldn’t be able to give my all to yet another company. I had spent the last 10 years giving everything to a company that had no problem dropping me by the wayside and I no longer had the wherewithal to play the corporate slave game. “Now really…what the hell was I going to do?” This is the question I began to ask myself.
I made my daughter start writing a blog this summer so that she could improve her writing skills. I had told myself that that wouldn’t work for what I wanted to do (again with the procrastination) and I discouraged myself from what I said I wanted to be doing. My best friend, who was one of a few people who knew that I wanted to write, told me how to create my site the way I wanted for free…THANK GOD! No longer able to procrastinate, I set up my site and immediately started writing and something happened…the words just flowed…I was finally doing what I said I’d wanted to do!
It has taken me 5 years to overcome my issues with procrastination and self-doubt. The Lord knew I had to lose my job and be forced into the possibility of being unhappy working for another 10 years in order to make me realize my real calling. I am working to get past feeling stifled in my career and I now know that by following through with the plan I set up in my head 5 years ago, the financial rut I am in will also pass. It feels good to know that I am at a point in my life where I realize I can no longer just go with the flow…I sure wish I’d gotten to that point sooner but at least I finally did!
This year’s summer vacation is a little different for my family than in years past. I haven’t worked since May of last year, so as you can imagine, funds are a little tight. Last year, we took a family trip to Puerto Rico and absolutely fell in love with the Island, the people and the food! Since a vacation was not an option this summer, my kids and I started looking at videos on Youtube about Puerto Rico. It was our way of traveling and remembering the places we’d visited the year before.
As we traveled around Puerto Rico via Youtube, we found some tutorials on how to make several Puerto Rican dishes and the idea came to me to continue our trip around the island by cooking authentic Puerto Rican dishes. It became fun for us to watch the videos, pick which ones we thought looked most authentic and even learn a little spanish all at the same time! We ended up with three go to tutorials on Youtube. Chef Julio Rodriques (who we call Uncle Philip because he looks like my mother’s oldest brother), Nilda’s Kitchen (who can also be found at www.nildaskitchen.net) and Nydia’s Miami Kitchen. These three really teach you how to bring your dishes to life.
We found our favorite’s and started writing down the ingredients we’d need and then embarked on a scavenger hunt to find the items that weren’t necessarily found at our local grocery store, which made the experience a lot of fun. Certain vegetables could only be found at Asian Markets and since there are two near us, we went to both and not only found some of the items that we needed for our Puerto Rican dishes, we began to learn more about the Asian community as well, just by shopping for food.
Next we hit the Mexican market, Mi Pueblo, and as happened in the Asian Markets, we learned more about the Hispanic community just through shopping and we also found some new items to add to our everyday dishes.
After we gathered all the items we needed, the real fun began and we embarked on cooking our way through Puerto Rico. So far we’ve cooked a chicken dish inspired by Puerto Rican ingredients, we’ve made our own Sofrito, which is the basic ingredient used in most Puerto Rican dishes and we’ve made the following dishes: Arroz Amarillo (Yellow Rice), Garbanzo Frito (Fried Chickpeas), Arroz con Gandules (Rice with Pigeon Peas), Empanadas (Patty’s) and from watching one of our favorite tutorials on Youtube, Nydia’s Miami Kitchen, we even learned how to make a Cuban pastry called Pastelito de Guayaba (Guava Pastries)…so good! We’ve even gotten comfortable and have started to substitute brown rice for the white rice to make the dish even healthier.
Taking this “cooking vacation” has done a lot to help maintain the sanity in our house. Since we gotta eat, learning how to cook Puerto Rican style has given us focus, taught us to appreciate other cultures and most of all…we are eating good!