Looking out the window of my family room and seeing our vecinos, neighbors, I began to think about how much I will miss Mexico. I moved to Mazatlán, Sinaloa Mexico from the United States with my wife and three children on October 15, 2016. In these almost two years, it has been quite the journey.
From a 3200-square foot home, we downsized to ten suitcases and boarded a plane down the jet stream aligned with our callings, desires, and dreams. To pursue full-time income from entrepreneurial callings and to have more mindful time with each other, my wife and I decided the move was a necessary sacrifice. We put our home on the market, sold our cars, and donated other items to charities, in the spirit of faith and tenacity to make visions tangible.
We anticipated becoming fluent in Spanish, seeing progress in our businesses, making new friends and spending an ample amount of time with each other.
It was an exciting adventure for our family of five when we arrived at O’hare’s International Airport in October of 2016. We anticipated becoming fluent in Spanish, seeing progress in our businesses, making new friends and spending an ample amount of time with each other. In these twenty-two months, we have accomplished some of these goals and endured many challenges.
From putting the home on the market to spending nearly all our savings, this time abroad has stretched my family in many directions. Planning for everything was impossible. In the first year of living a life by design in Mexico, my wife and I continued to make mortgage payments on the home we left behind in the United States. For multiple reasons, we could not find a qualified buyer, and so we paid the mortgage until we no longer could afford to and maintain our lifestyles in Mexico.
My inability to fulfill my responsibilities as a significant financial contributor to my household interfered with the perception I held of myself. Despite working on some days for 19 hours to build a successful consulting and coaching business, I was unable to maintain a stable list of clients. Although I wrote every day, securing opportunities for paid writing was tough. These challenges and others forced me to rethink my self-worth on multiple occasions.
I grew up in a home where my father was an excellent provider. We were not wealthy, but my parents provided my five siblings and me with the essentials and some of our material desires. On multiple occasions throughout these almost two years abroad, I believed I was failing in my identities as a father, husband, partner, and entrepreneur, because of my limited monetary resources.
My setbacks in Mexico caused me to mature in the physical, spiritual, and mental areas of my life. I committed myself to a rigorous six-days per week training schedule consisting of capoeira training, running outdoors, and lifting weights to strengthen my body. Every morning began with prayer and meditation, and I fasted on Sundays to mature my spiritual relationship with The Creator. I disciplined myself to write every single day for one hour at minimum. Living abroad changed me into the man I am today.
Before moving to Mexico, I exercised, prayed, and made time to write, but I was not consistent.
I enjoyed exercise four to five days a week when I lived in the United States, but I often rested entirely on the weekends and did not watch my diet. My current schedule includes six days per week and my hardest day is Saturday's five-mile, calisthenics, and Capoeira training session. In Chicago, my days did not begin with prayer and meditation. I took life for granted and often procrastinated meeting my writing deadlines. Growing through triumphs and challenges while living in Mexico is a priceless gift, I will take with me.
Due to the some of the circumstances outlined in this piece, my family and I were on the verge of moving back to the United States in August to live with my parents. Despite pushing my business products and services, I had multiple months with inadequate resources to meet my household’s financial commitments. I began applying for academic jobs last November, as an alternative option to continue making a positive impact in the lives of others and as a consistent income source to meet the needs of my family.
In February of this year, I had an interview for a position in the Caribbean islands that seemed to align with my interests, talents, and skills. It was for a job as an Assistant Professor of Education in the college of education at a university that specialized in providing opportunities for students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the medical field. The interview went well with the search committee, and they were interested in hiring me to join the faculty… until a hiring freeze eliminated the opening.
For four months, I continued to work through my entrepreneurial activities and applying for other jobs. Despite, my consistency and hard work, I achieved a minimal amount of return on my time investments, and my family's savings dwindled under the sole income of my wife's coaching business. Two weeks ago, I called my father to ask for prayer and to prepare him for our imminent move into his home. My family and I did not want to move to Los Angeles, but we were out of choices.
After hanging up the phone with my father, I left and went to write at a local café. Four hours later, I received an email from the university I applied to in February with a job offer! As indicated in our Facebook live announcement video, these opportunities to move from the United States to Mexico, and now the Caribbean islands are the result of disciplined practices and ultimately the power of prayer.
This week, I want to encourage you to seek a relationship with our Creator. Whether, it involves moving abroad, prayer, meditation, exercising outdoors, or going to church you must make developing a healthy spiritual relationship to guide your personal and professional life a priority.
If you don’t know where to start, getting enrolled in my course that explores gratitude and other positive practices is a start!
*A previous version of this piece appeared in my column at The Good Men Project.