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Lifestyle Changes and Dreams Fulfilled

How a major decision led to a writing success

It was 2015 when I began a journey that led to a life outside the United States. I was working at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Teaching and Mentoring, serving as a manager of my own martial arts business, and fulfilling my responsibilities as the partner to an incredible woman and three amazing children. While I was grateful for the work, resources, and blessings available in my life, I was also exhausted.

I kept pushing myself because I believed my schedule was necessary to take care of myself, make notable accomplishments through my work and provide for my loved ones.

I knew that I needed to make significant changes to my lifestyle, but I was uncertain where to start. My days began at 4:30 AM and often did not end until 10:00 PM after a full day of work, business activities, and time with my family. I kept pushing myself because I believed my schedule was necessary to take care of myself, make notable accomplishments through my work and provide for my loved ones.

Of the books that encouraged me to downsize my home and move from the United States to Mexico, was Arianna Huffington’s book titled Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life. With the audible version of Huffington’s book, I listened to her words about the importance of rest and making time for self-care during the pursuit of entrepreneurial and employment ventures. She talked about her struggles with sleep deprivation, and it resonated with me as an employee, entrepreneur, husband, and father. After discussing my lifestyle with my wife, experiencing a series of events, and finishing the book Thrive, we decided to change.

 In the process of preparing for our trip, we downsized a 3200 square foot home, donated many of our personal belongings to the Epilepsy Foundation, and listed our house for sale.

On October 15, 2016, my wife and our three young children boarded a plane at Chicago’s O’hare airport and moved to beautiful Mazatlán on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. In the process of preparing for our trip, we downsized a 3200 square foot home to ten suitcases, donated many of our personal belongings to the Epilepsy Foundation, and listed our house for sale. We came to Mexico with full intention to pursue our entrepreneurial passions full-time and spend more mindful time with each other.

A significant part of my business derives from my skills as a writer and services offered via the community engagement work I conduct in underserved schools. Before we left the US, I started to write a book to discuss my experiences growing up in Chicago and attending public schools from the 4th grade to graduate school. It was a meaningful project that explored many of the stories I used to discuss race, gender, and masculinity constructs as told to the young people who benefited from my services that included the African Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Despite the value of the book that I knew would help the lives of other teachers, administrators, and students, I was unable to finish the book while I lived in the US due to work and other schedule demands.

 I am not perfect, and I continue to struggle with obsessing over my work, but it is from a space that places boundaries as I reach toward my potential.

After living in Mexico now for nearly two years and disciplining myself to write every day, I transformed my dream from an idea to a tangible product; I completed the book! It was not easy, but I am grateful for every experience that led me to change how I lived to achieve this success. Before uprooting my family and moving to Mexico, I did not know how to make time for my passion of writing, engaging communities through Capoeira, working full-time, and doing what was necessary to get adequate rest. I am not perfect, and I continue to struggle with obsessing over my work, but it is from a space that places boundaries as I reach toward my potential.

With this week’s post, I want to encourage you to be grateful for the life you have and understand that you have enough power to make changes in alignment with your dreams. Complete lifestyle changes are not easy, but the benefit of seeing things come together can outweigh many challenges.

To read the book that took me from the US to Mexico to finish, visit this link.  

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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