This was such a different year for our family that it seemed impossible to send the normal, Happy Holidays card. So I started writing a card, but then realized that I was just incapable of writing something sterile or formal enough to send out as a Christmas greeting. So I’m posting here.
Instead of imposing my journey in the mailbox of my friends and family. I’ll just post here, in my space, any maybe it will help someone have a good year too.
This year Mariano and I have been married for 10 years, which we celebrated with a way-too-short epic trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Dubai. If you haven’t been, Thailand is very easy to get around and friendly. Everyone speaks English and the landscape and temples are captivating.
Before we left for Thailand, Mariano quit his job. Which sounds kind of crazy right? But the decision was planned and socialized with his office for a long time. After a year of average 12 hour days plus a two hour commute, he was totally burnt out, and so he gave three month notice on the decision to leave. We had saved enough for him to take a break, spend more time with our kids, and take his time finding a position closer to home with reasonable hours.
But then only a week after we returned from our anniversary trip, I was laid off in a massive RIF. At first, I felt like a failure. Kaio worked hard to bring me out of it, excited that I would be able to go to his school events again and be home more. The kids were really supportive actually, they even stopped asking for toys and crap.
It was scary but instead of jumping into a job search, we took a look at our savings, and planned how to make funds stretch out long enough to spend the summer in Brazil. We wanted the kids to make lasting memories with family there. Because of the cost to fly all five of us there, I hadn’t been in five years. Tori had never been. We ended up taking Kaio and Nalini out of school two weeks early so we could leave as soon as possible.
Most of Mariano’s family and friends live in a big city named Belem, about 1 degrees south of the equator. The weather averages 99 degrees day and night, rooms are full of mosquitoes, and the streets are full of robbers. For two months, we slept all five of us in one room with three beds, sometimes even on top of each other. So you can imagine that’s a hardship from the A/C bug-free and kushy life our kids are used to living. There was a lot of complaining. But what really mattered in the long run was the time we spent with our wonderful family. Mariano’s parents, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, second cousins, etc. He has a big family. And everyone is so fun and generous, excited and unconditionally loving with the kids. We were able to really slow down and spend quality time visiting with his extended family, as well as travel around the region from jungle to farm to beach and back.
Taking the sabbatical really gave me time to think about the trajectory of my life, our life together, and the future of the kids. We brainstormed a lot about how to maintain the joy that we had solidified and not get sucked back into old negative habits that are completely draining. It felt like we hit the reset button on life and had a chance to start again.
At first I didn’t really know what to do with all that calmness, and actually it felt lost to be so centered with no mission to execute. But then we found cacao beans and started making chocolate, and the mission began to expose itself. I felt drive and purpose. I entered into a bean-to-bar international training course. We came back to the US and started building the business.
Since then I've been dividing my time between caring for the kids, cannabis plants, and making chocolate. Soon I'll be teaching yoga again back at one of the studio's that I used to teach at. Mariano has been taking occasion consulting work. We are pretty broke right now, but over-all happier and in a better place than last year. I have a lot of hope and faith that our chocolate business will be a success. And by success I mean yielding enough revenue that we can pay a nice living wage and support our kiddos.
Wishing you a quiet and peaceful passage of the holidays. Hugs and kisses,
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