Friday, May 31, 2013

Help Support MECA and the Orgullosa Project

Nestled in Houston's Historic Sixth Ward MECA- Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts has been providing "alternative arts activities" to children for over 35 years in the 100 year old Dow School. This organization is so rich in history with the Houston community.

Image courtesy of MECA

MECA's mission is to be "a community-based nonprofit organization committed to the healthy development of under-served youth and adults through arts and cultural programming, academic excellence, support services and community building."

MECA provides after school activities for school age children and they also have a very active summer program.

Some of the classes MECA offers are the following for the summer arts program:

• Ballet Folkl√≥rico
• Guitar
• Visual Arts
• Life Skills
• Percussion
• African Drum and Dance
• Choir
• Mosaic Art
• Photography
• B.E.A.T.S. - Bringing Electronic Arts to Students
• Robotics, Electronics and Music

P&G (Procter & Gamble) has recognized the positive influence that MECA makes to the community by choosing them as one of the organizations that they will support. They have introduced their "Orgullosa Project to offer the community the opportunity to give back." MECA was one of five organizations chosen and now the community can go to the Orgullosa Facebook page to vote for them. The organizations will receive funding from P&G based on the number of votes that they receive from us.

You can follow MECA on Facebook and Twitter to find out more about the services they provide and don't forget to vote!

Disclaimer: I am a compensated endorser for the P&G Orgullosa Project.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Restoring My House in the City

One of my biggest worries now that I am busy with my new business opportunities is that I won't do what I set out to do initially. When I said that I was going to take the summer off I said that I was going to stay home for the summer with the kids, I was going to remodel the house, and that I was going to write. I have done none of these in the 3.5 weeks that I have been off.

The two things that are the most important to me are writing my novel and restoring my house before it continues to devalue. It is SO embarrassing and sad that I have been talking about renovating this house for 10 years and that I still haven't done it! I went back and found this old blog post and I was shocked when I realized that I had the plumbing re-done TWO years ago! Two years! That is how long it has taken me to finally take up this project again.

I have decided that this is just a soft launch for Casares Communications. I am only going to take on a few projects this summer and I will go full time when school starts. I have to also remind myself that it's just me right now, one person, and I shouldn't bite off more than I can chew.

In the meanwhile I have subscribed to House Beautiful. Anybody who knows me knows that this is so not me! However, I do love old houses and old buildings and that is what intrigues me. I love living in the city and I love living in an old house like this one that was built in 1940. Old houses have so much more character!

I've owned this book Restoring a House in the City for the last couple of years and I love some of the decor ideas in this book. And of course there are all my Pinterest boards, like this one for Mexican kitchens or this one for living room ideas. Yeah, I do have some domestic bones in my body after all!

So here we go again! First things first, the roof. Then replace the wood around the outside of the house as well as replacing the small overhang at the front door. After the roof and the wood, I need to fix walls in my house, then paint, and then on to refinishing all my hardwood floors. Then there are the upstairs attic rooms that are in desperate need of a complete overhaul so I can use them. One will be Miranda's room and the other is an office/family space. That is the last of the big projects, along with fixing my narrow staircase to get upstairs. I need to do something about that as well.

So yes it will take time to do all of this but when I am finally finished I will feel like I have accomplished a very big goal and I will.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Because "Life is What Happens..."

Around 26 years ago I was a seventeen year old girl on a flight to Los Angeles with my parents. We had to connect in Dallas to get to LAX and we were flying non-rev on my sister's tickets. They couldn't seat us all together on that leg of the flight so my parents sent me off to sit by myself and I sat next to a young business man on the very last row.

Image borrowed from Jacob Morgan

I don't remember how we struck up a conversation but we talked the entire flight. We talked and we laughed until someone on one of the rows in front of us shushed us, which of course made us giggle even more. He was the perfect flight companion and you're probably wondering if he asked me for my number or if we ever saw one another again. The problem was I was 17 and he was probably around 27 or 30 and no, he was never inappropriate in any way. And yes he was very handsome.

I was telling my sisters and my dad this story last weekend and there was a funny part to the story that I don't remember that often. We talked about me speaking, reading and writing Spanish fluently and also that I was studying it in school. I was taking Spanish IV my senior year. He asked me if I could translate a business brochure for him. It was just a small 8.5 x 11 tri-fold about some optical equipment. I can't remember if he gave it to me then or if he mailed it to me, but the point is that I did. I translated it for him and then had my Spanish teacher proof it for me. In the age before fax machines and email I put it in the mail and sent it back to him. He then mailed me a check for $50 or $100. I can't remember the exact amount.

The funny part of this story is what I was doing at such a young age. I was selling my services while striking up a rapport with this guy. I wish I could remember his name just to send him a note saying hello. All I remember is that he had something to do with the optical business and that he lived in Arlington, TX. I should have known then that I had a future in sales. "Life is what happens," and apparently it's what's been happening since I was 17.

This was just the first step in many other interesting twists and turns that my life would take. From choosing Waltrip High School IB instead of HSPVA for creative writing when I was in 8th grade, to taking 3 more years of Spanish in high school and one year of French. Later switching from wanting to be a journalist to selling advertising when I was a freshman in college, to presenting the new product we were selling called La Voz the year I was an intern at the Chronicle, on to my many many experiences that have led up to who I am now. Every decision I made added more to my experience.

The past two weeks have been extremely interesting and full of serendipity. I never imagined that all I had to do was say that I was open for business and that this many people would reach out to me. I realize it's still early in the game, and not all the calls will turn into business, but it's nice to know that the possibility is there.

I have a feeling that when I'm ready to give Casares Communications my 100% I will be successful. I've spent the last twenty years selling someone else's product and I know that if I can sell them I can sell me, the product I know and trust the most.

For now I'm sticking to my plan to stay free this summer. I'm taking only a few select projects so I can have the time to spend with my kids, my dad and my house. But come August I will be in business full time so watch out!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Leap Fearlessly and Dare Greatly

Remember how it feels when you jump wildly into a cold pool or into a lake? Have you ever done that? When you do it you are leaping fearlessly into the unknown, especially if it's a lake. That is how I feel right now. I feel like I just took a fearless leap with my eyes closed.

From Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly
When I started thinking about leaving my job of sixteen plus years at the Houston Chronicle I couldn't stop. It was like this idea had just overtaken my mind and every time I tried to get it out of there I found myself doing other things instead. I was writing a Pros and Cons list. I was doing a budget. I was checking to see how much money I had in my savings. I was researching insurance. I knew then that I was going to do this.

I love the Houston Chronicle. Don't get me wrong. I learned A LOT during my years there and I still love what they do. I love that they put out a newspaper every day and that the entire city reads it at the same time. There's something magical about being a part of that for sixteen years.

But something else had happened and it wasn't just the Chronicle. It was me too. I was becoming steadily dissatisfied with my job. It was like a bad marriage where it wasn't just one person. It was both of us. I tried changing positions, thinking that maybe I could spice things up. But the truth of the matter was that there was nothing either one of us could do any more.

I applied at a couple of different places over the last few years, thinking that maybe a change of scenery would do me good. A few months ago I applied at a local organization that I really love and admire. I thought that it would be the perfect fit but unfortunately they didn't hire me.

It was after this last job interview that I told myself that I should just leap. I started listening to Brené Brown and her TED talks. I realized that the only way to really be true to myself and to have self-worth was to leap and to leap fearlessly.

I'm actually quoting Kelly Rae Roberts here too because she's the one who has this beautiful print on a frame that says "Leap Fearlessly." I gave it to my best friend when she got divorced and bought her first house a couple of years ago.

So here I am. Today is the first day of my freedom. I was talking to someone about my big step this morning and I realized something. I realized that when I was applying at another organization to get hired away from the Chronicle it was like I was waiting to get saved. And why? Why was I waiting for someone to come and save me when I could save myself?

That's what I've done! I have gone and saved myself and I have big plans this summer. I will be a stay at home mom with the children for the first time in both their lives. I will be available to have my dad come stay with me for a couple of days a week. Most importantly, I'm WRITING and I'm going to do some much much needed remodeling to my house. Finally, I'm launching Casares Communications part time. I say part-time but people are contacting me already about my services. I'm excited about the opportunities that will come my way!

I know it's a lot for the summer but I feel good about my choice. I feel like for the first time in a long time I'm in charge of my future and it's a good feeling. I'm glad that I took this fearless leap and I'm looking forward to this next chapter of my life.