Monday, March 24, 2014

Letting Go of a Legacy

The ladies in my life have always worked. My grandmother first came to the United States from Tampico, Mexico with five children in tow and loaded with an arsenal of work ethic and determination. She and my grandfather worked tirelessly to make a name for themselves. Today they are the proud owners of the first mexican restaurant to stake claim in the Houma/Thibodaux bayou region. As a small girl, I remember watching my mom get dressed for work and waiting for her to get home in the evenings. She worked hard to provide a happy home for my brother and me, and supplied us with an example of what it was to truly earn a living. Growing up, I would imagine myself getting all dressed up in Banana Republic and J.Crew suiting separates with a coffee in hand ready to take on the day. I knew that I wanted to work like my mom and grandmother had. I knew that I wanted to be a woman in the business world. Still today, I have visions of the things I want to do with my career. I must continue to remind myself that all good things come in due time.

I didn't always know what I wanted to do. And having a family business right at your finger tips is exciting and daunting all at the same time. I can remember in high school, people would tell me how great it must be to know that I had a job just waiting for me. My reply : "Oh no way, I never want to work in the restaurants. Work and family don't mix." Instead, I wanted to be an architect, a civil engineer, interior designer, anything.. whatever would keep me away from the restaurants. I vowed that no matter what I would never let anything come between my family and me, and I was just certain that at some point working with them would lead to conflict, disagreements, ill feelings. That was something I did not want to ever experience.

You know, you hear of families being torn apart because they had disagreements over rights or money. Part of me was always scared that I would be a testament to those stories at some point, and that's just not something I could have on my conscience. But then another part of me thought that I needed more of a challenge. That working for the family was too easy. (You should know,  I'm that girl that takes the longest distance from point A to point B because it usually turns out to be the most rewarding path.)

Well, I broke that vow to myself to never work in the restaurants because after submitting my resume and applications to countless OTHER restaurants, as well as retail stores, coffee shops, etc., I was left with very little options and a car note that wasn't going to pay itself. I succumbed to the pressures, I started working at La Casa Del Sol. I was a hostess, cashier, busser, expeditor, server, and eventually worked my way up to management. It worked out quite well, actually. I was able to work as a manager and use my first few months as a management internship that counted as college credits. As always, I worked with an open heart and gave it all I had. By the time I was in my senior year of business school, I was applying everything that I was learning to my job. And here is where my fear became realized. I was doing a good job, I was organizing promotional events on my own, I was reducing our liquor costs, I was doing everything I thought needed to be done. I've learned, however, that sometimes when you do well at your work, you sometimes are faced with envy or disdain. And from your own family, envy and disdain can be hurtful. All I needed was a small taste of it to know that I wasn't up for the repercussions that could follow. At least, not then.

And so, just like that, another opportunity presented itself and I took it. In the two years that followed, I worked on getting my MBA and worked my way up the ladder at my new job. After only a year I was asked to take the position of Training and Warranty Development Administrator for a heavy truck dealership with five different locations throughout Louisiana. During that time, I made every effort to hone in and improve upon the skills I was acquiring in grad school. I was applying everything I was learning in my management, finance, and strategy classes to my daily tasks, and I was making a good impression on those around me. The sense of accomplishment was rewarding, but my lack of passion for the industry was palpable. I wanted to be in the industry that I knew so well. I yearned for a place in the restaurant industry. It's what I love, truly. And it's what I'm good at.

Today, I'm back at La Casa Del Sol! After a little soul searching and planning for my future, I decided to take the leap and ask for a job. I was welcomed back with open arms and the joy that it brought to my heart catapulted me into my work. It's funny how the universe has a way of laying out life it the most wonderful way. In the past  I was afraid to approach questionable issues head on when it had to do with my family. Mostly because I never want to make people upset with me. Today, I realize that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and hope for the best AS LONG AS your intentions are pure and honest.

During that soul searching, I made it a point to consider my future, my cousins' futures, my brothers' and sister's futures, without the restaurants. Well, really, we'd get along just fine. But I thought back to my grandparents and everything they sacrificed to get where they are and it made me angry to think that I could just let it all go. My siblings, cousins and I, we're the next generation. We're so capable, and it would be a shame not to work together to keep this legacy going. That's what brought me back. The hope for a sustainable future and the carrying on of a legacy, that's what brought me back. Hope that, despite the envy and disdain, despite the confrontations, my family and I can get along to move forward and lead the industry in our area and to be an example of what a family can accomplish.

I see so many great things on the horizon. Those visions I have about my career seem to be unfolding quite beautifully, and all is right in the world.

from my heart to yours,



P.S. Currently, La Casa Del Sol is working on developing a new drink menu. My cousin, Sophia, and her team have been working diligently on this project and cannot wait to get it rolling and out to our customers. If you're in the area, be on the lookout! If you don't live around here but plan on making a trip to the area, please join us!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"One day she stopped letting fear hold her back and chose to live bravely. From then on she flew."

When your life ends up just where you imagined it always would, you begin to question which decision it was that got you there. Because obviously, you want to make sure you keep making decisions like that one ALL THE TIME. Then, it hits you, it's not about one decision, it's not about just one choice, it's about the series of choices you've made your whole life. Turns out, amongst a plethora of very unwise decisions, I must've made a few goods ones, and the combinations worked out just great.

my jesse and me

This year, I'll be 27, living with a wonderful man in my childhood home, mother of two silly pups, and a bride-to-be. I'm so happy it scares me, but then I let go of that fear and realize that life is too short to worry about what could happen. Instead, I choose to live fully and enjoy every glass of wine, every episode of Breaking Bad, every family get together, every new pair of shoes, every cheese plate, taco, and bowl of gumbo. I'll enjoy quiet nights at home, busy days at work, stressful days of wedding planning. I will enjoy and cherish all of it, and I'll share most of this with you.

Ellie : ]