2023 was a difficult personal and professional year for me. We always talk in these forums about the good and share our wins but few share the reality of life and our failures. After losing my job, a very tumultuous and difficult divorce stemming from an emotionally abusive relationship, having to close the Academy brick and mortar, and having to be in a sharing situation for every event that I have been doing, let's say the year was challenging and limiting the growth of my business.
All that turmoil led to an inevitable financial debacle owning money left and right and having barely the minimum to cover anything in my life. Telling people that you simply can't pay and not believing you is one of the most humiliating things of my life. I was not used to that. This pressure, along with feelings of professional failure, also led to 3 deep bouts of depression from which I am now barely recovering and coping. Throughout my adult life, I always had financial stability, a professional plan and success, and a set life plan. I had a horrendous personal life and a failed marriage for the last 15 years but the fact that I was professionally successful seemed to outweigh that failing.
I had to start from ZERO and ground up. I had to learn to swallow my pride, ask for help, and reach out. During this period I was allowed to seek professional help, to find my personal and professional path, and to embrace the process. I decided to try different jobs, applied for positions, and interviewed for dream positions, just to learn that I was a far cry from where I was. I have left so many down along the way from financial obbligations to professional obligations and I am truly sorry about that. I am trying my best to grow and go back to where I was and who I used to be. One day at a time.
I also tried going back to corporate life for the safe paycheck but after several interviews and offers, it just became clear that my path was there all along: to be an entrepreneur and to once again, do what we do as entrepreneurs... believing in ourselves. My divorce had taken so much of that away from me that I just didn't have the confidence to do so.
That corporate life would not be my call and that I needed to concentrate on what I love and make it exciting but also profitable once again the first step to achieve that was to organize my personal affairs, move forward, and open a brick-and-mortar once again. I missed having a team, having a permanent place to teach and host classes, and welcoming guests and consumers.
If I was able to run a 100-seat restaurant as an operator and with a loyal crew I knew I could do this once again with the current support system I have now around me. My kids (well, I always called my employees my kids as I care deeply for each one of them) were the ones keeping me afloat during the last months at Luisa's Cellar. I perhaps want to think their loyalty came from a place of good leadership and I hope to do this once again.
It took a mentor to make me see that I was concentrating my happiness just on my professional life and success. Not looking at everything else around me. I had grown accustomed to equal financial stability and professional success with happiness. This time around, I had a strong network of people supporting me, caring for me, and most importantly: loving me. I am thankful to all my mentors and everyone who helped me keep my head above water during that torrid year,
I will also be forever grateful to each one of these places that opened their doors to me and my classes so we could keep on teaching.
Then you must ask… why I blur out all my personal life and challenges to you. Because I have learned that someone else might read this to understand that they are not alone. That we all struggle. Behind happy faces in pictures there is a lot of anguish and worry at times. I hope this will help someone else to understand that we all are in this together.
I enter the year barely recovering from a bout of debilitating and crippling depression and anxiety of so many unknowns, yet ready to face whatever it might be and with better tools than I had before and understanding that I can't do it all alone. I am learning to love myself again, to trust myself again, to trust the process, to trust people, and to welcome and embrace love. I am learning that I am not perfect. That failure will come and I need to open myself to ask for help when needed. That I am loved and wanted and that people perhaps love my beyond my professional capacities.
I pray that 2024 brings us all better outcomes or at least has clearer paths to follow. I will work for my path as well. My goals are simple: survive and not be in debt while concentrating on this new life ahead of me.
If entrepreneurship will be easy, everyone will do it. The truth is that only a few tries and even a few are successful at it. I did it once and I know I can do it again. I am rooting for all of you entrepreneurs of this world and I am at your service.
Cheers to all of you!