So much has happened since March of 2020.
If you’ve been following me since, you know that my family and I secluded ourselves in our half-renovated, barely furnished cottage, nestled between a vineyard and a flowing glen, near Keuka Lake in the countryside of Finger Lakes, NY.
2020 had us like so many others studying and working from home, with nowhere to go and no idea what the next day would bring.
We were fortunate in that we both had our work, pay, health, and safe haven for ourselves and our children. At some point in reflecting on those worst-case scenarios, and the steps we would take to overcome them, we started realizing that some of the things we were too afraid to even think about, or allow ourselves to imagine, didn’t seem so scary the more we contemplated on them.
We braced for the worse, but the worse never came. My husband’s incredible job remained incredible and has kept him busy, employed, and us, taken care of.
My Brave World Media clients, albeit experiencing budget cuts, never paused our contracts or dropped me. Instead, I got busier, not only an exciting thing but one I am so grateful for as it kept me busy and creative during some of the worst, most stressful days of what has been over a year of a global pandemic.
THEN SOMETHING CHANGED
This whole past year, well into the new year, we had every intention of going back to normal as everything else went back to normal. I don’t remember at what stage in all of this I turned to my husband and asked, “What if we pursued our dreams together now?”
This initial suggestion surfaced all the insecurities and doubts and fears that come with a major life change. As a couple, we have done some incredible things together – taken plenty of chances, but the idea of quitting a job – one that my husband loves and that has been good to our family – seemed, unnerving at first.
But during many long walks and even hours together, we found joy in working with each other and being creative. When he would finish work, he would sit with me and help me through campaign ideas. I would share with him a vision that I might have for a pitch to a client, and he would use his creative talent to bring it to life. It felt – feels, amazing.
I don’t want to gloss over the stressful moments – or that first time we worked on an RFP together and had such a fight that we needed to just walk away from each other for a bit. We are, after all, human, and normal.
Once we said yes to the dream things started moving fast. We sold our beautiful home in NJ. My husband has given notice at his job. My kids have started a new school in Corning, NY. And we have moved to the Finger Lakes full-time. Our vacation home is home and we are both excited, terrified, and thrilled.
For some people with whom we have shared the news, it all sounds like a dream or insanity.
We read often about people quitting their jobs to travel or do something new. And though I have not gotten on a plane since the pandemic started, I am excited to be working full-time with my partner in life and love on our little agency that could.
Entrepreneurship in The Finger Lakes
My long-term contractual clients are in the Finger Lakes. I have been working with them for years now. They are all amazing and I am so grateful for their support and faith in me and my team. I am lucky to work with some pretty great people.
But, in general, creative work is tough because it is so undervalued.
I am putting my faith in our work, our agency, our talent, in the strong support system we have built here, in the reputation I have worked so hard to establish, and in the many opportunities living in the Finger Lakes can bring. There are tons of others who have made the same choice. Chefs, brewers, winemakers, other creatives, and independent professionals. We’ve met a lot of people who have left the hustle and bustle of the big city in pursuit of a better balance, life, lifestyle, and experience here.
A lot of us newcomers believe in the potential this region has for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Like anywhere, you have to work at finding those willing to pay what your work is worth and to build those long-lasting partnerships.
LIFE IN THE FINGER LAKES
Life in the Finger Lakes for a Dominican Puerto Rican from Brooklyn is different from life in Sunset Park, or Santo Domingo, or even Maplewood, NJ, but I truly love it. After more than a decade of visiting, it has never grown old for me. For us.
We are choosing a better quality of life, in a stunning region, where I have met many beautiful humans and made friends.
These past few months – pretty much all summer up to now, have been insane and we haven’t enjoyed it as much as we normally would. Who knew uprooting and changing the course of your life would be so much work?
We hope to spend more time in nature, watching sunrises and sunsets, continuing to connect with our kids on a more personal level, something we have really enjoyed throughout this whole process. I want to hike more and be in the lake more and make more friends and really grow to be a part of this community.
Many people ask me how I am adjusting, as a woman of color specifically in an area which in their mind, lacks diversity. And my response is always the same – I find my community. I regularly make an effort to connect with the diverse communities that live here. It is true that I, more often than not, enter a room and can be the only POC. But that isn’t exclusive to my life here. It is true that coming from a larger city such as NYC, where the sounds and flavors and colors of the world are everywhere, visiting any rural destination in America can seem like a major shift. However, I have also learned that if one walks away from here with the impression that there are no communities of color, that it is simply because they have not really looked. We are everywhere, and in some places, pretty prominently. My hope is that through my work, whether through my agency or personal platforms, I can help highlight those faces, voices, and stories more.
So, dear reader, I salute you from beautiful Finger Lakes, NY, and am excited to share our adventures from this wonderful region, and as we get ready to travel, from the road.
Hope you will stick around for the ride.