In order to completely understand a thought or opinion, it is necessary to understand the perspective from which the idea comes… Many of the ideas that will ink in the following pages come from the unique experiences that I have personally had though varies scenarios and situations in my life. As such, you may not agree with all of my ideas, but I hope that you will be able to understand how / why I feel the way I do, considering my perspective.
So, it seems logical to start with “my story”…
My name is Omar Jesus Bravo. I was born and raised is small farming town in Utah that was situated in between the Rocky Mountains and the Great Salt Lake. I am the youngest of nine children and I grew up working in the migrant farm fields, starting at the age of five, through the age of eighteen. After graduating from high school, I moved to Silicon Valley and attended Santa Clara University, where I received a degree in Computer Engineering. While at SCU, I worked at IBM as a Software Engineering Co-Op for three years and served as the President of a non-traditional, latino-greek fraternity (Nu Alpha Kappa).
After graduation, I accepted a position with Texas Instruments in their Technical Sales Management Training Program and moved to Dallas, TX with my college girlfriend. After completing the program, I accepted a position in St. Petersburg, FL, where I would be serving as the Distribution Business Manager for the Florida region, which basically entailed hosting happy-hours for distributors and taking clients out golfing and fishing. So there I was: 24 years old, an impressive resume, a trophy wife, a great big corporate salary and expense account, a rags to riches story, and absolutely no soul.
It’s true… I had sold my soul for a shot at what the commercials called “the American Dream”. Despite having the most wonderful, loving, parents and family in the whole world, despite having fantastic role models and solid upbringing, I had 100% bought into the lie that money makes you [fill in the blank]. As a child, we didn’t have a ton of money. We shopped at thrift stores and K-mart. Even so, we always had enough. I suppose that because that was the only thing I really ever lacked, that I saw it as the missing piece to my “perfect” life. And so, I sold my soul in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
Looking back at that time in my life is difficult to say the least. I was completely selfish and self absorbed. My priorities were misaligned, and my relationships suffered. So off-track had I driven my life that after only 18 months of living in Florida, my (then) wife left me. At which point I asked the question most of us ask when faced with the consequences of our selfish actions: “Where did it all start to go so wrong?”
And that’s when I came to the shocking realization that it’s not all about me. That I’m not the center of the universe and that the world doesn’t revolve around me. Seems like pretty basic stuff now… But, that is where my journey really took a drastic turn for the better.
After the divorce, I spent the next eighteen months studying: “If it wasn’t all about me, what was it all about?”
I started out by going to both group and individual counseling, a couple of times a week. Then I started attending a weekly Men’s Bible Study. I also started going to a Young Professionals group at my church as well as reading every self-help book that I could get my hands on. I started a consistent exercise routine and attempted to eat better. I bought a motorcycle and learned how to ride. That’s right: A full-blown “quarter-life” crisis. But it didn’t stop there…
At the end of those first eighteen months, I came to the conclusion that even more drastic change was needed. Over those eighteen months of sole searching, I had realigned many of my beliefs about the world, but very few of my actions had actually changed. On the outside, I still looked like the same person. Same job. Same car. Same expense account. The problem was, I felt like everything on the inside was different and that there was this giant mis-match happening in my identity. And then I read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo and everything became clear. It was time for me to leave my corporate post in search of my true destiny.
So, on January 1, 2008, I quit. But I didn’t just quit my job, or my salary, I quit a lifestyle that was completely centered and focused on me. Initially, my plan was to take six months off and “find myself”. Fortunately, that six months turned into twenty-six months! Twenty-six of the greatest months of my life… During that time, I served as a full-time volunteer, I did mission work in India, Malaysia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, and I sailed the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Mexico, Pacific U.S., Canada, and the Inside Passage of Alaska, working as an adjunct Ceramics Instructor with my (now) wife. I traveled the U.S. from coast to coast, spent a month in my parent’s hometown in Central Mexico, and started my own freelance Digital Marketing firm (Bravo DMS). All the while, I was living out of a suitcase, with only two keys on my keyring: One was to a storage unit and the other was to a PO Box. I had minimized my life to clothes on my back and my MacBookPro laptop.
It was through this time that I realized what was truly important to me, and what really didn’t matter at all. No longer did hardwood floors and granite countertops impress me. But, after living in a storage closet, sleeping under a mosquito net, and taking ice cold showers everyday for 6 weeks while teaching english at a Chinese Boarding School in Malaysia, I definitely came to appreciate and thank God anytime I get a hot shower. Additionally, complaining no longer made any sense to me either… Not after living in the ghettos of Costa Rica or the mountains of Guatemala and seeing entire populations of children growing up without male role models and thus, having to grow up and work in the fields as opposed to go to school. But, it wasn’t the extreme poverty that threw me for a loop… It was the smiles on the children’s faces despite their circumstances and lack of running water. It was the way that their mother’s literally praised God for all the blessings that they had been given each day… And that’s when I realized what truly mattered to me…
On January 1, 2010, my wife and I returned to Florida to start the next chapter of our adventure, completely unaware of what was in store for us. We had no place to live, no jobs, and no real prospects. What we did have was complete faith that God Always Provides. And that He did… Within a few weeks, we had rented a small house in a great neighborhood and I had reached the final round interviews for three new careers (Community Organizer, Non-Profit Administrator, Web Dev Instructor). Even though these were great hurdles to over come, our biggest challenge was still ahead of us.