Maribel’s story resonates deeply with me. She is a first generation Mexican-American who grew up with one foot in each of two worlds: her Mexican and her birthplace, culture.
Maribel rose way above her ‘status’ of a child of immigrants, and has created a successful productive life. She could have left it at that. It’s a very impressive story. But, Maribel honors us with her wounds. The same circumstance that made her tough and driven also has left a never-ending struggle and fear of not being good enough. I know this rings true for many of us and I thank Maribel for opening herself up to our Kuel Life Community. We are not alone in our struggles. We have each other.
This week’s ‘Share Your Story’ post: Maribel Larios.
KUELLIFE: What are you pursuing now, at this stage of your life, that surprises you or might appear to others as if it comes out of left field?
MARIBEL: Left field? I am trying to learn how to publicly draft my memoir live by using social media as well as connecting my firm to my story and learning how to define my firm as a living thing with values and personality (if that is at all possible).
I have decided I would like to pursue a ridiculous certification called CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) ten years after completing my MBA. I thought I was done with this education thing, but I keep coming back for more. My more exciting project, on a personal level, is doing podcasts of my family’s history and stories. As well as, a personal memoir I am now working on publicly. I created a web page and linked my writings on Tumblr. I have linked the few podcasts to this as well as my story is intertwined with family history as immigrants and as first generation Mexican-American. I want our young Latinos to feel proud of who they are and see that they are amazing beautiful people with a rich and fading heritage.
KUELLIFE: What’s a typical day like for you?
MARIBEL: I’m am lucky enough to work from home. Even before this idea was forced on so many of us this year. I wake up and feed all of the critters here: a black, velvety-furred, gentle cat who follows me to every station, as I feed everyone else. Such as, the fish in the hallway that have lasted for over five years under my watch; the guinea pigs my eight year old ignores outside in their guinea condo; and my home-made attempt at sourdough starter. I am no different than many of our quarantined sisters out there baking their own bread now (trying anyway).
I sit in front of a computer all day long. And, if I did not have to feed others like my child and husband, I would selfishly sit in front of it all night long too. My husband has set boundaries. I have to walk away from the screen no later than 5PM.
I used to drive around, three times a week, to client sites all over California. And, if I was not in front of my screen, I was driving somewhere for more work. I am a workaholic and am a bit ashamed of it now. I realize this is not healthy…..not balanced enough.
In the evenings, I walk with my husband and child; and, sometimes with my mom. She lives a few blocks down the road. I study early in the morning and late at night.
KUELLIFE: With what do you struggle?
“I have a very quiet struggle to prove my worthiness, constantly.”
MARIBEL: I struggle making time for those I love and adore. The eldest of six, I take care of a lot of people. I created and run a Registered Investment Advisory firm since 2008. No matter the accomplishments, I feel as though I have a very quiet struggle to prove my worthiness, constantly. It’s mentally exhausting at times. To prove to clients and prospects that our firm can compete with the big boys. Sometimes, I feel like I digress back to that insecure teenage girl; trying to fit in, scared to death of not being good enough. Which is ridiculous! How much more do I have to do to be enough? Just when I thought I had conquered that mind-worm from the past, I see it reappear in other ways. I just want to take care of people and am afraid to let them down because many times the stakes are so high.
KUELLIFE: How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
MARIBEL: I read other people’s stories and books that remind me of how short life is and how every person provides a wonderful gift with their life. As a middle-aged woman, I know that time is moving at a pace I did not notice in the past. I had my first and only child at 40; during the great recession. I was out of work and without the ability to get work. She, Julia Teresa Larios-Thomas, is my motivation. She was named after my matriarchs: my mother, Teresa and my beautiful grandmother, Julia.
KUELLIFE: What advice would you give fellow women about aging?
“ Aging is our unforgiving teacher and best friend.”
MARIBEL: Aging is our unforgiving teacher and best friend.The physical aspect of aging is the toughest to adjust to. My lifestyle, of the past ten years, has been sedentary. The life behind the screen has caught up to me. I would say, go play and exercise, and don’t take your beautiful body for granted. Feed and use your body; so that your mind can keep up. Also, I had my first child at 40. Don’t let your idea of age stop you from living the life you desire. I knew one day I would be a mother, but it took me a while to get there. I was in no rush. Even as I began to hear the tick tock of the clock in my ears after age 35.
KUELLIFE: What does vulnerability mean to you? What has the ability to make you vulnerable?
“growing up as first generation Mexican-American made me very vulnerable to the need to fit in and to feel good enough”
MARIBEL: Vulnerability is about being completely open. Although I consider myself an introvert, I am an open book. Be careful what you ask me because sometimes my filter is just not well set. On the flip side, I think growing up as first generation Mexican-American made me very vulnerable to the need to fit in and to feel good enough. I grew up in a high-middle class; mostly Anglo community. I was the only Hispanic in grade school up to the third grade, Then Wanda, my Puerto Rican Spanish speaking gal, made an entrance and later became my best friend. I just never fit in. That is the truth. Everyone was very nice; but I just never fit in. The only way I found a way to not feel so vulnerable was by competing and earning the respect of my peers. I was a tomboy and learned I could beat many of the natural leaders at school through sports on the playground, and later education. I was a quiet kid and now an awkward gal. So, when someone takes me under their wing, as some of the women I have gotten to know over the years, my heart almost explodes with love for their acceptance of me.
KUELLIFE: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
- Getting accepted and graduating from my dream school UCLA, because I was an ‘at risk’ student in high school and NEVER saw college as an option growing up. Community College was my life saver.
- Getting cheated on by every single boyfriend I had as a young adult. The heartbreaks and massive disappointments allowed me to let go of the fear of not being good enough. I am finally living at peace; where the fear of infidelity does not do a darn thing to me. Nor do I worry about such nonsense, knowing my self worth for myself.
- Becoming a mother as a mature adult. This has been such a wonderful ride.
KUELLIFE: Who influenced you the most in life and why?
MARIBEL: My father as a strong, quiet and kind leader. He started his landscaping business over 30 years ago. He can’t really write English well nor is he tech savvy. Yet, he is a go getter, and found a way to find work and grow.
My mother, as a woman who loves to learn and is an avid reader. She likes to discuss philosophy, spirituality, and is a loving and wise voice in my ear.
Wonder Woman: Because I love her.
KUELLIFE: What is the best advice you’ve been given from another woman?
MARIBEL: “Honey, don’t get twisted because they whistled at you. Get sad the day they stop.”
This phrase has stuck with me for some strange reason. Not so much because in today’s age it would be interpreted as allowing harassment, but rather to not let harassment belittle me. It speaks to the power of women in an old school way. But bigger than that, it forced me to not be scared of whatever my talent or gift was and to shine regardless of who is looking.
KUELLIFE: What woman inspires you and why?
MARIBEL: Maria Mehranian – CFO for Cordoba Corp, Kimberly King-Burns, and my mother Maria Teresa Larios. Sorry I can’t choose just one. Each one has such incredible talent and is so very beautiful and unique.
Maria for her strength and no-nonsense, tough, persona. If you are lucky enough to get to know her a little bit, she is kind, generous, and sweet.
Kimberly for her incredible life experiences, courage, and knowledge. She is the living definition of cosmopolitan. Beautiful, kind, intelligent, and can talk to any person in the world with ease, and insight. She can move the world with what seems like such ease.
My mother because of her courage and her demeanor. She is truly the definition of a lady. A social butterfly with so many friends, that they have adopted me as their friend too. She was always willing to take on any challenge no matter how scared and terrified she was so as long as it would benefit the family. My mom is truly a hero.
KUELLIFE: Are you grown-up?
MARIBEL: I really try. My daughter and husband remind me that I am not fully grown up. When Julia approaches me with a serious question or complaint, she will warn me that what she is about to tell me is serious and I need to not be me, and take it very seriously. No silliness! That is her request all of the time. That’s how I know God has a sense of humor. I was put in a house with very serious people including my 8 year old. I still like to pretend and day dream. I still play dolls with my daughter and create havoc in Barbie’s life for fun. Thinking still, that I can be almost anything I want to be. Mostly lazy about getting there though.
KUELLIFE: What do you do for self-care?
MARIBEL: I used to meditate and go jogging. Today I think about how great it would be to jog and just work BUT I add piano music while I work and life seems pretty sweet. I’m taking piano lessons and that is a great distraction from the daily grind. I pet my black cat, and I walk with my mother in the evenings when I have a moment.
Sadly, I am not taking very good care of myself to be quite honest. I have gained over 20lbs in the past 5 months and feel a bit tired all of the time. I need help in this area pretty desperately.
KUELLIFE: And last but definitely NOT least: What are the top three things on your bucket list?
- I want to retire my father. He is 71 and still working very hard.
- I want to play the piano well.
- I want to take a vacation some day without feeling guilty.