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This is what it looks like a year after leaving a corporate job.

Abigail Diaz


“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”


It’s been exactly a year since I submitted my two weeks notice on the balcony of an Air BnB in Mexico City. Where the week prior, I was in Seattle being told in a conference room with three individuals in upper management to either move to Dallas or essentially lose my job.  The truth was, that I had already planned to leave my job at the end of the year after despising the job I once loved, due to poor management.

So what does it look like to go out on your own and do your own thing? Well, for me it was a glorious bag of emotions and realizations. First, let's get the big question out of the way when it comes to finances. How do you survive when you are a single girl, with no inheritance or a have a partner to support you during this transitional time?  You hustle. Prior to leaving my job, I had started creating various streams of income for myself, which should be the goal for everyone in my opinion. Living off of one salary is great, until you lose your job and then you have nothing. I am a firm believer of the #sidehustle. So before I left my job my apartment was on Air BnB, I was managing social media for three brands, I had co-founded a dinner series called Aces of Taste and had Lush Puff my cotton candy mobile cart. All these streams of revenue helped me essentially stay afloat.

Within that time, I took a six month sabbatical to reassess my life. I took what many people would see as a setback as an opportunity to really go after my dreams. I didn’t have a mortgage, any children and I had my health.  In reality there wasn’t an excuse for me not to go after what I felt was my destiny, the only fear was fear itself.

Pictures from top left going clockwise. 1. After leaving my meeting from Seattle, I took a train up to Vancouver to reflect on the journey ahead. 2. Returning home to Houston. 3. The observation deck from the Newseum. 4. Girls trip to ATL, at Ladybird. 5. Snapped a photo of my mom in Tuscany, Italy during our pasta making class. 6. Attending a protest in support of the DACA efforts in Washington, D.C..

The following six months was a period of time working on my business plan, connecting with people I love, traveling and getting myself mentally prepared for the next chapter ahead.

On my return from Washington, D.C. I started working small gigs and saying yes to any job that would pay.  No job was too small and this was the time to put my ego aside. Once the new year started, I had secured a job with a local coffee company that gave me the “security “ of a regular job with set hours and pay, but as well the flexibility to pursue my goal. In my mind, I consider this the paid internship I never had.

So now I am a year in and although I have had to make major lifestyle changes I am actually doing as well as I was monetarily at my corporate job, but without the stress of being unhappy. It hasn’t been easy at times, but the payoff has been completely worth it.

1. My partner & co-founder of Aces of Taste Ahrif & I, visiting the University of Houston & speaking to the Hilton School of Hospitality about unconventional dinning & start up's. 2. My boyfriend Carlos & I creating his frame wall. 3. Celebrating the Houston Astros Championship with my friend Yari. 4. Coffee Training. 

My piece of advice is this: if you know you have the talent, work ethic and want to do something bigger than yourself- you probably should. Plan it out and be realistic with your circumstances. It’s always amazing to hear people leaving their job and going after their dreams, but there are a lot of moments where you will need the support of the people closest to you and to be ready for the challenge ahead.

Dear 30

Abigail Diaz

Dear Abby,

  Well you have made it to the Big 3-0. Bravo to yourself and all that you have been through. Growing up life was not the easiest, but you always seemed to look at the bright side of things. Here is a quick letter to remind you of what you have accomplished when you find yourself in the low. 

Childhood was daunting as your dad checked out, and your mom was left to raise four kids alone. With limited support, your mom made due. School was never your strong point as you were  struggling with dyslexia but you never gave up; you just learned to work with it. Relying on extra curricular activities to help you find a bright side to school, and to help grow your leadership and communication skills. Graduating high school would be the one time in your life that you felt you didn’t want to grow up.

Your early twenties were a challenge as you were broke, had a good twenty extra pounds on you and could not find a job after graduating college. But, you still could not shake the feeling that this could not be it for your life. A year would go by before finally landing a “real” job. You went from working at a car wash to teaching, all the while, never losing sight of your goals. At times it seems hard to envision your future, since you still don't know what exactly you want to do. But you do know the feeling you want to have when you wake up. Empowered, happy, and curious.  Now you work in a field you love and respect. You don’t see your job as a job, and you wake up everyday loving what you do and the people you meet.

My advice to you Abby, now that you are starting your next chapter: don’t loose the drive. Be even more intentional and direct with your wants and expectations. Remember you only get one life and time does not wait for you. Stay true to yourself, never alter your character, and always remember that everything happens for a reason. Now go be the women you know you can be and stay humble.



PHOTOS: Fredis Benitez

Elephant Princess

Abigail Diaz

Once in a lifetime you get the chance to experience something one could only imagine. Yesterday I was granted the opportunity have that rare moment. With the help of my friends at Audley Travel, I experienced a life-long goal of my to ride an elephant. Although this may sound silly since there are chances to do this back in the States, I wanted to do it in the animal’s natural environment and so I could feel like an “Elephant Princess”.  

Patara Elephant Farm allows visitors to experience this magical moment in a way that others do not. Upon arrival, guests are immediately greeted by one of the handlers.  Unlike many tourist attractions around, the farm will not allow more than twenty guests to be at the farm at one time. There is an orientation discussing what Patara does, ranging from rescuing, conservation, research and health. Afterwards the group is split into half and paired with an elephant for the rest of the experience and the elephant’s owner. My elephant’s name was Bang. During this time all visitors have alone time with their elephant and the owner as it is important to gain the animals trust.

This is where the fun starts. The owner teaches the commands and how to feed the animal. The idea of putting my hand in the mouth of an elephants whose mouth is bigger than my head is a bit terrifying and exciting at the same time. We are then taught about the health of the elephant. I was the lucky one to demonstrate how to inspect the elephant’s health. With the assistance of the owner, I was asked to count the number of droppings Bang had in one of the piles and to pick one of them up. At first I thought it was a joke, but ironically it was not. So I did as I was asked, I picked up Bang’s poop and inspected it. While the owner spoke everyone observed to see that the coloring was right, the smell was not too strong and when broken apart that the dropping was to fall apart easily. Concluding the inspection I was to clutch Bang’s poop and see if any liquid would fall, this act shows that the vital nutrients and water intake is stable. This was an exceptional moment.

After concluding the health discussion, we were to follow the elephants into the local lagoon, where we would get in the water with them and bathe them. This part of the tour really separates Patra from the rest. It’s not everyday you can say, “I bathed an elephant. “

To conclude the tour, everyone hops on the backs of their elephants to return to the base camp. Riding something so large is very surreal. You realize that you will never look at a wild animal the same and you come back appreciating the size of these beasts and the power they hold. I would recommend anyone visiting Chiang Mai to reserve his or her spot at Patra Elephant Farm.