Why I Became A Relationship Advisor

Michele Baird is a relationship advisor and blogs at Lovenet-Jp.com and she also provides the special offers on match.com and other top dating sites. Here is the little bit about her journey:

An advisor is a person who gives advice on a variety of topics. I realized that I was actually already a relationship advisor when I finished addressing a group of young women on relationships.

Here’s how I got started. After several failed relationships I realized that I knew more than I realized and could literally design my next relationship before I ever met the person. I took some time and listed out what I wanted in a relationship and focused on my needs for a time.

As I was in the process of doing this, I was approached by a dear friend who had just gotten out of a lousy relationship. She told me that she couldn’t figure out what she kept doing wrong.

After a long discussion, I knew I’d found my calling. I became certified so that I could allow others to use their insurance in my counseling. I had plenty of personal experience to lean on as well as the classes I had taken in college.

Today, I’m called to address groups of young women who are struggling as single moms. I also address young teens on how to learn to date properly without giving into sex and other peer pressures.

I love my job. I love helping others. As a relationship advisor, I can help other women who have made mistakes learn to find what they truly want in a relationship. Once they understand that they’ve been falling for the wrong type they can begin to fall for the right type.

I love that my job is so meaningful. My passion for helping others has evolved, and I feel that I am contributing more to society as a relationship advisor than I ever contributed as just another person working in an office.

My work is enjoyable, and I can help other women avoid dangerous situations. I can help them to focus on changing themselves and not trying to change others. I can teach them that often the answer to their deepest questions is deep within themselves.

Once they begin to recognize what they’ve been doing wrong, they can focus on how to change it and begin to enjoy their relationships. A relationship takes work, and if both parties aren’t working on it, then they aren’t able to move forward.

As a relationship advisor, I am able to help others seek out what really works for them.

IN MY WORDS: I’M CARLA LOPEZ, 23, AND I DREAM OF BECOMING A MENTAL HEALTH SOCIAL WORKER

By the time all of my peers were enrolling in driver education classes and mastering the rules of the road, I had already mastered the rules of how to go unnoticed. No jaywalking. No riding my bicycle without a helmet. And absolutely no mentioning my status as an undocumented immigrant to anyone. I was to do nothing that would set me apart from the rest.

I was 2 years old when my parents, wanting nothing more than to improve their lives—and mine, brought me to America from Mexico. We soon headed to the San Francisco Bay Area, where my parents held a number of jobs—construction, janitorial, washing dishes in restaurants—saving enough money to move away from the couch we shared in a friend’s home into our own one-bedroom apartment.

School became a priority, with me working hard not only to earn high grades, but to eventually make it into the University of California, Davis with money that my parents had saved for my education. But I constantly walked around in fear, wondering whether the immigration stances of my teachers and peers would affect their view of me. Adding to this confusion were the stories being told by my peers and the media. I grew up in a world where immigration raids were taking place at work, school, and even in the “safety” of homes. For me, the time period between 5 and 6 a.m.—when immigration raids are usually conducted in homes—would be filled with much panic and anguish, as I lay awake in my bed—afraid that either my parents or I would be next.

I saw discriminatory laws, such as California’s Proposition 187, Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, Alabama’s House Bill 56 and Secure Communities, go into effect, instilling anxiety in all immigrants, whether documented or not. I also saw legalized attacks on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community in the form of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And while I acknowledge that our communities have had their share of triumphs, the blows have made growing up in this world as an undocumented queer woman of color a constant struggle.

Since I was told at the age of 16 that I was an undocumented immigrant, an alarming, constant fear has lived deep inside of me. However, on December 15, 2012, everything I had felt, everything I had known was turned upside down—my life had changed. Late that afternoon, I received a text message from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) that would, for the first time in years, have me feeling at ease. As soon as I realized the extent of what the text message meant, I immediately rushed to my computer to check my case status. As soon as I saw the word “approved,” I handed the computer over to my partner, who immediately had tears of joy in her eyes. It was the response to my application for President Obama’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows young people who were brought to the country as children to apply for relief from deportation and for two-year renewable work permits.

I checked my DACA approval status again and again. With shaky hands, I grabbed my phone to call my parents. Their reactions were just as I had expected. While my father congratulated me and sighed in relief, my mother started to cry. She told me that my news was the best Christmas and birthday present she had ever received.

Throughout the rest of that day, I had a series of random thoughts pop into my head. What are the hours for the local Social Security Office? Should I have my bangs to the side for my driver’s license photo? Will leasing an apartment become an easier process? Will I still feel slightly nervous anytime I see a police officer? And although I have known all along that this is all temporary, that night I went to sleep calmly knowing that a new life awaited me.

While I am now embarking on a new chapter in my life, I am keenly aware of the many others who still live in constant uncertainty and fear because of our broken immigration policy. In January 2013, federal lawmakers and President Obama outlined principles to reform the immigration system that could help millions of people, creating pathways to citizenship for all immigrants, including the DREAMers, and uniting U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents with their same-sex partners. As I continue to patiently—and sometimes not so patiently—wait for these things to occur, I am now navigating the process of figuring out who I am—again.

For the longest time, I have known myself to be a woman of color, slowly unveiling my undocumented and queer identities. I have grown accustomed to how my identities function and intersect on a daily basis. But now I have been informed that I am an undocumented queer woman of color WITH a work permit. Seriously? Undocumented AND with a permit?

With my work permit in hand, I recently started working at the National Center for Lesbian Rights as a projects assistant, where I’m specifically helping other LGBT immigrants and asylum seekers.

I never thought I would see the day. So, who am I now? I guess I will just have to sit back and let those answers come to me as I navigate my way through a whole new world.

JOSE MENDOZA, 24: DREAMS OF BECOMING A NURSE

Jose Mendoza had been an “A” student at his Long Beach high school, with a “B” here and there. He excelled through his high school’s highest honors, taking a stellar course load that included seven advanced placement courses and gaining acceptance to the Distinguished Scholars program.

But his undocumented status was weighing on his shoulders—and his dreams.

At the end of high school, Jose couldn’t apply to top colleges and universities like other high-performing students, and there was no way his family could afford a costly tuition.

“It felt like a dead end for me,” Jose said of the time. So, in 2008 he enrolled at Long Beach City College, where he spent two aimless years “passing time until something changed.”

Jose’s life soon took an even darker turn in 2011 when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. With his father working in construction out of state to keep money coming in, Jose became his mother’s primary caregiver through surgery, chemotherapy, and other treatments, as well as caregiver to his three younger brothers. Jose was doing the cooking and cleaning at home and taking his second youngest brother to school every day.

Happily, Jose’s mother successfully completed her treatment and is now doing fine. For Jose, the experience of watching her go through such a traumatic time was an inspiration. Despite the challenges he faced as an undocumented immigrant, he wanted to get back on track and find a way to make a difference in the world. He wanted to become a nurse.

“When I was in the hospital with my mom, I saw how there were all these nurses who were so helpful and who were working so hard to make her experience so much better,” Jose said.

In 2012, Jose started taking anatomy and human development classes at Santa Monica College that would allow him to apply to the nursing program. With President Obama’s launch of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Jose feels that the change he was awaiting is finally here.

“You spend all this time waiting for something to happen, and now it feels like there is finally some progress to talk about,” Jose said after submitting his DACA application. “It’s not everything we were waiting for, but it’s something. And it’s given me a new motivation to try to advance myself and move forward to achieve my goals.”

With the LGBT Dreamers Fund covering the costs of Jose’s DACA application, Jose did not have to dip into the money he’s saving up for school.

“It’s hard trying to keep up with the costs of education and daily life when you are undocumented,” he said.  “Getting this kind of support and help means so much, and it’s great to see the gay community stepping in and saying that what I am doing is important.”

LUIS LIANG, 22: DREAMS OF LEADING A NON-PROFIT

Luis Liang worked hard at school, and felt like his hard work had finally paid off when he found out he had been awarded a full-ride scholarship—covering tuition, room and board—to U.C. Berkeley in 2009. To an undocumented immigrant whose family couldn’t come close to affording a costly Berkeley tuition, it all seemed too good to be true.

And it was.

When Luis arrived on campus to start his fall semester, he was asked for his Social Security number so the university could finalize the scholarship arrangements. But he doesn’t have one. The university’s response: California law prohibited Luis from receiving the publicly funded scholarship because of his undocumented status.

Devastated, Luis returned to Orange County, where he went back to community college and began working again as a tutor as he tried to figure out the next steps he would take. Before long, he realized he wanted to get involved in the struggle for a level playing field for other students like him who are undocumented. He started a support organization, the Fullerton College DREAM Team, and soon learned about various private scholarships available to DREAMers.

The next year, Luis was back on the Berkeley campus as a full-time student in the Haas School of Business. With two private scholarships helping to cover his tuition, Luis graduated in May 2012. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and holds three jobs—one as a consultant, one as an accountant for a nonprofit organization, and one as a financial coach helping immigrants. Looking ahead, he hopes to use his business education to start a nonprofit that will help students from immigrant and low-income families get a higher education.

Luis’s mother still lives in Orange County, where she works at a flea market and in various factory jobs that an agency finds for her. His mother and father divorced shortly after coming to the United States from Mexico with Luis and his three sisters. His father returned to Mexico; his mother stayed in the United States to take care of the children.

Luis remembers the day in summer 2012 when President Obama announced that undocumented young people would be able to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. “I saw the news on Facebook and I instantly called my mom,” he said. “DACA is going to allow me to apply to any job I want. It means I don’t have to worry now about all the barriers that have been in front of me for all these years.”

While he was at Berkeley, Luis, who is gay, became friends with other gay and lesbian students who were also undocumented. “We are a double minority and we tend to stick together,” he said.

Luis said the LGBT DREAMers Fund meets a largely unrecognized need for support for LGBT undocumented immigrants. “It’s thrilling to know we have the support of both the immigrant rights and the gay communities and to see them standing together for equality and justice,” he said.

MARCO QUIROGA, 26: DREAMS OF BECOMING A SURGEON

marco-final-2One day when Marco Quiroga was in elementary school, his mother sat him down and asked him a question: “Lawyer or doctor?”

Marco enjoyed watching medical shows on TV and answered, “Doctor.” From that point on, his mother would invest a few dollars from every paycheck in Marco’s future—buying a microscope, a stethoscope, anything to keep encouraging him to pursue his goal.

He was just 2 years old when he immigrated to the United States from Peru with his three older siblings and their parents, who entered the country on work visas. After his mother left his father because of domestic abuse, she and the children settled in Orlando, Florida, where she landed a custodial job at Disney World, and cleaned people’s homes on the side to help. When his mother’s visa expired, she continued cleaning homes. She feared returning to Peru, where the dissolution of her marriage would have made it hard for her to survive.

Marco was a good student from the very start, and graduated at the top of his high school class in 2004. But not having a Social Security number meant Marco couldn’t get into the prestigious colleges and universities he wanted to attend. A year after graduating, Marco enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, where he majored in biochemistry. He also quickly assumed an active role in campus affairs, organizing his fellow students to get involved in everything from Habitat for Humanity to Hurricane Katrina relief.

As his college years came to an end, Marco again faced a familiar barrier: the medical schools he wanted to attend required applicants to provide a Social Security number. Marco decided to use this period in his life to help other undocumented youth. He recently started his own organization in Orlando focusing on providing free legal aid to undocumented immigrants so they can be approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Marco’s own application for DACA is currently under review. He said he was “thrilled” to have the support of the LGBT Dreamers Fund so that he could submit it. “Immigrant and LGBT issues have always been separate in my mind, and it is wonderful to see these two communities come together to work on a common cause,” he said.  “Receiving these funds creates a sense of community with other gay immigrants who are in my situation.”

If Marco’s application is approved, he said he wants to apply to medical school and become a general surgeon. But first, he said he feels a personal commitment to continuing his work in the area of advancing the rights and opportunities of immigrants and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.

“I always think of the effort and the sacrifices that my mother has made, and of how hard I have worked to get where I am today,” Marco said. “Getting approved for DACA will change my life. All I want is a chance to become a doctor and help people. That’s my passion. It shouldn’t be so hard for people like me to chase our dreams.”

JAIME DIAZ, 27: DREAMS OF BECOMING A TEACHER

jaime-finalJaime Diaz was 11 years old when he and his mother crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to be with his father, who had crossed a year earlier.

“We walked and walked and walked, but all I kept thinking was that I was going to get to see my father and we were coming to the United States,” Jaime recalled.

He and his mother arrived safely and made their way to Los Angeles, where his father had settled and awaited them. Jaime soon began attending an Inglewood middle school, where he had trouble fitting in.

“It was difficult adjusting and blending into the mainstream because of the language issues and the different customs,” he said.

But Jaime was able to keep his grades up through high school. When his classmates started applying to colleges in their senior year in 2002-03, Jaime decided he wanted to do the same.

His parents had only made it through the third grade in Mexico, and he wanted to be the first in his family to make it all the way through school, with a dream of eventually becoming a teacher.

He applied and was accepted into California State University, Dominguez Hills, and juggled his class load with a full-time job selling furniture as he pursued his bachelor’s degree. It took him seven years, and in 2011 he earned his teaching credential.

Jaime’s application for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was approved in late 2012, and he is waiting to take the state test to get his teaching credential. Jaime hopes to become an elementary school teacher in Inglewood, giving back to the community that’s not only been a significant part of his life, but is his home.

“Everything is starting to fall into place,” Jaime said. “Getting my work permit and Social Security card and other documents was like getting a whole load lifted off my shoulders. I feel more free because of DACA and I am no longer scared of the police or of being treated like a criminal.”

ALEJANDRA ESTRADA, 23: DREAMS OF GOING BACK TO SCHOOL

ale-finalAlejandra Estrada hasn’t known any other home than the United States. She was just 3 months old in 1989 when her mother brought her and her sister across the U.S.-Mexico border. They were coming to join Alejandra’s father, who had crossed earlier and was working construction jobs in Las Vegas.

The family spoke Spanish at home, but Alejandra picked up English quickly when she started school. She excelled in school, but she was unsure what to do after high school graduation—especially since college seemed out of reach because of her status as an undocumented immigrant.

One day after high school graduation, Alejandra went along with her mother on a house-cleaning job. Before long, she was employed full-time by the Las Vegas cleaning company where her mother worked.

But after two years with the company, Alejandra and her mother both grew tired of how much their employer was taking advantage of them because of their undocumented status. She and her mother quit their jobs to start their own cleaning business, appropriately called “Mother Knows Best.”

“I owe absolutely everything to my mom, and I couldn’t watch the way she was being treated any more,” Alejandra said.
Alejandra said the cleaning business hasn’t been great, but she’s hoping that will soon change. She also is thinking about other career options if and when her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application is approved. One possibility: going back to school and majoring in early child development.

“A change of status could really change everything,” Alejandra said. “When I am with my friends, it’s like I’m a little kid. I can’t get a driver’s license so I have to always have someone pick me up. And even though I have been here since I was a baby, there’s still this feeling that I don’t belong. Becoming a citizen and getting all of that crazy stuff squared away will be an incredible relief.”