We had the good fortune of connecting with Anjelica Monet Vargas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anjelica Monet, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
I’ve been on a debt-free journey the last few years, paying off my student loans. I use a budget that allows me to aggressively pay off debt as efficiently as possible by living on less than I earn. I was introduced to financial guru Dave Ramsey by a friend several years ago and have been working on the Baby Steps toward financial freedom. I am currently halfway done with Baby Step #2: Pay Off All Existing Debt. So far, I’ve paid off six student loans, my car, and am now tackling my last six student loans before leveling up to Baby Step #3! My lifestyle and spending choices are all filtered through my budget and priority to be debt-free as soon as possible. I’ve not ever been one to need much; though, that is not to say that I do not have things I enjoy. I’m more of a functional buyer. If there is something I need and it adds value, ease, and joy to my life I make it work with my budget, even if that means saving gradually toward a goal.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
When I started Come Alive in 2016, I was unemployed at the time. I’d been laid off from a previous role and was feeling the effects of the economy rebounding from the first recession. I submitted countless applications and resumes only to rack up an impressive stack of rejection letters. It was a period of at least 18 months of unemployment. I lived purely off of savings and stayed with family. It was not until the Fall of 2016, following the summer I began Come Alive, that I finally secured a position. It was part-time and everything that I was looking for: something local that would pay the bills well for part-time, allow me to build and run Come Alive, help me grow, and capitalize on my strengths. I became Administrative Director at the Long Beach Police Foundation, learning nonprofit operations, taking on grant writing, and facilitating annual events and fundraisers. It actually ended up being a very demanding part-time position! Maybe even more than I bargained for, but I made it work. I remained there part-time for two years before considering other employment opportunities. That’s when the organization made me a full-time salary employee with benefits. They changed my title to Director, while still allowing me to have summers off, in order to run Come Alive’s July camps. In the board meeting, I remember the Executive members saying, “If this were anyone else, we would not allow it. They could not walk in and have six weeks off just like that.” The comments were a reminder of the work done well during my part-time employment and felt like a divine reward for the commitment and value I invested in the organization. Maintaining two directorships was not easy. I felt the effects on my body and mind from working at an accelerated pace for extended periods of time. My annual calendar started with busy seasons at the Foundation event planning, followed by camp preparation for Come Alive, the month-long creative camp, and finally taking a brief week or two off and restarting the Foundation’s event calendar again. It felt like I was in a never-ending cycle and I felt fatigued in advance, like a year in advance. I would look at the year ahead, and I would feel so worn out. Part of the fatigue came from the learning curve and efforts required of me at the Foundation during my first two years. I am a high capacity individual, and I’d functioned exhausted for so long, building, grinding, moving, and shaking, that I almost didn’t realize just how spent I’d become until my brain and body showed me. I will say, the slowed pace of 2020 has been good for my soul. I’ve been able to really temper all of my projects so that I can function with longevity, remain inspired, and continue working with excellence at everything I place my name on. One thing I’ve meditated on this season: a strong hustle requires strong rhythms of rest and I get to rest well in the ways that restore and revive me. It would be easy to say I regret how I went about it all because of the near burnout, though that wouldn’t be accurate. Instead, I view the experience through the lens of my favorite quote by Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better. ” So here I am, on the other side of what I knew and now living in what I know, doing better while building forward, and continuing to run both organizations.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Favorite spots to visit in Long Beach: I love showing off the togetherness of my city. Some of my most favorite activities include the uncommon experiences that keep me active and outside. Bonus, many are free and low-cost! Here’s a mixture of things I enjoy sharing with friends and family. 1. Yoga on Bluff Park, a grassy area overlooking the beach 2. Bike riding along the beach path to the Lighthouse at the Pike or Belmont Shore 3. Salud Juices on 4th street for a healthy pressed juice, smoothie, or bowl 4. Gatherings and archery classes at El Dorado Park 5. Walking around Skyline Park in Signal Hill or sitting and watching the sunset there and eventually all of the city lights that extend to downtown LA 6. Experience the Floating Swan ride in the Rainbow Lagoon at the Pike in downtown 7. Taco Tuesday fish tacos at Baja Cali on Pine and 10th 8. Craft ice cream from Rori’s at SteelCraft’s outdoor urban eatery made from shipping containers 9. Lunch at The Hanger, an indoor food market with great outdoor seating 10. Walking around the Colorado Lagoon Favorite spots to visit in Los Angeles: 1. Porto’s Bakery: guava pastries, Cuban plates, my mouth is watering…There is not anything I’ve eaten from Porto’s that I would not recommend. 2. Guisados Taqueria has hands down the best tacos with fresh tortillas! Must try: pollo de tingas, bistek en salsa roja and the conchinita pibil tacos. Yum! 3. Sidecar Doughnuts in Newport Beach or Santa Monica (just found out they opened a location in Torrance too)! 4. Carmela’s Ice Cream in Pasadena has incredible small-batch craft ice cream with unique flavors. 5. Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro is a maker’s market that also offers art classes, like candle making. 6. The Donut Man at Grand Central Market in LA. Donuts from their flagship store in Glendora were a rite of passage at my Alma Mater, APU. 7. Favorite beaches to check out: Manhattan, Hermosa, Huntington, Newport, and Laguna
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so grateful for those who went before me, climbed, and lifted me, setting the example of dedication to a vision, possibilities with community, and the value of regular encouragement of soul, mind, and spirit amidst disappointments and unknowns that come with building anything. One of the best parts of Come Alive has been working with friends, family, and connections across industries to make this work possible. I am endlessly grateful for our volunteer instructors, mentors, donors, and parents that journey with us each year. Without the support and opportunity to pilot our programs at Light and Life Christian Fellowship, we could not have shown the community or future sponsors the value and impact of Come Alive. When I think of Come Alive’s foundation, I cannot go without acknowledging my dear friends at R33Kz Design Group, who believed in me when Come Alive was in its infancy. Enrique built Come Alive’s website and designed our logo, and Christine captured the essence of concept designs for marketing pieces. I’m ever grateful for such belief and support. Also, I acknowledge Art4Moore, an organization whose mission was to support grass-root initiatives, getting support into the hands of those making a difference. Art4Moore awarded Come Alive funding that enabled the second year of camp, and a third, and a fourth! They’ve since closed down, but their initial investment was the confirmation to continue Come Alive and that everything we needed would come with time. Their award also inspired a boldness to continue seeking out support from major companies, which ultimately led to partnerships with Domino’s, FedEx, Passion Planner, and Enola Gaye. Lastly, it has been my “ring of solid gold” (aka my support system), who have spurred me on along the way while I juggle two organizations. They have reminded me to keep dreaming and that there is room to move through what is hard in the safety of an authentic community. Without my late Aunt Sarah’s support, love, and presence, I would not have spoken the hopes I’d had for Come Alive, or even named it as such. She reminded me always that my vision was true and that I was uniquely equipped for such a time. I take all of her wisdom and love with me moving forward, knowing she’s cheering us all on with a loud, “Chaaaaahoooooo!”
Evangelina Rivas Photography