Her Story: Rachel Martinez

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I’m so happy to share the latest Her Story today! I met Rachel during my sophomore year of college and always looked up to her, wishing I could be as bold and sassy. Read on to discover how she met her fiancé (best story!), why she loves her job, and the advice she would give to every college graduate.
Age: 24
Hometown: Austin, Texas/ Hamilton, NY
Current City: New York, NY
Occupation: Hotel Front Office Manager

What is a book that’s changed your life and why?
Harry Potter series. Corny and cliche, I know, but it’s the truth. I love the entire series and growing up alongside the characters is something I will always cherish. What makes it special is how three-dimensional these kids were who ultimately became everyone’s friend. The magical world was so fantastical and pushed you to the limits of your imagination, yet you could taste butterbeer, and you could walk the crooked cobblestones of Diagon Alley in your head. What makes it even better is that my mom and brother read the series as well, so it is something we can all talk about and relate to (and my dad knows enough just from hearing us talk about it before and after every book release). A really special memory is when my mom, dad, brother, and I decided to get similar tattoos relating to our family. While I was getting my tattoo, my mom was holding one hand, my dad was by my feet, and my brother was reading Harry Potter (the tattoo artist had it in his studio) with all of the characters’ different voices. It is a fond memory, definitely made the time go by faster, and something we will always have together.

What is one recipe you know by the back of your hand? Is there a special memory connected to this dish?
Spinach Balls. My mom used to make this dish for family parties when I was growing up. It is literally two whole blocks of frozen spinach, turkey stuffing from the box and a few eggs. When I didn’t have any money after graduation, I would make a few dozen of these, freeze them and eat 5 or 6 as lunch because they are so healthy, they fill your belly and taste AMAZING. Later on when Tim and I moved in together, I made them for him one night and prefaced his first bite with, “After you eat these, you’ll really want to marry me!” A few hours later, he was creeping around our room and I snuck up behind him as he was putting engagement rings on my bedside table and not knowing what to say, he blurted out, “Well… You were right about the spinach balls.” They still remind me of home, comfort, and family love.

What was the transition like moving from Texas to New York City?
The transition from Texas to New York City was very different than my other moves in life. This time I was moving for love (Tim already lived here) and to be closer to my family. I have been away from family since I graduated, and while trying to secure a transfer back to the East coast, my Grandpa passed away–that really hit home for me and made me want to be a drive away versus a flight. In regards to the difference between the two places, I am a country mouse and need water, grass, and visible blue skies to survive. Texas had plenty of this, and thank goodness, our apartment is in Jersey City on the corner of a beautiful park with farmer’s markets and plenty of green grass. While I am not a huge fan of NYC, the cold, or the attitudes of some people who live here, I still try to appreciate the culture, food and many opportunities that lie in front of me.

Because we all love a good love story… How did you meet your fiancé?
I moved to upstate New York in 10th grade and Tim had moved away in 8th grade but came back often to see his friends. We always knew of each other but did not really make a point to talk too much. Two years ago, I had just moved to Austin and was truly enjoying my single life when my parents kind of got on me about getting out there and meeting guys (stupid conversation at 23). I vehemently reiterated that I had never been so happy and content by myself in my entire life and did not want a relationship, so there was no need to go out searching for one. A few months later, I took a chance and adopted an amazing senior dog who brought me back to life and helped my work/personal life balance. A few weeks later, I got a Facebook message from Tim saying he would be in town and was told to look me up by a mutual friend. He came in for a concert and even though I did not want to meet up with him, we did, and because I was going in without looking for anything, I was completely myself and just focused on being hospitable to a visiting guest. We ended up hitting it off, going to the concert together, and meeting a crazy group of horse-ranchers from Arizona who pushed us together. They must’ve seen something we didn’t because, lo and behold, we’re getting married (and yes, those crazy concert-goers are invited to the wedding.)

What trait or characteristic do you love most about yourself?
I truly love the blend of characteristics that my parents have given to me. While I am very business-driven like my mother and think checking off items on my to-do list is the bee’s knees, I can also get lost in the beauty of music, art and nature, like my father. If these two personalities could be neatly summed up into one word, that is what I would use to describe myself. It has also become very important for me to remember each of these sides of myself every day at work and at home. Sometimes I need to put my “bitches get shit done” pants on and kick-ass in the corporate world, and sometimes I need to take a deep breath, find the positive in the situation and feel the sunshine around me.

How have you changed since graduating college?
While I have almost always been confident in myself and my actions, moving across the country immediately after college was definitely a big wake-up call. I had to learn how to be completely independent and be comfortable with whatever life was giving to me at the time. Every day I had to balance what little money I had, make new friends, handle car trouble, deal with woes at work, AND do it all the way across the country from my family. Despite the tough times, this experience shaped who I am as a person and made me comfortable with things I could not change. It helped me look at things logically, solve what problems I could, and focus on the positive. I highly suggest to anyone graduating to move across the country, live in a beautiful place, make new friends, and be on your own. You will learn things about yourself, meet interesting people, and will never have anything to regret when you are 80 and wondering where your youth and independence went.

How did you find your way into your current career?
In college I was having second-thoughts about starting teaching classes (sadly, I do not like children… a minor detail I had overlooked) and went to interview for a summer job at a small boutique inn in my town. They ended up putting me at the Front Desk and from there, something happened. I loved being the hub of the hotel and assisting everyone with their daily tasks to make this beautiful hotel function. I also truly enjoyed assisting guests with their requests, putting special touches on reservations and looking for ways to make their special occasion, weekend away from the kids, or “stay-cation” a memorable one. After finding an internship two summers later in Myrtle Beach, SC and working at an 800-room resort, I knew that big or small, I loved them all. After graduation, I started with Hyatt Hotels Corporation as a Front Desk Agent and two years and one position later, I worked my way back to the Front Desk as a Manager. After over a year at that position, I reached a goal of securing a position at Hyatt’s boutique-style hotel, Andaz. If my first hotel experiences were my Bachelor’s degree, this is my Master’s. I am learning how to fine-tune my management skills and hospitality knowledge. This is definitely my chosen profession and I feel very passionately about what I do. I can’t wait to see where the next hotel and next position take me!

Describe one of your favorite memories.
One of my favorite memories is celebrating Christmas as an adult in my parent’s home. I remember one moment very fondly when we were playing my Grandpa’s favorite card game (3-card) and had all had a little too much Port wine. The rules kept changing, the laughs got louder, and after a while it didn’t matter who won each round. I grew up seven houses down from my mother’s parents and they have been a HUGE part of my life. When my Grandpa died this past year, I was very sad, but also very happy that I had him so close to me my entire life and even into adulthood. I know how he talked to me when I was a bad little kid with scrapes on my knees, I know how he talked to me that night as I got silly off of Port, and I know what he would say to me in the future when I will need his advice. It’s thanks to memories like the one above that I have that privilege.

What words do you live by?
“This is my life.” When going through a breakup in college (that lasted about four years too long), I was at a very low point in self-pity and sadness and it just hit me one day that this was my life, and no matter what dish my best friend brought over to cheer me up, or what song my brother made me listen to to show that everyone goes through this, I realized I was the only one who could change my day. That day, I literally opened my blinds, changed my clothes, went for a run through beautiful Geneseo at dusk and afterwards felt LOADS better. From then on, I always remind myself and also tell anyone who will listen that this is your life–if something is going wrong, only YOU have the power to change it. If something is going right, remember that this time is special and bask in it.

What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
My favorite way to unwind after a long day is to listen to my jam of the moment on the way home to signify that I have left work, take my pup for a long walk and do something active. Once I’m home again, I’d drink a glass of wine in the shower, eat a great, satisfying and healthy meal, relax with Tim, and enjoy our favorite show or a movie. To finish off the night, I’d enjoy a midnight snack in bed with a good book.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given or wish you’d been told sooner?
One of the best pieces of advice given to me that is applicable to my personal life and my work life is taken from the book The Four Agreements. It is a combination of the second and third agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally/Don’t Make Assumptions. This helped me with everything from dealing with difficult relationships, to dealing with difficult, demanding and very often, rude, guests at my job. For every person that says terrible things to me, I consciously make the decision to not take it personally, and I’ll even make up a little story in my head about how they had a really bad flight with a crying baby next to them, their luggage was lost, and they are facing a deadline at work. I don’t promote anyone having so much negativity, but I like to think that by me making an effort to project as much positivity as I can and shrug off their bad vibes, they will take what I have given, relax after a while, and start to be nice again. This is a pipe dream, and definitely hard work on challenging days, but something that I try to remind myself every day.

Author: Rachael

Book lover + editor, feminist, California soul + New York state of mind.

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