How Was 2014?

There are many ways to do an end-of-the-year personal evaluation or self-assessment. You can evaluate different areas of your life. Some of the most common ones include your social life, relationships, family, finances, school, career, health, spirituality, and a lot more. You can grade them, you can do a list of major events or highlights of the year that it is about to end. Normally this is something that requires serious pondering in order to get the most out of it, but even a general recount may help you to realize how your life is going. You can skim your journal, see your pictures of this year, check out your social media, and a lot more to start remembering some things you did in 2014.

So if you want to really start finding positive changes in your life, you first need to know where you are at in your journey of life. Constant evaluation is an effective way of picturing where are you heading to. Today I want to share a general summary of my life in 2014. I won’t make public the most personal aspects of my year nor I will give more details than what you will see here. But I share this as a way for me to feel more accountable, to share a bit more about me, to start an online summary of my years, and perhaps to encourage others to do the same. So here we go.


2014: A Year of Trying New Ventures

If I had to describe in one line how this year went for me based on were most of my time went, that’s how I would describe it. It was a year of trying new ventures in the professional area. I read a couple of books and tutorials and took a few courses online about online marketing and making money online. I was caught in some traps and I also invested considerable time, efforts and money in things that didn’t come out the way I expected it. However, I learned a lot and I’m now looking forward to doing some things differently in 2015. Now, here is a sharable summary of my life in 2014.



In 2014, I was able to see one of my sisters who doesn’t live in Guadalajara. She and her husband came and visited us for Christmas in 2013. They stayed for a few days and left in the first week of January 2014. We then met again in Mexico City for a day during the summer. I was also able to visit other family who I hadn’t seen for a long time in Hermosillo. I visited their homes and spent some time together.

This year I was able to celebrate my mom’s and two of my sisters’ respective birthdays. I also celebrated mom on Mothers’ Day. Besides these special occasions, I went dining and watched movies with my mom several times this year on ordinary days. A blessing I didn’t have some previous years because of the distance. Christmas in 2014 was also another great opportunity to spend time together with two of my sisters, my mom, and one of my aunts.

Picture of two of my sisters and my mom at the Metropolitan Park in Guadalajara, Mexico on Mother's Day.

PICTURE ABOVE: Two of my sisters and my mom at the Metropolitan Park in Guadalajara, Mexico on Mother’s Day.


Picture of my mom, sister and I at a table using chopsticks. The restaurant is big and has a great Chinese interior design. It looks fancy and empty.

PICTURE ABOVE: Celebrating Mom’s birthday at La Ciudad Prohibida restaurant in Guadalajara, Mexico.



I began the year having a girlfriend, but we ended our relationship when I left to Hermosillo, Sonora to live there for a couple of months. My social life hasn’t been one of the most active ones in 2014, but I was still able to meet new people and made new friends. And definitely among the top of my social life was seeing several friends that I hadn’t seen for many years.

In 2014 I lived alone, but most of the year I lived with friends in Hermosillo and Guadalajara (besides living with my mom during the summer). Living with friends was good because I learned a lot from them and got to know them better.

A picture of me and an older couple posing in front of a Catholic church with Neo-Gothic architecture.

PICTURE ABOVE: The parents of who used to be my best friend in the fourth grade of elementary school. Great family. I had years without seeing them and they came to Guadalajara. The building behind is the Templo Expiatorio in Guadalajara, Mexico.



In 2014 I did English-Spanish interpreting and translation services mainly for VSTEP, a Dutch company that sells maritime simulators. I also made some websites and graphic design services as a freelancer. At least the first part of 2015, I’ll continue doing this and perhaps combining it with some teaching and other projects. And here is a commercial, if you need a website, graphic design solutions, or interpreting services, you can contact me 🙂

A picture of a maritime simulator with projections on the background as if there were a real maritime environment.

PICTURE ABOVE: One of the maritime simulators installed in Tampico, Mexico. I took the picture before the openings below were closed. The images in the background, behind the controls and monitors, are projections on a wall.

Picture of three people (including me).

PICTURE ABOVE: Captain Orlando from Cuba, and Captain and Maritime Simulator Manager Rutger van Eijden from Belgium, and I. Some of the people I worked with.


Courses and Tutorials

In 2014, I took some online courses and tutorials, mostly about Online Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and a few HTML concepts. I also learned about some other tools in Photoshop I hadn’t used all these years.



In the previous year (2013) I had been in China, Hong Kong, Italy, Morocco, and Spain, but in 2014 I stayed national. I went to Hermosillo, Sonora; Tampico, Tamaulipas; Mazatlan, Sinaloa; Mexico City; Veracruz, Veracruz; and León, Guanajuato, in that order.

Picture of a building that looks like a castle on the beach.

PICTURE ABOVE: The Bora Bora Valentino’s complex in Mazatlan at night.



In 2014 I stayed healthy. I don’t remember getting sick at all. I feel blessed and grateful for it.


New Foods

This may not be a relevant category for many people, but for me it is an interesting one. I like trying and experimenting new foods, as long as they won’t affect my health negatively or go against my convictions. So in 2014 these are the new dishes or foods I ate, crocodile meat, escamoles, rose petals and pecans soup, cheese and spinach malffati; in Tampico, Mexico, I tried two regional dishes, one is tortas de la barda (a kind of sandwich [1] with beans, ham, chorizo [2], chicharrón [3] and other ingredients) and the other one was carne or bistec a la tampiqueña, which is a tender strip of beef served with beans, guacamole, an enchilada, browned jalapeño pepper and fried plantain. I also tried Guerrero style pozole [4], Honduran tamales [5], guayachata [6], pizza without flour but a base of cauliflower, and a gourmet hot dog, which was a big piece of meat topped with Brie cheese, pears, almonds, some green leaves, and spicy honey and mustard dressing.

Picture of a gourmet hot dog.

PICTURE ABOVE: A gourmet hot dog. I had eaten many hot dogs in many places, but never a gourmet hot dog. I really liked it.


Picture of malffati at a restaurant table.

PICTURE ABOVE: Cheese and spinach Malffati in Guadalajara.



For me photography has also its own category. Although in 2014 I didn’t take as many pictures as in previous years, some of my pictures were published in a university textbook titled Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East by Donna Lee Bowen. This is a great accomplishment for me.

Picture of an Egyptian man with local attire and headscarf selling big fish on the floor.

PICTURE ABOVE: A man selling fish in Luxor, Egypt. This picture was published on a book and it also won a honorific mention in the Brigham Young University Kennedy Center in 2010.


Reading books

I also consider reading books a separate area to review. I bought several books this year. I didn’t read books as much as in other years and I couldn’t finish them all, I ended up reading around five or six only.



In 2014 I went to Six Flags in Mexico City, I went ice skating, I went dancing and to some parties. I watched several movies and documentaries. And I also went to Barranca de Huentitan viewpoint (a canyon in the north of Guadalajara).

Picture of three people (me included) and in the back some roller-coaster tracks.

PICTURE ABOVE: My sister, one of her friends and I at Six Flags in Mexico City.


Spiritual Life

And regarding the most important area of life, 2014 was also a special year. I was able to meet and shake hands with Elder Russell M. Nelson after hearing his inspiring talk at a stake conference [7] in Guadalajara. I participated in a religious choir and enjoyed the experience. I continued attending institute classes [8] in Guadalajara and anywhere I traveled. During the whole year, there were particular and memorable lessons and talks that gave me strength and motivation in my life. I also dreamed my dad a few times who passed away in 2012.

Picture of eight people including me at an ice cream store.

PICTURE ABOVE: A group of LDS Institute students in Mazatlan. We went out to have some fruit flavored drinks and ice cream.

As an unplanned and uncommon way to celebrate my birthday, I went with my sister and some friends from Church to visit a children’s home to donate some food and play with the children. Before departing we joined all children and visitors in a circle prayer. A young girl, perhaps eight years old, prayed, and knowing it was my birthday, she asked in particular for me. She did it generously and using words that surprised us. She was eloquent for her age, but humble, and sincere. It was touching and humbling. Right before leaving, the children sang to me a Christian birthday song that I hadn’t heard before.


First and Last Day of 2014

What did you do on the first day of the year 2014? Can you remember? I do. The first day of January I was in Guadalajara at my mom’s home. We had one of my sisters and her husband visiting for Christmas and New Year. I woke up early and went with my brother in law to get some breakfast, but most places were closed. We drove around the city from Plaza Galerias to Zapopan downtown and more. Finally we got something to eat. Later on two of my sisters, my brother in law, my girlfriend at the time and I went to get some lunch and then headed to la Barranca de Huentitan viewpoint (a canyon in the north of Guadalajara). We came back home in the evening, mingled, most likely we watched a movie, I read, and the day was gone.

Picture of four people including me and part of a mountain on the background.

PICTURE ABOVE: I couldn’t find another picture, but this is the only decent picture I have of my sister, her husband and I together. The girl on the left was my girlfriend at the time. The picture was taken on the first day of the year at the viewpoint of the Barranca de Huentitán (a canyon north of Guadalajara).

[The following paragraph was added on January 5, 2015] The last day of the year, I woke up and prepared some games for the evening. At the last minute I didn’t need them. I also took some time to write down some goals. I went to my mom’s house in the evening. An aunt and an uncle (both mom’s siblings) were there visiting. We chatted and took pictures. Then we all left home and went to a party with a family we know for around 15 years or so. First the missionaries (elders and sisters) shared a message about the Lord focused on Luke 2:52, the value and importance of families, and the new year’s resolutions. After dinner (barbecued tender strips of beef, pozole, pork beans, salad and more) the missionaries, my uncle and aunt left. Those who stayed (12 people) continued chatting, we drank non-alcoholic cider and other similar non-alcoholic drinks. We had some sparklers, we took pictures, some of us played some card games and we all ended singing karaoke until almost three in the morning.

So there you go, this is my year in 2014. I encourage you to do your own yearly summary or something similar, whether you share it or keep it private, is up to you, but it would be great to do it. When you do it, your eyes open and you will see how you are doing with the passing of the years.

So how was 2014 for you? Feel free to share something below in the comments section. Do you want ideas? What did you do/where were you the first and last day of 2014? You can also share a link to whatever place you have your summary published. Happy 2015!


1. There is a variety of sandwiches in Mexico, the ones called tortas are usually made with bread similar to a short, but wide baguette.

2. Mexican chorizo is a type of sausage similar to the one in Spain but with regional spices and chili peppers. You can learn more about it in the chorizo article in the Wikipedia.

3. Chicharrón is fried pig skin commonly found in Mexico as a dry and crunchy snack. In some cases it is also used as a main dish cooked with salsa verde (a green type of hot sauce) and as a gordita (small cake made with corn flour) filling.

4. Pozole is a typical Mexican soup or stew. It’s main ingredient is hominy and it has meat, normally pork, chicken, and/or turkey and several seasonings and garnish such as cabbage, lettuce, radish, salsa, and/or limes. The pozole Guerrero style is made with chicken and ha white broth (as oppose as the most common red broth). It is eaten with tostadas (corn tortilla chips), dry chicharrón [3], and egg-coated stuffed jalapeño peppers (chiles jalapeños rellenos). The filling for the jalapeños was ground beef with pineaple syrup, pecans, raisins, and perhaps peaches.

5. Honduran tamales. Tamales are well know in Mexico and there are different kinds of tamales. Honduran tamales are not too different, they reminded me of the Oaxacan tamales (Oaxaca is a state in Mexico). Honduran tamales are big, squared, filled with meat and wrapped in banana leaves.

6. Guayachata. Horchatadrink made with guava. Great combination.

7. Stake conference. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, most members gather in small congregations called wards. Generally a group of 5 to 12 wards make up the administrative unit called stake. These wards get together in a big meeting twice a year in what it is called stake conference. You can learn more about stakes in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism article.

8. Institute classes. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is a program of courses aimed for adults from 18 to 30 years old married or single simply known as Institute classes. Most courses are doctrinal, although there are some that may be focused on finances, self-reliance, and others. In the Institute program there are also activities such as dances, conventions, service activities, cooking classes, games, and more.