WHO ARE YOU?
I have carried many different labels: Tejano, born and raised in Houston, Texas by Mexican immigrants; US Infantry Marine; Certified Personal Trainer; Unstable Veteran; Ops Manager; Veteran’s Dorm Coordinator; and most recently, Ocean Lab General Manager. I prefer the label, Manny. 🙂
I gave the college route a good attempt for a few years after high school but took a detour through the United States Marine Corps (USMC). I served for six years, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan as an Infantryman Reservist during my time in.
After returning home from deployments, I found myself dealing with the after effects of war. Military culture didn’t necessarily train us to take care of ourselves in healthy ways. What worked for me as a Marine Corps Infantryman – self-medicating with alcohol, risky behavior, an inflated ego, avoidance, anger, and aggression – helped me survive the war experience, but it was ruining my life as a civilian.
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
Long story short, I was at increasing risk of becoming another obituary column or incarcerated veteran. The only option that made sense was to move to Austin in hopes of finding a path to healing. I didn’t know what that looked like, but I knew I needed to change my environment.
I made the move in 2014, and slowly, with the help of the Austin healing community, The Austin VA, and staff at The Samaritan Center, I began to find refuge to heal.
Health and fitness have always been an interest of mine. During my time as a USMC Reservist, I became a Certified Personal Trainer and worked at several gyms in the Houston area in between deployments. Looking back, I believe it was my destiny to join the healing community of The Ocean Lab. Kevin Johnson referred me to Eric Anderson, who owned The Ocean Lab at that time. The rest you already know!
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT?
Many of these kinda overlap but: food, meditation, my many communities, travel, culture, music, my dog, nature, trail running, spirituality, and the outdoors – to name a few things off the top of my head.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE?
First, by improving and evolving into the best version of myself. Second, by serving the members of our community and assisting them in becoming the best versions of themselves- one mindful interaction at a time.
I’m also committed to paying forward the care and support I received from the different healers and helpers in our Central Texas community. Huge shout out to the the good guys on at VA, fellow Veteran peers on the healing path, all the compassionate yogis from the many studios where I’ve practiced around Austin, sensory deprivation floating, acupuncturists, sound healers, and many other wonderful alternative healers who guided me on this path of healing love and compassion.
ANY GIFTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY?
My most prized gift is the ability to truly listen to others with caring intention, and to provide support and facilitate space to inspire/empower my fellow humans through their journeys.