World-Traveler Saundra Reminds Us to Live Freely!
We spoke with the amazing Saundra! Saundra opened up about biracial struggles, insecurities, and how she manages to travel the world regardless of money. Saundra's interview will definitely spark a fire within you!
Tell me about your childhood growing up, when did you know you had a passion for people? What influences, negative and positive, shaped who you are today?
Well my mother is Hispanic and my father is black. My father passed away when I was 8 months therefore leaving my mother to be not only a single mother, but a teenage mother. So growing up, I struggled with a lot of things: being biracial, having no father, being one of the only minorities in a predominately white school, going back and forth from my black side of the family while my mom was going to college, not having a lot of money, going through challenges with my cousins who lived with us because their mother died and my uncle was a drug addict.
Once my mother finished school, we moved by the galleria in Houston just so I could have a better education. I remember being in the 4th grade, coming home, doing homework, and cooking my own meal. Like legit some rice and turkey breast on the stove. That’s when my step father came in the picture, who I love dearly. He taught my mother how to love tenderly. Not just for survival. I guess you can say my mother was VERY strict before he came in the picture. Any who, we moved from a nice area back to the hood. My mother lost her job. So here I am having to switch schools, which was completely different because like I said we were in the hood. I now appreciate it, because I learned to appreciate the good and bad from 5th grade until high school. I learned to listen to God and trust in God when things don’t go your way. Reason I say that is because my mother went from losing a job, to starting her own business. Which is doing very well still til this day. She has a nice shop off Washington in Houston. Seeing her chase a vision taught me that I could do the same. If you want something, YOU have to do the work to get it. Establish good relationships with people, be good to people, have a sense of gratitude because karma is real.
The first thing I really loved was basketball. It taught me discipline, team work, dedication, and passion. That’s was my escape as a kid throughout high school. I realized how deeply I loved people when I was 18. My older cousin Vanessa passed away. We shared the same birthday and she was only two years older than me. That literally broke my heart. She was diagnosed with lupus and shortly after passed away. After she died I had a different appreciation for life. It then struck me that not everyone lives to see 21, which in my world I never thought that would ever happen. So I made a promise to myself that I would appreciate my life and the people in it. Make goals and accomplish them before it’s too late. Just being happy! Also, surrounding myself with likeminded positive people, which means having to let go of everything negative no matter how hard it is. Because if I ever die, I want to be content, I don’t want to die knowing I could have done more. God has blessed me health, something people take for granted and I don’t want to be one of them. I have the ability to go out and talk to people. Motivate people. Help people. Be a friend. So that’s what I’m here doing.
My friends and strangers have definitely kept my spirit alive by supporting me. Supporting me through my challenges and success. I’m proud of myself because I work so hard to be able to do things I desire like traveling. My friend once told me, “Never let money be the reason you don’t travel." I never let that go because it’s so true. Think about it… if we stay concerned and worry about how we can afford things. We’re already blocking our blessings by being negative without even realizing it. Instead we should think, I want to go here! I need to make that happen, I don't know how, but I am. So once I started doing that I let go of wishing for material things and started spending my money on plane tickets. I want life to be my teacher. Experience it firsthand. That’s what’s shaping my life right now, by creating it. "A thought is the first step for success”. So write down a bucket list. Doesn’t have to be extreme, but make one and MAKE IT HAPPEN. Cross one thing off and add another. You’ll realize that life will present opportunities to help you accomplish what you’re manifesting. It’s up to us to take the opportunity without being afraid of the unknown. My life goals are to affect people positively, love and cross off all things on my bucket list.
How was it growing up biracial? Also, as a member of the LGBT community, how do you feel about the recent marriage equality laws?
My biracial struggles come from everywhere. It’s a feeling mixed people understand more than others. It’s like for example, if I’m at school or whatever side of the family, it’s like I’m not enough of one thing. At school I was black to Mexicans and to my black friends it’s like, “your black…BUT your Mexican, so that’s why you have good hair.“ It’s like I’m BOTH. Neither one is greater or less.
Same with my sexuality. Yes, I’m a lesbian but I’m not the biggest lesbian advocate. I believe love is love. Love whoever you want. So I’m super excited and happy for the LBGT community. It’s about time we allow equality. That’s a start for change but it’s sad that you can get killed for being gay in other parts of the world. So I pray everyone has a safe marriage and can live happily ever after.
Back to being a minority. I said that meaning, I’m not white. Not in a sense of I’m smaller than the next person. Also my family isn’t racist or nothing like that, almost all of my cousins are mixed. So my family is full of different ethnicities. And, as we got older we had to explain that we didn’t appreciate when they made little comments. To them it’s not in a harmful way but it did hurt our feelings. Because it’s like why tease us for something that’s out of our control. For instance, I don’t speak Spanish. So in high school most of my friends were black. And my family would be like she forgot she's Mexican, jokingly, but it wasn’t true. In school the Mexicans think I’m black so, I surround myself with what I’m comfortable with. If I’m sitting at a table with Mexicans who speak Spanish, of course, I’m going to feel left out. But that doesn’t mean I’m forgetting I’m Mexican. Now if I knew Spanish, I’m sure I’d have a lot more Hispanic friends. But then after school if a black friend came to my house, they’d be like, "I forgot you're Mexican." I’m like, and I’m still black too. I claim both.
You said earlier that you mom was strict, what did you mean by that?
I say my mother was strict because I know realize she only wanted better for me. She was learning how to be a mother. We grew up together. She was young and impatient. She showed me tough love until I was like 9, that’s when my step dad came in the picture. But as I grew older and closer to her, I learned to understand her better. My grandfather was in the Air Force for 20 plus years. So she grew up like she was in the military. She was loving me the best she knew how. As a kid I wasn’t allowed to make many mistakes. But hey it paid off, I seem to think I make pretty good decisions now.
You travel often. Whats your favorite place and why?
My favorite place I’ve traveled? Sheesh, it’s hard to say because I feel like I’m just starting. I’m in Phuket right now and I love it. I love a lot of places though. I guess you can say appreciate cultures more than the places. So as far as that goes, I would have to say Hawaii. Not only is it a beautiful place but they really treat you like "Ohana," family. I’ve had complete strangers buy my meal and tell me about the Hawaiian culture & how our government basically stripped their government away and pushed it under the rug. They still until this day protest against it and some even still follow the old government which still exist.
What do you think it means to be successful? And if you could give advice to younger women who may be able to relate to your story, what would it be?
There are many different ways you can look at success. Simply, accomplish what you set out to accomplish. The most important things to me right now as far as being successful is mentally and spiritually. Having a peace of mind & consciously aware of my thoughts. It’s challenging at first but once you complete a goal that you never thought you could accomplish, a light goes off in your head like okay, I get it now.
First and foremost, I want young women to respect themselves. Be a leader and make your own decisions. Remember that this is your life and nobody else can live it. WE are the creators of how our lives turn out. Energy is real, remain positive so you can attract positivity. Don’t let whatever tragedies you’ve been through cripple you. Let it make you understand that people all over the world go through the same things, or something much worse. All though we may not understand it, your story one day may help someone else get through whatever it is they’re going through. Believe in yourself & trust in the universe. If you love something, find a way to do it! Let every failure motivate you to try again, knowing that something better is waiting for you. Let every failure be your teacher, do not let failure break you down. We are women, strong women, and we have to be our strongest during the toughest times in our lives. Success isn’t sweet when you’re weak & you don’t have to be rich to be successful.
Where are you currently in your life, as far as goals and success? What have you set out to accomplish and what have you accomplished?
I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life right now. I just completed a 5-month contract in Hawaii and I’m now on vacation which is what I planned on doing. I wanted my girlfriend to travel with me when I left and she was able to do that. I set a goal to take myself to the places I wanted to visit & now it’s happening. My next goal is to go to sea school in Maryland so I can do international contracts. I always said I wanted to make money while traveling for free. And right now this is how God’s presenting it to me. I’ve accomplished raising money & getting people involved in Houston before I left for” #HashtagLunchbag”, which is a nonprofit organization to feed the homeless. With Saundratv, I was able to donate the money I made off shirts to the organization, which is awesome! I’m thankful for the supporters. I’m able to use Saundratv as a platform to display talent. People still ask when I’m putting out the next video because they want to be put on some new things which is an accomplishment to me, since I haven’t put out work in months. I got to meet and interview people that have never even met me before just off the strength of my content and I feel my best work has yet to come. I’m still learning. I covered a few events during SXSW and I also helped curate a huge private party during SXSW in 2014 called the "Antisocial Party," which was a success. Once I can generate the income I’m aiming for I will definitely plan more events in Houston. I plan to accomplish traveling around the world and I want to interview whoever I go after. I wish to create a loyal creative team to bring Saundratv to life at the right time. I just feel like now is not my time to stay in Houston. I have to go get it and bring it back to my city.
To hear more about Saundra and what she does, check her out on Instagram @Saundraloves.