Yep, you might be broke–and it sucks–but this could be the break you needed. Come again? You read correctly. This could be the time when you turn things around for good. If you’ve been handed a layoff notice, or work-wise you’re hitting a wall or having less and less cash to pay for even the bare necessities, realize that you’re not alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published the most recent (Nov. ’08) national unemployment rate as 6.7–the highest in 10 years. By comparison, in November 2007 it was 4.7. In other words, you’re not imagining things. We are officially in a recession. Folks are out of work and unless the auto industry gets that government-backed bailout, more jobs may be lost in that sector as well. But can you recession-proof yourself? You could, as they say “choose not to participate.”

Let’s get deep for a second. For some of us it seems like we’ve been in a recession-like mentality for much longer than the markets and the media have told us. This is the time to snap out of it. Get out there and make things happen for yourself and your family. Why now? Because everyone’s hurting on some level. It doesn’t matter what kind of income you have–you’re feeling it. For your part, in looking to reinvent yourself or retool your skills, other people will simply think that you’re ambitious. And why not tell them that you are? Believe it.

As I watched CNN, looking at the mortified faces of the banking executives asking for a government bailout, I thought: “Hmm … I pay taxes, I’m trying to make ends meet, I can’t get a loan, and folks all around me are hustling to stay afloat. Maybe … I need a bailout program from the government too!” Don’t you wish things were that simple? I think we’re all learning that Wall Street is not Main Street, or Csar Chvez Boulevard or Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, as in some of our more colorful communities. The truth is you can bail yourself out.

In these times, we have to believe in ourselves. Sergio de la Mora, a nationally acclaimed transformational leadership expert and pastor of Cornerstone Church in National City, California ( who ministers to thousands weekly, said it best: “When you’re down, you must unleash the power of hope. You must believe, you must expect, and you must be willing to receive. Difficult times bring out the best in us, or the worst. The challenges that you’re facing today can only be overcome by increasing your confidence in yourself, in your talents and abilities, and your hope for a better future.”

When you decide that perhaps this will be the best time to learn a new skill, trade, change careers, or go to college, tell folks that you intended to do so. Talk about the importance of continuing to learn throughout your life. Read and talk about personal development and growth and about building wealth–not just making money. Talk like all the other people who are also freaked out by the economic downturn news yet are able to see their difficult situation as a temporary one because they are taking steps to make something happen in their lives. They network, they find a mentor, and they put themselves out there to find new jobs, careers, interests, and skills. If you approach it this way you may not have a need to explain past failures, changing from one dead-end job to another just trying to survive because now you can reinvent or rededicate yourself–you can “retool” your skills, perhaps get into an entirely different career, or start your own business. Maybe get some specialized training and even extend your unemployment benefits while you take advantage of subsidized workforce training programs and other resources out there. Why not? You, my friend, can overcome hard times because you are “the brand” to be discovered. Believe in yourself and promote your talents intelligently while ignoring the naysayers, aka haters, around you. Follow your heart and invest in something that need not fall during hard economic times: Invest and believe in yourself.

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About the author:Linda Caballero Sotelo, president and COO of Toltec Media, is a marketing consultant and freelance

Car ClubLowriders Make A Wish Come TrueCity Style Car Club’s Laredo, Texas, Chapter recently reached its goal and accomplished their mission of making Enrique’s wish come true. After months of planning, City Style, along with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas and the City of Laredo’s Mayor Raul G. Salinas, held this charitable event.

Enrique Collazo is a 5-year-old boy who is suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia. Enrique’s one heartfelt wish was to go to Disney World, which he was able to do in July. Thanks to the great efforts and commitment from City Style, not only did this leukemia-stricken boy get his wish, but it came with cars, bands, and a zoot suit.

On Saturday, as everyone who promoted the event began preparing for the car show, Lowrider magazine’s Aztec Dos tractor trailer was approaching the city limits. City Style and other local and out of town car clubs got in line with their rides to follow the rig on its route to the showgrounds. It ended up becoming the first and largest convoy in the city of Laredo ever. Cars, trucks, motorcycles, law enforcement, and event-sponsored vehicles joined in to follow the procession. Thanks to Laredo’s police and constable officers the ride went smoothly into town. This was the first time Lowrider magazine was received in the city with a convoy.

The show was held at the indoor/outdoor Civic Center of Laredo on Sunday, July 20. For the first time in the history of Laredo, Lowrider magazine staged an event there. This open car show attracted many out-of-towners and provided music, food, fun, and excitement for Laredo’s citizens both young and old. This show was a huge success for both participants and spectators who came from all over Texas. Some of the clubs that participated in support were: Valley Life, Border Skulls, Border Aces, Artistic Few, Siempre Unidos, Reflektions, Los Carnales, Nice Dreams, Outsiders, Vintage, Ramon Customs, Low Life, Los Fantasmas del Bajito, United City’s, Amistad, Unleashed, Southern Style, and Brown Impressions.

The event promised to be a great success and it surely was. We’d like to extend a special thanks to all the musicians who donated their time for this event and provided entertainment for all: Fish y Los Favoritos, Los Medina Boyzz, Edgar Vasquez y Sus Muchachos, and Corpus Christi’s Boni Mauricio y Los Maximos. City Style Car Club also made another of Enrique’s wishes come true when they brought Los Garcia Brothers of Eagle Pass, Texas, one of Enrique’s favorite groups, out to perform. People were dancing in the hot 110-degree weather. This show also made history in Laredo because it attracted the most entrants in any car show held in the area with 185 participants that attracted more than 8,000 spectators. City Style became the first club with such a short lifespan to hold a show of this magnitude for a Make-A-Wisher. The whole month of July was proclaimed City Style Lowrider Car Club month in Laredo, Texas, by the mayor since they were able to make Enrique’s wishes come true.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. City Style Lowrider Car Club is a club you want to commend for helping out their community and for their unity, respect, commitment, pride, and promotion of the lowrider movement. This Making Enrique’s Wish Come True Benefit Car Show was proof of how lowrider car clubs are committed to giving back to the community.