2018, the year of great change

I think my life changed more in 2018 than it ever has previously.

It has been a roller coaster ride with many twists, turns, and plot changes. Almost everything that happened was unexpected. Before I reflect on the goals of 2019, I want to summarize the year of change in chronological order.

  1. We sold our start up company. It was the biggest year of financial growth. We still worked for the company under the guise of things staying pretty much the same. My husband Paul started the business 20 years earlier and I joined him 11 years ago. Together we worked hard to build and sell a successful business venture.
  2. We were able to pay off all of our debt.
  3. Our insurance changed. We changed doctors and dentists.
  4. We crossed our first continent outside of our own off of our bucket list. We spent 10 days touring Thailand.
  5. A close friend was diagnosed with cancer.
  6. We invested in real estate and moved to a new town. We sold our little house that we lived in for 18 years and moved into a mansion with an indoor pool. We said good-bye to our old neighbors and everything we knew.
  7. My daughter Angel and I visited Nevada for the first time for a music competition. I checked off visiting my 31st state.
  8. Angel started dating Dan.
  9. We said good-bye to the 16 year old daughter of close friends who died tragically in a car accident.
  10. I ran my first trail marathon, the 4th marathon that I ran. We spent the weekend of my birthday sleeping in a tent. It rained 2 inches the first night. The next morning I got up and ran a marathon. It was so challenging that instead of saying that I am never going to run again, I asked myself what more I could do. I decided that the following year I would try a 50k.
  11. My mom retired and started to have issues with her health.
  12. My daughter Arabella started going to a new school in a different school district.
  13. Arabella got her first job and started driving.
  14. My son Alex and his girlfriend broke up after dating almost a year.
  15. My son had his car damaged the same day he got it and the perpetrators are facing criminal charges.
  16. My husband turned 50 and had a health scare.
  17. My son’s friend started staying with us. We hoped to help him turn his life around, but he stole my ruby ring and is no longer welcome here.
  18. After touring a college for music, my son dropped out of band. The future that I had played out for him is gone. I’m not sure he will go on to school at all.
  19. My daughter’s beta fish died that she got in high school. Now Angel is a junior in college and is not planning on coming home after Christmas break.
  20. The people that we were renting office space from sold their property. We stayed in the same building, but said good-bye to the people we knew there.
  21. We left our church. Again, we said good-bye to the people we knew for the past decade.
  22. I lost my job unexpectedly. The new owners decided to move operations to a new location. I said good-bye to two long term employees that I managed. I also had to say good-bye to clients and colleagues.
  23. We closed our office and had to be out by the end of the year. My husband and two sales people are still employed and work out of their homes. I am wondering what to do next…

I think that pretty much sums up the year of change.

My last day of work

Friday was my last day of work. I thought that I would be feeling down like I did most days leading up to the last day. Instead I felt relief, and a lightness of spirit. I did end up inviting some close friends over that evening. Two out of three couples came out for my pity party. Two out of three ain’t bad for short notice over the holidays.

I invited out the brewer and his wife, the psychologist, whom I will call Rhett and Sue. Sue told me that she gave my name to her boss as someone who was interested in talking to the parents and siblings of autistic children. I still feel interested in helping people through similar experiences that I’ve had. I want to write a book. But first I want to go through all of my journals. It is going to be a slow and tedious process.

We also invited over Tim and Cara. Cara just wrote a book and now that I have more time, I offered to read it critically. She encouraged me to write my own book. Right now Cara’s job is also on the line. She would love to be a full time author. Paul and I thought of starting a sailing business with Tim and Cara. Paul is working on his captain’s license as we speak. It’s crazy, but we are thinking of starting another business together.

I’m not sure where the future leads right now, but I know that these other couples are involved in it in some way. We had a lot of fun Friday night and did a lot of laughing. I felt like whatever happens everything would be alright.

And so the journey starts…

New beginnings

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

With each and every day, it has become easier to adjust to losing my job. There are some positive things about it. I will have less stress from work. Plus I am planning on taking some time off to do all of the things I have been putting off since I didn’t have time because I was working over the past decade.

Just think of all the things I could do with an extra 130 hours a month!

I am planning on spending time with my parents putting together a genealogy record for my family. It seems like yesterday that I was walking around cemeteries and talking to family, since deceased, with my grandma. Next year grandma will be gone 10 years and now is the time to start the process with my parents. I also want to take all of the old family photos and put them into digital format which is a huge undertaking.

I want to write two books, one about growing up with a violent autistic sibling and the other about Paul’s journey from rags to riches. I don’t care if they are bestsellers, I just want the family history documented if only for future generations. Maybe I’ll take some writing classes. At the very least, I will have time to read a few books.

I want to double my time at the gym. I want to be ready to run a 50k.

I want to take a photography class and at the minimum take more photos.

I want to learn how to cook different ethnic dishes. I want to eat healthier. Maybe I will brew my own beer.

I want to spend more time with my children. Alex is doing so much better, but there still have been a few bumps in the road. Arabella wants me to audition for the next community theater show with her. I want to be a better singer and dancer.

I am starting to let things go. My staff and I had a combined 20 years of experience that we used as a team to handle operations. It is hard to hand over operations to a staff I deem as inexperienced. Although it is terribly frustrating, it is nice to hand over all of the resulting customer service issues to them. It’s not my problem anymore.

Today my daughter Angel’s beta fish that she got when she was in high school died. Now she is a junior in college. I flushed the last remaining shred of her childhood good-bye. But I will be able to spend more time with her when she is home and take more trips out to see her when she is gone.

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

 

 

Hell week

Last week I lost my job.

Last week Sunday hell week started with a nine hour practice at the theater.

We sold our business earlier this year and up to this point everything has stayed relatively the same. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I didn’t have time to prepare for this in any way. I didn’t have plans to quit working anytime soon.

Then last week happened. Paul and I found out a couple of days before corporate flew in. We met them out for coffee on a brisk chilly sunny morning. I didn’t want to meet them. I didn’t want the small talk about the weather. I wanted the day to never happen or be over before it began. I faced the day with dread. I had nightmares about it when I could actually sleep.

It was the hardest day I ever faced at work. I had to go to the office that morning and watch my staff get fired right before Christmas. They didn’t do anything wrong which made it harder. I felt like I betrayed them. They had to immediately pack up their belongings and leave. I didn’t have time to prepare for the pain of firing long time employees, people that I saw day in and day out for years. Employees that I talked to more than some of my family.

I understand why it happened logically. Corporate wanted to consolidate all of operations into one centralized office. It makes a lot of business sense, but it did not stop my tears from falling.

I have been doing this for over ten years now. I feel really lost like I am losing a part of who I am. Who am I? My job will be gone and my kids will be out of the house soon too.

I thought about my time here, building a business alongside my husband. I thought about the friends I’ve made throughout the years. I thought about the clients that I will miss. I thought of the conferences I attended, the files I stockpiled, the work relationships I built during the 15,000 hours I dedicated my life to this. I feel a great sense of grief, of loss. Maybe if I saw it coming months before it would’ve been easier to adjust?

I feel unsettled, anxious, and depressed. Paul and our sales staff will stay on. My department is closing. I am the only employee staying on to make the transition of our operations to the central office. By the end of the month, our office here will close and I will be out of a job.

I wish I could say that the transition has been seamless, but it hasn’t. The central office has a different way of running things than we do. It is neither right nor wrong, just different. This has upset some of our clients which has been upsetting to me. I don’t have any control over this. I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t ready. I am trying to let it go and not let it bother me, but it is easier said than done.

I feel like I am getting a divorce. Paul and I spent half of our married life working together. But it isn’t over, Paul and I have plans in the future to start another business together. This all had to come to an end sometime, I just wasn’t ready for it to end now.

That night Paul and I went to hell week rehearsal like nothing happened. Paul has the lead part in the show. Could he do it? Could I go on stage and smile when I spent half of the day crying? Acting like everything was okay was one of the toughest performances we had to give. We couldn’t tell the cast before we were able to tell close friends and family.

Somehow we were able to pull it off, but last week certainly gave a new meaning for hell week.

What now???

Sometimes life can be stressful. When I am not busy at work, raising teenagers, or slaying my demons…I try to relax.

Work requires me to make a lot of high level decisions that effect other people’s lives. Someday I will tell you about it all, but not today. Last Friday we had a new client do some work with us and he didn’t understand the whole process of what we do. So rather unexpectedly he conference called me and chewed me out saying that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for over a decade and he is a brand new client…and I don’t know what I’m doing??

After 30 minutes of trying to explain the process, which he wasn’t listening to, I was pissed off and wanted to tell him to take his business somewhere else. But I remained fairly cool and calm. I sent him an email with answers to frequently asked questions. But that still did not satisfy him.

I ended up sending him over to my husband Paul. Paul makes higher high level decisions and often deals with difficult clients, makes collection calls, and other stuff I couldn’t stomach doing. When the guy started to complain about me, Paul said that I am his operations manager and also his wife. Shut the guy right up.

Running a business together can be very stressful. Sometimes we have to make hard calls. I have lost a lot of faith in people. Sometimes it feels like it is us against the world. I think working together has made us closer as a couple. We make a great team both at home and at work. I can’t complain because we make an excellent living. But that doesn’t make it any less stressful.

Although most of the time I enjoy what I do, work is a big stressor in my life. I try to relax, usually unsuccessfully, over the weekend.

On Saturday morning I received a phone call from a parent of Alex’s friend saying that she wanted to come over with her husband and talk to us right away.

I could almost feel my ulcer burn. What now????

Fortune cookie wisdom # 16

You will be unusually successful in business.

My husband Paul seems to get this fortune cookie every other time he gets Chinese food. My typical response is to laugh then throw the fortune away. It is true though. If Paul is a natural at anything, it’s business.

The strange thing is that I started to get this fortune. I don’t know if they made extra of these fortunes at the fortune cookie shop or what. Then I thought…why not write about it?? Maybe if I stop throwing the fortune away, I won’t get it over and over again and can get new ones. Hence more writing inspiration..

I don’t consider myself to be successful at business. I don’t come up with the ideas. I certainly don’t sell anything. I am more of the diligent working sidekick behind the scenes. I have been working with my husband somewhere around 10 years now.

This year we sold our successful start up business, but continue working as employees. We are planning on retiring in another 5 years and starting another business in an unrelated field. We both decided that we would go totally crazy if we didn’t have something to do with our time.

Paul just signed up to work on his captain’s license. We are planning on starting a sailing charter business. We’ve already had people approach us for sailing trips. This is not going to be a big lucrative money making business. It would be a hobby business.

Right now, it seems like I don’t have any time. When I am not working, I am cleaning my house, doing laundry, spending time with family, worrying, running, or blogging. If I am lucky, I can read a couple of books a year for fun or travel. Unfortunately, I have to be really selective with my free time. I have more things that I want to do than time to do them.

But in less than 3 years time, the kids will all be out of the house. In five years, I’ll retire. Maybe then I’ll have the time to do everything I want to do.

Maybe I will write a book, take a dance class, start working on genealogy again, do more traveling, write music, paint… The possibilities are endless..

Fortune cookie wisdom #15

Sometimes…money costs too much.

Money…along with sex, religion, and politics are the topics I was taught not to talk about.

Money…how can it cost too much??

I think greed costs too much. If you spend your life chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of having close relationships with others, in my opinion the price is too steep.

But wait, aren’t all rich people greedy?? Absolutely not! Greed can take the hearts of the rich and poor alike. There are a lot of rich people that do wonderful things with their money. If you don’t have money, you could be generous with your time.

But, doesn’t money buy happiness? It certainly can make your misery a lot more comfortable. My husband always said that the only ones he hears say that money doesn’t buy happiness are poor. It’s unusual because he has lived his life at both ends of the money spectrum. It gives a different perspective.

Paul is the type of guy that if we go on vacation, he spends a lot of time talking to the servers or staff. He can relate to almost everyone. Neither one of us feels comfortable being served. We like to clean our own house, mow our own lawn, and pull our own weeds.

I think we all tend to get used to our mode of living. If our fortune changes in either direction, it can be rather shocking.

For us, there is always the ‘can’t afford’ warning bell going off in our heads. It’s strange to live in a big house. Our electric bill this last month cost more than our mortgage on our old house. The more you have, the more everything costs.

I grew up middle class. I had a rich uncle that paid for my college tuition. My aunt told me to never tell anyone that he was paying for my college. There seemed to be a certain hush hush involved in having money. Like it’s some big shame to work hard and be successful.

In fact if people talk about how much money they are earning or how rich they are, I mistrust them. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But how come we don’t feel that way when someone tells us how broke they are?

I admit, though, I am jealous of a few rich friends that don’t have to work. It must be really nice to be able to devote all of your time to your hobbies. Maybe it would get old, boring, or be unfulfilling. I tell myself that often while I am at work on a beautiful summer day.

Although I’ve lived in my dream house almost two months now, I posted zero pictures on Facebook. I’ve told only the people that I’ve had to. I live a very secretive life and I like it that way. Money makes me feel very uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit. It’s a huge adjustment from the way we grew up and how we have been living up to the point of selling our business.

It has always been us and them. Now we are not us anymore, we are them. How would you act? I don’t want people that liked me to love or hate me. I don’t want to be treated differently. I just want things to stay the same, but they’re not. So I tend not to talk about it even though it is part of my story now. I’m afraid to be honest with you about money because it has been so ingrained in me that it is taboo. But who really cares?? There are people out there smarter, richer, and better looking than me. That is okay, I guess.

I think most people know where other people are at even if we don’t talk about it. Even if you never posted about money, I could guess where you are at just by the things you post about.

But, isn’t money the root of all evil? It depends on how you use it. There is a lot of weight on the little piece of paper that doesn’t grow on trees. And sometimes it costs too much…

 

Like a cactus in the sea

I’m not 100% unpacked yet, but I want to start getting back into the swing of things. I’ve made a lot of progress.

I am going to try to get back on a regular blogging schedule.

I even went for a run today for the first time in over 2 weeks!

So what if the house is not finished yet? I have a lifetime to unpack because I am never moving again!

I have so many things to tell you and they are piling up higher in my mind than the boxes in my garage. I never finished my whole fortune cookie thing and I’ve had some moral dilemmas that I wanted to run by you.

Moving has been a big adjustment…literally!

Our new house is 4 times the size of our old house.

The garage itself is 3 times the size of our old house.

You don’t know how many times I’ve set down my phone only to have to search a half an hour to find it. Over the weekend, I set down my beer and by the time I found it, it was warm. I won’t even tell you how long it takes to find my husband and kids. By the time I find them, I forgot why I was looking for them in the first place. There are still several things that are lost, but at least my son found his wallet.

My kids think that all of their friends should move in. I’ve had more people stay overnight in my house the one week that I’ve lived here then I’ve had for several years in the old house. Plus they leave things behind like clothing and broken phone cases. Maybe I should set up a lost and found box next to the pool. Oh, and they all left behind their swimming suits. But they used every single towel I have in the house.

My kids get upset that I don’t want to have people over every single day and night. Apparently that makes me a selfish person to want the house to myself (or just my family) every once in awhile.

My house has become like Hotel California. Once they come in, they never seem to be able to leave. We had friends over Sunday night. They had so much fun that they stayed until almost midnight on a work night. I ended up falling asleep on the couch.

Even the movers loved my house. They said it was the most beautiful house they have ever seen. They took pictures to show their significant others. They said they hope they win the lottery someday so they can afford a house like mine.

It makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty in a way which is probably why I didn’t tell a lot of people that I was moving. I feel bad being excited or talking about the new house in front of others. It makes me feel like I am talking on and on about how wonderful it is having 3 children when the person I’m talking to has been dealing with infertility for decades.

I wish I had what you have.

But they didn’t see the years, decades of struggling…the perseverance that we didn’t know if it would pay off…putting every penny and pouring everything we had into this business. They don’t know me. They don’t know that the first half of my life was a living hell.

They don’t see my husband as the boy that started out in the inner city of Chicago without a dad, born to a poor single teenage high school drop out. The boy that had a dream of starting a business…The boy from the projects that is now living in a mansion like some sort of celebrity rapper. How many others do you know with a similar story? I really don’t know of anyone else personally. But I do know it is possible.

So I watch as people I know and don’t know take pictures of my house to share with strangers.

Maybe you would like to see some pictures too. Sorry I didn’t ask. You could post the pictures on social media…show the kids, your neighbors, maybe even your cat.

Or maybe you don’t like me now. Maybe you view me as a greedy selfish rich bitch with a foo foo dog in my purse type.

Will it change me?

Maybe I’ll get used to it. I’m not sure how to respond or act.

Right now I feel like a cactus that has been thrown into the sea.

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

Fortune cookie wisdom #7

You will travel far and wide, both for pleasure and business.

I really love this one!

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

As of right now, I visited 32 out of 50 states. Of these states, I visited California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Tennessee for business. Next month I am planning on crossing Nevada off of my list.

It isn’t on my bucket list to visit all of the United States, although it would be nice. My plans are far more grandiose than that. I want to visit all of the continents. So far, I’ve crossed off North America and Asia. I plan to cross off South America and Europe within the next 5 years. I even warmed up to the idea of visiting Antarctica.

A couple of days ago, I visited my friend Jen. She recently found out that she has an aggressive type of terminal cancer. The prognosis is not good. Next month will be Jen and her husband’s 25th anniversary. They booked a trip to Hawaii to celebrate. It doesn’t look like they will be going. They wanted to go to Alaska for their 20th anniversary, but never did. Now it is too late.

I don’t want to travel for special occasions anymore. I want to travel because I want to travel. I told myself that after we got back from visiting Thailand for our 20th anniversary. Time is too short.

We couldn’t travel far when we first started out. We didn’t have the extra money. We were tied down to the business. More importantly, we didn’t have anyone to help with the kids. We were lucky if we were able to get away alone one weekend a year for many years.

My husband was 40 before he stepped foot on a plane for the first time. But once he did, we both decided that we would like to travel more.

We never went anywhere as kids, but our kids went to many places already.

We took the kids to Disney World, their first time on a plane.

We showed them a world of wonder that we never got to see growing up.

I guess the moral of the story is not to wait until it is too late to cross things off your bucket list.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to Asia. When the kids were in their middle childhood years, we traveled extensively around the state. We went tent camping to over a dozen different places, mainly state parks. We braved a couple ferocious storms. We biked many trails, went to nature programs, swam in many lakes, picnicked on gorgeous beaches, hiked through the woods, fished, and watched sunsets while the crickets chirped.

After Paul got into sailing, we started similar adventures on water.

 

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Take what you have and work with it..

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.