Being Here, Now

I never, ever had the inclination to start a blog.

In fact, I’m only here right now because I agreed to publish something daily, as part of a business/personal development challenge that I happen to care a lot about and am willing to put myself through whatever it takes to get to the other side of it.

I care about the challenge and its implications to my life A LOT.

I care because it could be the answer to a lot of life’s current problems for me and for my family.

When I say problems, I mean this in that I also realize how truly fortunate we are, in so many ways; so my perception of our problems may not be what those who may ever read this perceive as problems. It could be so much worse, I know. I KNOW. So please suspend any reactive inclination to be offended if you happen to have similar — or much worse — circumstances. At my age, it’s still a struggle not to compare….an ability I wish I could impart to my children while they’re young, in hopes it saves them years upon years of developing inferiority complexes with their peers.

One of my personal problems is that I can be massively indecisive yet I also have the ability to make really big decisions very quickly and go all in, without thinking too deeply of the potential for an unsuccessful outcome. “Ready, fire, aim” as a friend recently commented. That would be me, often….

But I also sort of see that as optimism and a willingness to try new things, and those are definitely not bad traits to possess.

In any case, I’m here right now as a direct result of that sort of decision-making, and I’m currently trying to dig myself — and, therefore, my family— out of it. Because we’re in deep. It feels like a midlife crisis in many ways.

I’ll take you all the way back to the beginning, even though it seems irrelevant because it was so many years ago; but it sheds light on who I am and how I function, and that’s part of why I’m stuck, literally, now.

I graduated from college summa cum laude with an English degree (don’t judge my writing; it was not my forte even then, but let’s discuss literature 24/7!). That distinction alone implies that I should be ultra-motivated and driven to succeed, don’t you think? I am, but evidently not in traditional ways. I didn’t know what I wanted to do next….grad school, probably, but for what? Burned out on schoolwork, I decided to take a few months to think about it, and, in some twist of fate, ended up meeting someone who inspired me to go into the spa services business (skincare, massage therapy, holistic methods, etc) as a way to make really good money while working essentially part-time hours. At 22, that sounded like a dream.

So I did. My parents were a little surprised by the choice, but supportive, thinking it was temporary until grad school.

Turned out, independent contractors in the salon/spa services field, especially practicing in a major city, can do really, REALLY well. It quickly became apparent that I didn’t want to stop what I was doing to go back to the grind of academia. I was working whenever I wanted— no one telling me when or what to do — and making more than I realistically even knew what to do with as a single, freshly graduated twenty-something. Who needs that advanced degree anyway?!? Granted, by this time, I was working more full-time hours than part-time, but I loved it and got much more return for my time than working full-time hours in a traditional employed situation, so I didn’t mind the schedule.

So that’s what I did…for many, many years. I was able to pay all my bills, enjoy shopping for whatever, whenever I wanted, saved like no other person I knew at my age at the time, invested in logical retirement plans (since clearly that’s not included with a company match when you’re self-employed)…And it was fabulous, for a really long time.

Then I got married; we bought a house, and, within a few years, started having kids. The things we do, right? And it was great. Except a little different in that my husband’s job had him on the opposite schedule of me, and that mine, by its nature, frequently entailed working evenings and Saturdays to accommodate clients’ schedules (i.e. maximizing income potential)…Neither of these circumstances were conducive to optimizing family time with children.

So one day — and here’s the pivot point — I made the clandestine mistake of suggesting that perhaps we should move closer to family — in another state! in another town I swore for YEARS I would NEVER, EVER live in! — so that we could live in a less expensive place, thereby (ostensibly) enabling me to be a stay-at-home mom while also having the luxury of occasional help with the kids when my husband was away so much during the week without having to pay a fortune in babysitters.

Did I mention that I tend to make big, emotionally-driven, life-altering decisions without always thinking things through?

We had stars in our eyes and ideas based on nothing in reality because we didn’t do our due diligence. We ASSUMED it was all going to be easier.

It turned out to be the worst financial decision we could’ve made.

First, we sold our house, which we should’ve kept if for nothing other than as a good investment property and security to come back if we needed to.

Second, my husband took a major pay cut because smaller areas like this don’t pay as much as bigger cities.

Third, guess what? I didn’t get to stay home with the kids after all. As soon as we felt just how different the income level here is than what we were used to, I had to scramble to find something, quickly. And it paid next to nothing. With a college degree. For way more hours than I ever used to work, even at my peak. And with the most toxic people I had ever encountered in my life, to this day.

It. Was. AWFUL.

I was angry and depressed and miserable and hateful and mad at the world and I gained about 50 pounds with a thyroid condition because I was such an emotional mess, and it was ALL MY FAULT. This would never have happened if I hadn’t brought up the subject of moving. This would never have happened if we’d just thought it through for a MINUTE!

And so we’ve struggled. And we continue to struggle. A feeling that I will never allow myself to get used to or become comfortable with. I refuse to accept that this is our life, so we just deal with it. NO.

By any interpretation, we have a wonderful life, yes. Our kids are happy; we have a lovely home; we have more than enough — more “stuff” than I even want, in fact…as I age, minimizing and downsizing is more and more appealing. And THANK GOD that through many twists and turns, I managed to get into a situation where I was able to work from home, finally, and *mostly* away from those negative, toxic people. However, that job eventually ended earlier this year, and even though it was truly a blessing in disguise for me emotionally, now….the financial situation feels even more dire with that loss of income.

The result of the choice five years ago to move cross-country is a massive financial burden that’s only grown bigger the longer we’ve fought to maintain our semblance of normalcy. We’ve also stayed here much longer than we should have; a choice we’ve made with family so close but one that is neither financially wise nor beneficial, to that end, to our core household. Still, don’t be misguided in thinking we’ve not sacrificed enough or given up enough conveniences to warrant any effectual difference in finances. We deal with it all the time. We make choices we can live with, and we make choices about what we can live without.

The thing is, I don’t want to have to choose anymore. I KNOW it doesn’t have to be this way. I lived with that wonderful, inexplicable freedom for many, many years before we moved here. And I want that comfort and security back. I want my freedom back. I want to be the happier, more carefree version I know that I still am. I want to be the “yes” mom for adventure and travel! I want my children and my husband to get my best self, always.

It’s up to me to fix this for my family and for myself.

I am driven, I am motivated, and I am not afraid to make major changes. I’m a doer. I DO THINGS. When I fully decide something, it is happening. It may take longer because I have my husband’s and my children’s feelings to consider about the changes I intend to make, but fixing this situation is my mission, come hell or high water. They will survive.

So, I’m here. A middle-aged mom and wife, trying to find my way again in business and in life, on my terms, in the middle of a designated challenge for a course I found online, in a decidedly non-traditional field, that promises to be the answer to everything I need if I just put the time and the work into it. I believe this to be true, so I will.

Because I’ve decided. And because I know I can.

Photo Cred: Jenn Evelyn-Ann Unsplash