Have you ever had this urge to scrap everything and do something entirely different with your life? Something so different it rates as impossible rather that merely improbable. I have done this. I met someone and after only six months of dating, and most of that dating was via Skype, I married the guy. It didn’t work out for me and I’m faced with rebuilding my life,but I don’t regret taking the risk. I only regret that I didn’t manage the risk a bit better. I am the textbook reason prenuptial agreements need to exist. But…I took the risk, it failed, but I don’t regret the experience and adventure that it was at all. My dream was to travel and live abroad. I did that. In the process, I learned a ton about how to schedule flights so that you never miss one, which airports to avoid and which are better for making connections. I learned how to schedule a trip across the pond (either direction) in order to minimize jet lag. I’m still working on learning to travel light, but I’ve made vast improvement in that area over the last year. Most importantly, I’ve gone from thinking I should maybe give up my dreams to being confident that they will come to pass no matter how outlandish, impossible or impractical they might seem to me now. I mean, I’ve had plenty of dreams over the last six years come true. Why should that momentum end now? Read the rest of this entry
I have a friend I’ve know for quite some time who is an executive coach. This man makes a living coaching top executives at companies to improve outcomes (and I imagine this means profits) for the organization. He makes more money in one gig than I make in several years. He’s probably made and lost more money over the years than I will see in several lifetimes. As I type this, he is involved in putting together a deal that will allow him to quadruple his income and expand his business. He’s doing this at a time in his life when he should be (or most people are considering being) retired. He doesn’t punch a time clock. His office is in his home or in a coffee shop or cigar shop nearby. He lives in a tower and drives an Audi. He controls his time, his life and mostly his levels of stress. He does what he wants, when he wants with no demands imposed on his life other than those he chooses for himself. It’s a pretty good gig for supposedly being retired. But it hasn’t always been this way for him. He’s had some pretty rough moments along the way. Read the rest of this entry
I must confess. I have not been up late at night…much…lately. I’ve been sleeping very well and feeling good when I wake up the next day. Never mind that I was sick for two weeks with food poisoning. My bills are paid. There is food in my cupboards. And there’s a wee little bit to offset the unexpected thing that might come up. It is amazing how having a little extra cash in the bank and a car that is reliable changes one’s outlook on life. It’s also pretty incredible how that makes it easier to sleep. It’s been a good month. Or rather, a good couple of weeks. I can’t complain. And I won’t start now, even though, life has turned on the proverbial dime for me, once again. Read the rest of this entry
I read an article about the futility of hope a while back. I can’t remember where or what publication it was in. It may have been some random waiting room magazine I happened to be leafing through in the radiation center. Who knows? I just remember that the thesis of the article struck me as strange. The article suggested that there are times when hope is counterproductive. For example, in the case of a terminally ill person, holding out hope for a late-in-the-game cure actually prevents the person from doing the work ( emotionally, relationally, etc.) that they need to do to face their illness and prepare to exit this life. This was just one of several examples. I wish I could remember the article or even the magazine so I could provide you with it, but I just can’t. My explanation of it is weak.
I’m not so sure that I agree with the premise of this article. Hope keeps us going. The Bible says that without hope, the people perish. If we don’t have hope, then why don’t we just all drink the magical elixir and end it all right now? Hope keeps us moving forward, pushing onward, taking that next step even though we’ve been brutally beaten in life’s most recent battle.
On the other hand…I think I’m beginning to understand the value of giving up hope.
Sometimes, when we face our problems, troubles, or situation without hoping it will change, we end up finally arriving at a place where we can do what we couldn’t do before while we were hoping for different outcomes. I guess, in a way, hope can masquerade as denial. When this occurs, or at least lately,for me, when this occurs, I spend my time and energy on futile endeavors rather than facing facts and moving on with a different plan. My hope was in the wrong thing. My hope led me to deny the truth that was staring me in the face. Had I given up hope, I could have faced the truth and avoided a great deal of pain and confusion and, quite possibly, even some financial loss.
As I look back on the events of this year, especially of the losses this last month, and as I look toward the future, I have to admit that in certain areas of life there are certain goals and hopes I am beginning to give up on. I think of what this means for me, and quite honestly, there are aspects of this that trouble me greatly. It isn’t exactly the destination I wanted to arrive at, but I’m here, and at least for now I see no exit door. Admittedly, I’m not looking that hard, because I’ve given up the hope that if I found an exit, the room on the other side would be any better than the one I just left. I’ve given up hope that there are any rooms at all worth exploring. Just opening the door is distasteful idea to me. So, for now, I’m in this room in my life alone. I’ve given up hope that there will be any of a certain kind of companionship. Or, at least, I’m beginning to.
The more I ponder this, the more I think, this might not be such a bad thing. After all, now I can focus without distraction, on the things in my life that need my attention and energy. I can, at last, focus on doing some things I’ve always wanted to do. I haven’t given up on hope altogether. I believe there are better days ahead. However, I’m enjoying some pretty good moments and days now, and I don’t want to miss the joy in them by spending my energy hoping my situation in certain ways will change.
It’s an interesting thing. While I would never have chosen this for myself, I’m finding that in spite of the sadness and loneliness I do feel at times, I am happier, more content, and more at peace than I’ve been in a long time. This is not to say I feel great all the time. I don’t. But I think, no matter what, I’m going to be okay.
I wonder, have you ever felt like abandoning hope in something, and found that when you did, you were pleasantly surprised?
The days, months and the first few years immediately following my second divorce were, as I look back on it now, terrifying. To be honest, they were nothing compared to the angst and trauma I endured before deciding to seek a divorce from the nightmare that was my second marriage. I was terrified that I would not be able to survive on my own. I was even more concerned because I was responsible for four children, two dogs, a big mortgage on a small shack, a car payment, and student loans.
I soon learned that I did, indeed, have much to be frightened of. I didn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything scary enough to keep me in that marriage as long as my fear kept me there. I should have gotten out earlier. Looking back, there are a number of things, I should have done differently. Isn’t that the way it is with life? We look back thinking what we should have done differently, but we look back with different eyes than the ones we viewed the situation with in the first place. We look back, older and wiser, hopefully, because we learned from the experience.
I remember agonizing over finances. The ex was irresponsible with money, and, among other things, routinely overdrafted the checking account we used to pay bills. This became a downward financial spiral of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Add to this, the fact that he was hard on things. For example, cars he owned somehow always wore out quickly due to negligence and abuse thus requiring costly repairs. He was just as careless when it came to our home. By the time the marriage ended, I was over my head in debts I could not on my own salary pay, and living in a house which had been damaged by his misguided attempts to “improve” it. I bought a house that was a fairly nice ranch home in a quiet neighborhood. Three years later, you almost wouldn’t recognize the place. It looked like something out of hoarders. It was one disastrous unfinished project after another. I was left to dealt with the debt and clean up the mess.
All of this went down in 2007, and by the time my divorce was final, I was also upside down in a house that I’d never have the capital or cash flow to improve, let alone sell for what I still owed. I should have called uncle then. Instead, I went on a debt repayment plan and for the following six years I struggled to pay off debt, had no credit, no savings and more bills to pay than income coming in. I also had four very hungry children, and because my income was $50 over the guidelines, my children couldn’t qualify for free and reduced meals or any other assistance. I was awake many a night wondering which food pantry or church I could hit up next.
During this time, I also experienced blown engines on three cars (obviously not all owned by me at the same time), a failed rear-differential that dropped right out of the vehicle as I was pulling a load of firewood gleaned from a friend’s property. Of course, there were also the normal maintenance repairs and things that come up. I remember being so destitute that when gas went up to well over $4 a gallon a few years ago, we ended up walking to the store. Were it not for the assistance of friends and the kindness of strangers, I would not have survived those years. (Note: I didn’t mention the help of family members…that’s because there was none, though my first ex and his wife were angels to me on numerous occasions.) I should have walked away from it all early, applied the financial atomic bomb of Chapter 7, and then moved on.
Six years later, I’m finally getting a clue. That bomb has been set to detonate and I look back now and wonder, what was I so afraid of and why didn’t I do that much earlier?
I fought to keep my home, now I’m surrendering it. Here’s the kicker, I moved into a place that is much larger and newer than that house, has all the modern amenities (the house needed updating in the worst way), and costs less than half the house payment. I thought that I’d be hit hard with taxes this year due to not being able to use the house as a write off, but because of having a child in college, it turns out I’m getting money back. And I have to wonder why didn’t I do this earlier? Why did I try to stick that nightmare out?
You could say that if I’d known better I would have made different choices. I don’t think that’s true. I knew better about the bankruptcy. I had good information about the pros and cons. I still hung on trying to repay debt that both was not mine and which I wouldn’t be able to repay in three more lifetimes at the rate I was going. I think the real thing holding me back all that time was fear. I was afraid of the stigma of having a bankruptcy on my record. I was so worried about what it would do to my FICO score. I was worried that I wouldn’t survive.
I ask myself why I didn’t do all this earlier? Sometimes I can beat myself up about it because, after all, I’m six years older and as you get older you begin to realize that both time and money are precious commodities, but time is more valuable. I forget, that I’m looking back with different eyes than the ones I viewed the situation with first. My eyes now see that in this economy, these days, sometimes bankruptcy is not only the only option, it’s a very smart financial move. My eyes now see that if you live on a cash only basis, you don’t need to be ruled by the FICO. More than anything my wiser vision recognizes the strength and courage born of enduring. I know I will survive.
Sure, there will probably be things that come up down the road that terrify me (the second ex seeking a modification in the child support order comes to mind as it seems to portend a costly and futile legal battle). I also know that there are certain things that just won’t ever scare me again. Things do always have a way of working out, they aren’t always disastrous, and somehow I will survive. I’m wealthy in ways that can’t be measured in currency.