Article by Wendy McCance
There have been a lot of obstacles testing my strength that I’ve had to overcome in my life. The most difficult times I’ve endured occurred within the last ten years. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I now feel grateful the kids were old enough to understand what I had to work through. It was awful that they had to live through the hard times as well, but it made a positive impact on all of us in the end. Here’s how:
Losing my career, house, savings, going bankrupt, health issues that kept me from working outside of the home all occurred within a few years of each other. Each setback truly tested my ability to pull it together and get back to living the comfortable life I felt my family should have.
Each time I was delivered another blow, I could feel the kids watching my every move. They closely took notes and attempted to fully understand what was going on and how I was working through each situation. There were lots of questions and I answered everything honestly. They knew what are finances were and how much we were paying for all of the basic necessities.
In the beginning, I tried shielding them from all of the stress, but they are smart and the more I tried hiding the problems, the more worried they became. They knew something was wrong, but couldn’t understand what exactly. In the end it made the household more tense to brush the issues under the rug than to openly discuss what had happened and what was being done to correct each situation.
It helped to be open about our situation as there were many times we weren’t able to do things for the kids we used to do without blinking an eye. The most painful memory I have is remembering times we were unable to drive the kids to friends homes because we didn’t have enough money to use up any extra gas (this was also during the years when gas was nearing $5.00 per gallon). It just destroyed me that the most basic request had to be denied because we couldn’t afford it. I never saw myself raising the kids this way. I never thought I would be denying them the pleasure of being kids playing with their friends.
The hardest part of losing my job, house and health was that it all happened so quickly. It was one thing after another. For several years I felt like I was drowning. Each time I started to get back on track, the next problem came up and these weren’t small issues. These were life changing challenges that cut you me the core.
When we went through bankruptcy we tried working with the bank to save our home to no avail. We used up all of our savings trying to get back on our feet, but it didn’t help our situation. We had no car debt, credit card debt or loans other than the house payment. We were forced into claiming bankruptcy because we could no longer afford to pay $2,700 a month to keep the house. My husband and I had both worked for the same company that closed its doors so there was no income to fall back on. We ended up losing our home and a rental property we owned when we went bankrupt.
After we lost the house and found a new place to live, I went back to school to start working on a new career. I had my Associate Degree and went to the community college to study to become a paralegal assistant. I paid for school without taking out any loans and excelled in my classes. I found a job as a receptionist in a law firm while I was finishing my classes and then the bottom fell out again.
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and sitting for hours at work and in class was so difficult for me that by the end of the week I was in excruciating pain. I was so exhausted from working what was normal hours for most people that I slept all the time when I wasn’t working. I was miserable.
I ended up leaving the law firm and cried quite a bit about what I could possibly do for a job. Thank goodness I had no school debt, but I had still wasted money on a program that I would never be able to take advantage of. I had to figure out a way to work from home and I needed an income right away.
This was when I started blogging. Not because I thought anything would come of it, but I needed to get my feelings out. I needed to figure out what to do next and blogging helped me sort through my feelings.
It’s a funny thing when you look back and see the road that got you to the place you are currently at. Each thing you do in life doesn’t seem to connect to the next event, but somehow it all unfolds and becomes a picture of a path perfectly laid out.
Writing the blog made me realize how much I loved writing and how maybe, possibly I could do something with blogging. The blog led to testing out advertising opportunities and product reviews. I began getting offers to write for companies which opened some more doors and then a stray comment led to a breakthrough.
I asked one of my clients when they first hired me why they decided I was the one they wanted to work with. They were very well-known in the community and had numerous connections. I knew they must know some terrific writers, yet, they picked me. I found out that the reason my client chose me was because I understood social media. You see I promoted the blog on as many social media platforms as I could find. I also wrote about everything I was learning about social media. Because I shared so much information and was visible on so many social media sites, my client knew I understood social media. They said that it wasn’t common to find a writer who could also do some social media work and that it was a skill they needed in a writer.
That innocent question led to a major development for me. I realized I should promote myself as a writer and social media strategist. I was having incredible luck gaining readers to my blog, clients who wanted to work with me and I was flooding several pages of search results because of my efforts. It was a game changer.
These days I still have no debt other than a house payment but now I have a savings account again. My goal is to have the house paid off as soon as possible. I am still very open talking with the kids about our finances.
The kids have seen good times, the worst times and the best times again. They watched me create a career out of thin air, refuse to give up no matter how bad our situation got and they have seen what my ambition and refusal to give in to fear has done for my life.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. I was served another blow last year with a cancer diagnosis. Although I have had some emotional struggles dealing with this latest issue, I felt extremely grateful to have my own business working from home. I don’t have to fear not making it to a job or even losing my job. I can work hard when I feel well and if I get sick down the road and am unable to work, I will take a break until I am doing better. But, I will always have a job!
The kids have learned that following their own dreams and being in charge of their own destination is the most empowering thing they can ever give themself. Having my own business and being able to work from home has given me many freedoms. I get to decide how much money I want to make. I don’t have a boss telling me what my income will be. It’s truly empowering. I can take time off when I need to without worrying about the time getting approved. If I need to go to an event for the kids or a doctor’s appointment or just want to catch up over a leisurely lunch with a friend I can. It’s an incredible way to live.
Another benefit of having my own business is deciding who I want to work with. I am picky and will only work with clients I enjoy and who I believe in. I do my best work when I enjoy my clients, I care for them like family and would do anything for them. It’s another awesome part of being my own boss.
After all of the miserable times, I came out on top. I feel like I won the lottery. I love my job, clients and the flexibility it affords. I make an incredibly good living too. In fact, I never dreamed I would be making this kind of money as a writer, but it’s worked out very well.
So, the example of living life that I have taught the kids is:
- How much money it takes to pay for basic expenses. Whenever I took the kids grocery shopping, they were surprised at how expensive it was to stock a kitchen for a week.
- The terrible times won’t last forever as long as you work hard and believe in your own abilities.
- Owning your own business can give you tremendous freedom. You decide how much you want to make, who you work with and how many hours you work.
- They should dream big because anything is possible if they want it badly enough.
- Taking care of your body is extremely important. Without your health, you can lose everything.
- Always aim to be debt free. It’s much easier to bounce back from a setback if you aren’t burdened with debt. Being debt free makes it easier to live a better quality of life.
- Never let fear, insecurity or doubt rule your world. Live with confidence, don’t second guess yourself and ignore those moments when fear could keep you from making a positive move. Looking back, you’ll see that the worries you had about taking a chance were all for nothing.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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