It was pretty shocking when I realized the following facts about 2012. I had moved 11 times. My car logged over 18,000 miles. I have driven across country twice. With foreclosure looming, I sold my home for a pittance of what I paid for it. When the bank refused to refinance, my shiny new car was repossessed. I’ve sold many costly and irreplaceable pieces of jewelry for next to nothing.
There’s a small consolation knowing that I’m not alone in these struggles. I’m reminded of this a daily basis through the news. One doesn’t have to look very far to see someone else in either the same situation, or God help them, worse.
At this point, it doesn’t really matter how I got here. I can tell you that all of my decisions in the past 12 months were made to survive. Well, I’ve made a decision to T-H-R-I-V-E. Again. Yes, believe it or not, I used to thrive. The first definition of thrive is:
to grow vigorously: flourish — Merriam-Webster
For approximately the first 30 years of my life, all was copacetic. Much of this was a direct result of my environment. I was fortunate. My parents made sure that I had what I needed to succeed. As a result, I was afforded a lot of opportunities and was smart enough to take advantage of them.
The second definition of thrive is:
to gain in wealth or possessions: prosper — Merriam-Webster
For a long time, that’s exactly what I did. My personal and professional life flourished. I worked in three of the nation’s most respected p.r. agencies, then for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, had prestigious clients, drove expensive cars, worked and lived at the “right” addresses. Success came to me so easily I never even needed a resume. Jobs with dizzying incentives like open expense accounts and limousines, landed in my lap. Having financial problems was an idea so foreign to me, that it seemed an impossibility. I was definitely thriving.
Then came 2008 and The Market Crash. Thank you, His Royal Highness of The Assholes, Jamie Dimon!
photo: Michael O’Neill
In the last four years, my personal wealth and lifestyle were decimated. It’s an interesting phenomenon. You wake up one morning feeling secure in yourself and your future, and in an instant, everything is gone. It is an astonishing shift. So much so that it has taken me this long to come to terms with it, but thankfully, I have.
The third definition of thrive is:
to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances — often used with on — Merriam-Webster
Like many of you, this is a time of the year that I annually use to reflect. Although, honestly, ever since this summer and the three months spent on the back seat of my car, I’ve pretty much done nothing else. When you don’t have a full-time occupation, analyzing how you got there and what is it going to take to get out of there becomes a preoccupation.
I’m not much into New Age thinking, although I was a fan of it. From observation, It’s my conclusion that you can’t always alter reality by having a positive mindset. Most New Age proponents have the idea that you can avoid being a victim just by not “pulling in” negative situations and people. In my opinion, that’s a load of crap. My sister, Doktor Hopper, agrees. She calls it “magical thinking“.
For example, if it were true, no crimes would be committed against innocent children. Did the 20 kids slaughtered in Newtown “draw it to them” because they were not thinking the “right thoughts“? Come on. Sometimes bad things just happen, and you can’t do much about it other than pick up the pieces and go on.
This is exactly the conclusion I’ve come to, that despite my circumstances and what’s happened to me, I am going to thrive again. How can I be so sure that I will? Because every time I think it’s too hard, or that I’m too old, or too poor, I think about my parents and all of my ancestors who are up there in Heaven saying: “That a, girl! Don’t you give up! You’ve got what it takes and you know it!” I also recall all the times that people who truly know me and my work have told me how much respect they have for it and me. When all of this isn’t enough, I think of Ling. I just can’t give up because my dog is counting on me to get my shit together.
How am I going to achieve this?
I’m getting back to basics. I was successful in the past for a good reason. I relentlessly pursued it with a fever. I had to. I have some pretty big shoes to fill when I think about my family. An aside, my father was a huge Napolean Hill fan. He gave me The Law of Success in prep school, I practically memorized it. It’s a good book if you’re looking for a model of excellence.
So that all of you can hold me accountable, I’m going to: a) share the specifics on how I intend to hoist myself out of the sand pit I’ve landed in; and b) give a weekly update here on my progress.
My 2013 plan includes:
First and foremost, I am going to stop wasting my time worrying and turn my fears over to God, who is infinite with solutions. Like Doktor Hopper always says: “Let go, and let God.” Or as my best friend also wisely said to pray: “I give my worries to you Lord, and I look forward to your blessings.” Don’t get me wrong, I pray all the time, but I also worry constantly. This has to stop, it’s an energy thief.
I am also going to make sure that I have some fun every day. Doktor Hopper is a BIG proponent of this. To say that I haven’t been having much fun these past four years is an understatement at best.
Every weekday morning my alarm is going to go off. No matter how much pain I’m in, I’m going to haul my ass out of bed and get going. Yes, I did this January first, and today too! My daily schedule is going to include a continuing job search, but again I’ll be honest. This is Maine, it’s the middle of winter. We are a tourist-driven economy. Tourists are here from May through Labor Day. I’ve already applied at numerous local businesses and am checking the papers every week, and it’s not looking good. The search is now focused on freelance writing/editing/branding/events, whatever!
I’m going to eat more carefully. That means more vegetables, whole grains and less animal protein. I’d like to drop 15-20 pounds this year. This would bring me close to where I was before the near fatal accident that (because of steroid injections for pain management) ultimately added 100 pounds to my slender frame. Beyond the obvious benefits, I want to take really good care of myself so that I’ll have a strong reservoir to draw from.
I’m also going to do something physical every day. It’s not realistic for me to commit to a daily walking schedule again. (I used to walk 4.5 miles a day.) This is Maine and Nor’easters happen, but I will at least do stretches or SOMETHING.
With regard to my personal life, I am in a re-evaluation process of my friendships. There are some people who proved to me that they are true friends. Others not so much. They were happy to siphon what they could when times were good and now that the well is dry, they’re revealing their lack of character. It’s time to release them. I’m a stalwart friend and I deserve the same.
I am going to write every day even if I am barely functioning as a result of pain. I have to for my mental and fiscal health. A friend of mine on Twitter is looking for an accountability partner, I told her that I’m in!
I am going to reduce the mountain of stuff that I have amassed. Step number one is start selling any desirable items on Craigslist and/or eBay. I had planned to do this last month, but some things got had me sidetracked like: moving out of Doktor Hopper’s; into a roommate share, 13 car loads from storage; and then back to DH’s when I couldn’t get the rent together for December at the share. A note here, in order to pay October and November’s rent, I had sold a lot of jewelry.
All of the moving left me with debilitating pain from sciatica, which needless to say, put the brakes on getting much of anything accomplished. Also, I’ve been procrastinating about this because honestly, it’s depressing to have to sell more cherished possessions, but I know I have to. At the same time, I need to reduce an enormous and mostly unnecessary amount of papers and files. Out with the old baggage on all levels.
I’m going to keep reading. I got back into reading during the latter part of 2012, and it felt great! Recently a blog I read suggested setting a reading goal each year. It also suggested making the goal manageable. I’m going to set a goal of 12 books for the year. Hopefully, I’ll surpass that, but at least I know that it’s doable.
So, watch out world. Here I come, again!
I’m open to ideas and to hearing how perhaps you’ve dealt with similar challenges. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put it out there that we are still in deep trouble financially.
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