Throwback to my experience with the Great Recession:
I didn’t think it would take me this long to get back to the story of why I dropped off the map in May (2011), but it’s been on my mind each day because of the FLOOD of feedback I received from my last post.
Part of my hesitation (besides not finding enough time to just knock it out) has been trying to decide which details and how much to share, because to share it all would only leave me time to live HALF a life.
One thing I’ve learned about life is that there’s always something more to learn – it’s a curse and a blessing all wrapped into one. You can never coast too long without life delivering a challenge with a call to grow, learn, and improve some more.
Having come to terms with our financial mistakes in 2006, it was time to put the principles back to the test, prove them true again, and conquer. My message during that time evolved, from “You can prosper!!” to “Profiting From your Losses” and “Making Sense out of Setbacks”. I found it much easier to address these topics because they had become the new theme for my life.
My best blog posts during those years were the ones I wrote to coach MYSELF through the traumas from which I was trying to recover. Turns out my BEST epiphanies and most popular posts were the ones born from my toughest moments. I constantly worked to view my challenges the way I had been teaching others to view theirs, and where the “basic” principles introduced in Jackrabbit Factor didn’t seem to adequately address what I faced in those moments, I found new principles and remedies to help me cope.
Jackrabbit Factor is still an important primer, but the good stuff is in Portal to Genius. (Read the truth about Portal to Genius). It gave me a platform to show through fictional characters how to turn things around when you’re too tired or too cynical to apply the principles you learn in Jackrabbit.
It allowed me to answer my own question, “Do the challenges ever stop?” and gave me a place to show how you can find new purpose that can inspire you to move through despair.
Ultimately, I discovered a satisfactory answer to why the law of attraction stops working. Beyond that, I was excited to work into the book an illustration of what it’s like to be led to the principles because you want abundance, but ultimately finding out what other good and worthy purpose the enticement perhaps is really for.
Not quite ready to go public with our personal challenges (outside of weaving them into a fictional story), I shared my lessons learned since writing Jackrabbit only with a small section of my readers, requiring that they jump through some extra hoops to get to them. I told them how we had used up our savings, and had run out of available credit. I described how it felt to finally get to the end of our visible resources, and the “portal to genius” we discovered there*.
*After getting down to our last $200 with no other paycheck in sight, we were shown through a spark of genius (inspiration) how to solve our problem. We became conscious of some of our hidden resources, and pulled in more than $43,000 that month. We even had another similar month after that.
Finally, I had the fodder I needed to complete the book Portal to Genius.
My favorite epiphanies over the years that brought us to that success are now gathered in the Favorites or Top 47 list here. The list isn’t complete because I haven’t had time to go back through and tag all my posts yet, but that’s where you’ll find some other amazing insights that helped me tremendously when it appeared we were doomed to lose everything… and the good news is, no, we didn’t end up losing everything.
(The new inflow got us caught up, but it wasn’t enough to repay our debts. It gave me renewed confidence in the principles, but we still had a long row to hoe.)
While tomorrow will certainly bring new challenges, and while I continue to learn how to roll with the punches, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned so far, for the person I’m becoming through the challenges, and for the tender mercies of the Lord that assure me He is still mindful of me and my family, even in our failings. His hand in our life has kept us going from day to day. Can you say, “manna”?
Sorry – it’s so hard not to go off on tangents here. Back to the story (of why I disappeared in May.)
After the book was out, and in the summer of 2010 I reconnected with Kirk Duncan. I was a student who was ready for the next teacher to appear, and there he was. Although we had known each other for a few years already (because I had been invited to speak to his organization a couple times), I really hadn’t known who HE was or what I needed to learn from him. For sake of focus, that whole story will have to be shared another time.
I attended his Body Language Show, and his Master your Influence class, and something was re-ignited in me. I caught a vision of what more I could be doing to see even better results. Not only was I going to throw myself into the application of what I learned from him through our mentoring sessions, but I also decided to step it up and get busy actively putting on workshops again and generating new momentum for my business with the more sober, more refined, and more mature message I now had to share.
Perhaps I had finally turned the corner and I would start seeing more of an increase over and above the much appreciated physical, emotional, and spiritual manna on which we’d been surviving.
Perhaps it was time to stop holding back, fearful of taking too much time away from my family, and just GET IT DONE (get our debts paid back).
So that’s what I did. I gave my website a face lift, filled up the calendar with a year full of events, and went to work. The demand began to grow as the momentum increased, until spring of this year (2011) when I found myself flying out for an event nearly every weekend.
Kids? What kids. I didn’t have time to really stay connected with who they were and what they were going through. They didn’t like it, but they were willing to support the cause. We all pulled together to make it work, with the promise that it would mean we could get our debts paid once and for all and ultimately return to a more sustainable pace with normal family routines and a little more freedom to get and do more of what they wanted.
Despite one event in March, which was one of my worst ever (and about which I’m still embarrassed), I had a GREAT time on the Book Writing Retreat (because it was a retreat, after all), but by the end of May, I was figuratively black and blue from being away from home so frequently.
I knew something had to change by the time I spoke for Garrett Gunderson’s big Financial Enlightenment event, because I was so visibly weary that when it was over, some of the other speakers (and even quite a few participants) approached me with pity and hoped to help ME however they could.
I had lost my “beacon in the fog”. I could no longer envision a single reward in my future that was worth putting myself through this.
What made matters worse, was when I finally sat down to see how effective the year’s strategy had been, the revenue was only about a 4% increase over the previous year when I had kept a more reasonable schedule, doing most of my work online.
That was the final straw. Again, here was my “proof” that no matter what I did, the laws must be in suspend mode, and my results were probably just going to continue to be like manna, and manna alone.
I concluded, if I’m just going to be living on manna either way, what the heck am I trying so hard for? That’s when I began to seriously consider bankruptcy for the first time.
With the debts we had accrued (by trying to hold our bad real estate investments for far too long), and in spite of the steady annual growth we had been experiencing in our books / seminar business, the revenues had not been large enough to get rid of (or even make much progress toward) the heavy debt load. On paper, we were an easy case for bankruptcy.
Need I mention, our relationship was strained? My husband had left his job in 2005 to help me in the business, and over time his work building and maintaining our online school had become a full-time venture. Within about two years he replaced his income, so it made sense to keep at it. At least working on our business promised an unlimited income, while his previous job definitely had a ceiling.
The problem with this arrangement was that we had to pay for our own insurance (expensive), we were maxed out for time and couldn’t add another thing to our plate even if it meant earning more money, and even though he worked as much as 12-14 hours a day, there was no paycheck specifically with his name on it.
Not a big deal; we’re in this together and we share the business profits, but in my moments of weariness and despair, it was easy to latch on to the distorted notion that he wasn’t doing enough to solve our problem.
It often felt like I was shouldering the whole load because I was the one traveling, and that he had nothing really concrete to show for his fill-all-the-gaps-and-keep-things-running contribution. While I knew consciously that if he stopped what he was doing, it would probably all break down, it wasn’t enough to keep me from feeling like a major victim in the world of my own creation.
We had a number of meetings with several different mentors – marriage advice, money advice, business development advice – and some pretty ugly conversations between each other. Deep down we both believed we’d ultimately work it out, but at times we couldn’t see how it could be possible.
With some excellent advice to me from Dino Watt, (founder of the Business of Marriage), I gathered the strength to have a specific kind of conversation with my husband. That was the beginning of the much-needed surgery to address the root of our problem, remove the cancer from our relationship and heal the necessary incision. I had to remember that on the way to success, sometimes surgery is required, and in the middle of it, it would appear there has been a murder in the room. In reality though, sometimes surgery is necessary to save a life. (from You ^2 – “You Squared” book by Price Pritchett)
Through this process, which spanned many weeks, I got a good look at who I had become in the mad race to fix our mess, and I didn’t like what I saw. I couldn’t feel any more. I was numb, and ready to do whatever was necessary to find a pace I could live with. I didn’t care if it meant going back to square one and making sure that this time, the ladder was leaning on the right wall.
I’m a traditional sort of girl. My husband is a traditional sort of guy. We both want to fill the traditional roles where he is the provider and I am the nurturer. That had always been our plan and our intent, but somehow we had ended up in circumstances that appeared to be opposite of what either of us had ever wanted.
To rock the boat now, I felt like I was rebelling against God. Here I had felt led all those years to do what I had done, but I had no more strength left to continue. I was done. I didn’t care if it meant we’d end up in a shack. I was ready to let go, and NOT be tempted to pick it all up again.
This was the first time I didn’t really seek approval from God to stop; I was outright mad at Him for stringing me out so long, and wasn’t really interested in his opinion on the matter any more.
At the same time, I knew I was cutting myself off from inspired solutions, and hardening my heart. But it just hurt too much to respond in any other way.
It wasn’t long before I started noticing some interesting things going on around me. I can’t really share all that transpired, but within just a few days, I had multiple encounters with people who said or did things that got me thinking differently. Through these experiences, I learned with certainty that the Lord understood what I was going through, that He had compassion on me, and that it was “complete”.
What was complete?
Did I hear someone say, “It’s complete”??
The words “It’s complete” repeated in my mind twice nearly audibly, and many times more as I reflected upon their initial arrival. Accompanying those words was a feeling of peace, and tenderness. I knew they were not of my own invention, because I was already convinced that I was jumping off a ship I should have been steering. But no, this impression let me know that God was still at the helm of my life, and that everything was playing out just as it was supposed to.
Could God really be that merciful? Now? Even in spite of my bitterness?
I still get choked up as I think about it.
I was in awe. Even as angry as I had been, He put people in my path, inspired some conversations, and prepared my heart to hear and recognize his confirmation to me that this child of His was throwing an unnecessary tantrum.
In one meeting with my bishop (who is like a pastor or minister in my church), he listened, counseled me, and then knowing how hard-hearted I said I must be, he left me with this verse: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God…” Romans 8:38-39
In other words, not even my bitterness was separating me from His love. Suddenly, He didn’t feel so far away anymore.
In time, I had to smile, because I realized that, had I bothered to ask His opinion, I may have discovered that these changes were sanctioned all along, and that, in fact, I was not rebelling at all. Turns out the changes I was “selfishly” making for my own self-preservation were actually necessary for His purposes as well.
How mysterious are the works of God. That’s all I have to say about that.
That night I had a dream. It was a recurring dream that I’ve had for many years, so it didn’t really surprise me when it began. I think I’ve had it enough that I know I’m dreaming as it happens, but it still always has to play out nonetheless.
Generally, I find myself on a campus, usually a high school, but I can’t find my classes. I wander around, and eventually get to where I’m supposed to be, but by the time I get there, I’ve already missed several weeks and I’m unsure of what to do about it. Or, I manage to get to class, but somehow I don’t have the homework that I’m supposed to turn in. In every dream, I wonder if I’m not learning what I’m supposed to learn, or being where I’m supposed to be.
But that night, the dream was different. This time I was on a college campus, and I could see a graduation ceremony taking place. Again, I was in the wrong place. I felt like I was supposed to be in the ceremony with the other graduates.
Then my dear friend Carolyn Cooper appeared. None of my friends had ever shown up in this recurring dream before, so I was thrilled to see her. She could tell I was feeling disappointed that I had missed graduation, and said, “Don’t worry, your life experiences count toward graduation, and you’re only two or three classes away.” Then she even added, “I’ll show you where they are.”
I woke from that dream completely at peace and satisfied with its conclusion. I felt gratitude and amazement – to realize that the recurring dream and (finally) an actual ending was another way for God to assure me that everything is just as it should be, and to be patient and trust him. It rounded out my experience from the day before, and helped me understand what had been meant by the words “it’s complete”.
Here’s what I know: I was supposed to create what I created over the last 10 years. But despite my fears, it was never meant to be an unending assignment away from my favorite and most important role as a mother. It was necessary, but temporary.
I recognize God’s hand in our family during those years, and how he held us together, taught each child individually through his Spirit, and strengthened us all while the work was in process. But it’s complete.
And now I know, that even though we have debts to pay, I don’t have to keep rushing to create new, bigger, or better products and services, always leaving my previous projects under-developed. Too much of a good thing can be bad.
Here’s another article on that topic: How to know when it’s time to stop.
A conversation with Rich Christiansen helped me recognize that in my business it’s time to shave away the activities that don’t fuel me, and which aren’t really profitable, and pick the few things I love the most and drive them deep, fine-tuning them and developing THOSE products and services to their peak potential.
Long story short (even though it’s too late to call this one short…), Rich also taught us about “dancing in your tutu”. This means that you keep your eye on the ultimate goal, but sometimes you have to do what’s uncomfortable for a season so that you can get there.
Men, imagine, standing on the street corner dancing in a tutu to make the money you need to fund the achievement of your ultimate dream.
In the Jackrabbit Factor, it’s called going after another paper sack even though you’re really on a rabbit hunt.
In our case, my husband and I both agreed it was time for me to settle down, and time for him to dance in a tutu, while we put our life back in order. It was time for us to redefine how we want our relationship to look, and start the lengthy process of putting in all in place.
We’re in this for the long haul, and knew that if we want the kind of golden years we’ve always had in mind, we have to stop and re-define the guard rails of what we are, and are not, willing to do.
About this same time, my children participated in a Pioneer Trek where they recreated some of the experiences of the early Mormon settlers. They dressed in clothing from the 1800s, were assigned to families with a Ma and Pa, carried their only belongings each in a single bucket, and pulled handcarts across wilderness terrain for several days. Along the path, they were told true stories about those who had lived through the original trek, and learned how to cope with and overcome many of the same kinds of challenges.
On the following Sunday at church, quite a few of the youth stood and shared their experiences and lessons learned. As I listened to their stories, one of the experiences struck me personally. They talked about the women’s pull.
The women’s pull was the section of the trek when the men left the trail because they were needed in the service of their country during the Mexican War. The men who left were known as the Mormon Battalion, and this left the women to shoulder the load alone.
What touched me was when they talked about the end of the women’s pull. During the mock-trek, the young men did leave the young women to pull the carts alone for quite some time over rough and discouraging terrain. But after the simulation was over, the young men ran to help again, and the women’s pull was over.
The words “It’s complete” returned to my mind as I heard their stories, and I felt assurance again that things in my life really were finally transforming. I didn’t need the changes to all be immediate, after all, I still expected that there were a few more lessons I needed to learn before I could “graduate”, but the path was laid before us and we both knew it was good.
It’s nearly 3 am again – I’m eager to share what those extra lessons turned out to be, and you’re probably wondering, “so, what about the debts?” or “what are you going to do with your business now?” but I’ll have to save those details for next time.
If this exposé is helping you at all, please comment below. It helps me feel like all our drama (or trauma) wasn’t all for naught. 🙂