There were many times I didn’t think I’d make it through.
I had two children by the age of 21, their father wanted no part of it. I was on my own. I was working full time and returned to college when my oldest two were still in diapers. I took a full load of courses and was grateful to pick up a work study job on campus. Minimum wage then was $4.25/hour. My two bedroom mobile home trailer was tiny and cheap, but it was mine.
I spent my days working and commuting between home, daycare, work, school, and then my nights doing homework, bath and bedtime for the kids and then hours doing my homework or trying to figure out which bills I could pay that month.
I earned my degree, and graduated cum laude to boot, but it sure wasn’t easy. I also managed to morph that work study job into a full-time position, although it took almost ten years to work my way up to $35,000 annually with benefits.
It was going to be more money than I’d ever made in my life.
Life throws a hand grenade
That was the same year my gallbladder decided to rear its ugly head. After nearly six months of not knowing for sure what was wrong, it finally required removal which everyone said should have been no big deal.
But for me it was.
The surgeon screwed up, unknowingly I guess or maybe because he was leaving for vacation the next day, he sent me home. Two days later I was back in the ER and then was admitted, requiring emergency surgery.
I almost died.
I spent two weeks in the hospital, my two kids were shuttled from family to friends to coworkers. I was soo grateful for all of those who stepped up then. It took much longer to recover because I had no choice but to go back to work at least part-time. My income was all the only one there was.
Starting over and over…and over
I had to start over to build what I had. I started freelancing in 2003 for extra money. The job I relocated for and thought would be long-term turned out to have a manager who forced me out but then much later was indicted for embezzling federal funds.
I started over again but determined this time that I would figure out how to not be so dependent on employers for my income.
I had two more children, born when I was thirty-five and then thirty-nine. Their father turned out to be an addict which brought a whole new host of hardships to deal with including the long-term impact of his addiction and abandonment on my youngest daughters.
I started over again and again. Each time it felt like five steps forward and three steps back.
It’s been a long, complicated, difficult, stressful road. But it’s also been filled with family, surprises, new skills, new people, challenges, and most of all, love.
As I sit here today, I’m fifty-three and grateful for those hardships. I’ve learned so much and it all helps me now to have the flexibility I love. It’s the fact that I’ve had those hardships and overcome them that’s made me stronger and made me capable enough to run my own business from home.
My youngest turns fourteen in a few weeks. My children and ten grandchildren are healthy. I spend time with them often and can help out when needed.
I enjoy my steady work-from-home job teaching tech and freelancing. My coaching business is growing rapidly. I’m grateful to have multiple income streams. My goal is to buy a home within the next year.
There’s truth to that old German saying by Friedrich Nietzsche “Aus der Kriegsschule des Lebens. — Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker,” which loosely translated is “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”
Key Message: Everything I’ve done gave me the strength, skills, and confidence to do what I’m doing today.