This entry explains why I believe in working on mindset before anything else. To be fair, you need to know my origins to understand my evolution. Every one of us needs to do this because it offers us awareness into which pain, we are avoiding, and which pleasure we are seeking. My origins are standard middle class, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know; I just knew that I had a safe and comfortable childhood. My parents were opposites, Mom ever organized and Dad every wandering. Everything seemed quite normal and on track until midway through high school when Dad had a mid-life mental health departure. No one knows the exact reason. Was it because of the nasty 10-foot fall on his head to a concrete patio? Was it a genetic time bomb? Was it truly a midlife crisis from job loss?
At 17 years old I saw my parents grapple with compounding negative issues all at once. Joblessness, which meant bills weren’t paid, mid-life crisis which was diagnosed as bi-polar disorder, foreclosure and bankruptcy which lead to homelessness. I had a carefree childhood and it never occurred to me that there wouldn’t be a home to live in anymore. At 18 years old, I left for an Au pair position in NYC and ran from what I didn’t understand. I DID feel sorry for myself! The loss of my home, my parents’ marriage, my father’s mental health, and all our financial resources left me very insecure. From 18-20 I experienced sofa surfing, food insecurity, poverty, and no access to health care of any kind. I married incredibly young thinking that would be the solution; I would just build my own story, start my own family.
For awhile it worked, I pushed myself to work two jobs while carrying eighteen credits and raising a 2-year-old while my spouse worked 16 hours a day as a security guard for minimum wage. I used to look around and compare myself to my friends who had parents who helped them pay for college and buy things like food, books, and winter clothes. So many times, I felt utterly alone and sorry for myself! I borrowed one hundred thousand dollars for four years of private college education that landed me zero work. Why do you ask? Because the year I graduated with my graphic design degree, was the year MacIntosh was released forever changing (and revolutionizing) the graphic world. Within just a few months of graduation, my skills were obsolete, and I was saddled with debt twice the cost of my house.
In addition to this negative wealth situation, I was grappling with postpartum depression which led me to just hold on for dear life. I couldn’t muster the energy to dream, let alone set goals and make plans to accomplish them. I spent most of my twenties in a fog of lack. Lacking money, lacking support (my mom had a 15 year old at home still and had to work 2 jobs to pull herself out of the financial nightmare my Dad and his mental illness caused) lacking peers, lacking motivation, lacking nutrition (found out later I was chronically anemic and low in vitamin D) and so all I could do is create a list of minimum standards for my life which became my default systems when life was too much to bear. Unlike many of my peers, I was giving my parents money to pay their bills, and I spent most of my twenty’s searching for my homeless father as he wandered across the country from Minnesota to Arizona and then down to Florida. I repeat, I felt DEEPLY sorry for myself. My mindset was in a total and complete funk, and I thought this was OK because I didn’t know how to change it. The challenge of change seemed impossible.
Without friends or emotional support, I had nothing to lose when I began reaching out to students from all over the world. It was the international club at the U of M. I met a man whose family had escaped Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge wiped out two million people; I met a woman who escaped the Sandinista Contras conflict in Nicaragua; I met people from Tanzania, Pakistan, and Columbia too. Slowly and then suddenly, I began to understand the gift of being born in the United States of America. I began to see my little 100-year-old farmhouse as a palace and took care of it and decorated it like it was the finest home on the cover of Southern Living Magazine! My daily habits and routines kept me in the lane of consistency which brought stability. To be completely transparent and honest, at times, the work felt like a never-ending slog. Time on task over time. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse Repeat. The first dramatic mindset shift happened when we made a profit from the sale of our home. Suddenly, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I decided to ‘get into’ real estate. However, my passive ways, listening to bad advice and stubborn mindset kept me in the lane of lack for 20 more years!
I can easily recall how each day was a struggle of figuring out how to feed the family, pay for school events, clothes, activities, supplies, orthodontics, holidays, birthdays, and the list goes on and on. Lack, lack and more lack. I didn’t understand that there was a science for happiness until 1998 when I started a job as an assistant for a recruiter in Southern Indiana. This person was so crazy happy all the time and I seriously thought he was a nut job. I wanted to smack that smile right off his silly face! How could he love his job? He was in at 8 am each day and his only job was to pound the phones until he set three appointments with mid-level management (talent) at banks around the country. He used to say so many wonderful things to me and I poo pooed it all. He also would bring me banana bread from his wife and little happy meal toys for my kids – still, I saw him as a unicorn until later that year when I was invited to go to a corporate sponsored event on self-improvement. This should be interesting I thought.
I can’t remember the person’s name, I can’t even remember the theme of the content, but what I can remember was a HUGE lightbulb going off in my head! I left that workshop with such inspiration and a massive desire for change! The next day, I called a good friend and asked her if she wanted to help me write some content for a new self-improvement workshop. She said no. My aperture had been opened, my lens widened, and it even though I feared it, I knew I would never forget my new mission. My new goal, my ONE THING, my singular vision would be to BECOME the person I needed at various times and crossroads in my life. Lost, alone, without focus, sick, and hungry without purpose or motivation and looking for a road map to begin the journey. The rest is HERSTORY! Once I knew how I wanted to FEEL, how I wanted to interact with the world, my why showed up! BE THE CHANGE! Be the person that illuminates the path to improvement no matter how small or slow it may seem to evolve. We each have our own baseline and timeline for self-discovery.
I’m now 55 years young and I’ve experienced homelessness, abuse, poverty, health issues, money issues, familial issues, and depression. Once I solved my broken mindset, the rest melted off. I’ve been in debt and STILL was able to navigate the purchase of twelve homes and a cabin by MYSELF! Back to my comment earlier about the science of success; this is what I do all day, every day. I teach the science of mindset which creates the foundation for attracting the life you want to live. A life by design means you must first be the change and then do the work and you will HAVE the results! Start where you are, use what you have and begin. Decide the what, and the how will show up! Surround yourself with people who believe in you and inspire you. Let the negative fall away as you develop just enough discipline to create the habits that tip the first domino of success! Visualize yourself AS IF you already have the people, things, and experiences in your life. Feed only positive stories to your subconscious mind and begin to talk to yourself the way you deserve to be treated. Place boundaries around the rest and with HUGE gratitude, watch your life begin to become an authentic representation of your greatest hope and dreams.
Now I am that UBER positive person who sees the CAN and never gives up on putting the puzzle pieces together. It’s kept me young, sharp, engaged and eternally optimistic for a wonderful future. #whatyoufocusonexpands
Love From me,