Activating my Super Power: I’ve decided to forgive myself today.
My last day at Electrolux was January 31. After 16 years, it was over. I sold my home, packed up our family of five, and moved into a much cheaper, much smaller, short-term rental.
No steady income nor health insurance.
No jobs in site.
Two adults, triplet teenage girls, and a coon hound.
Remember how I told you things were changing at work? Well, they have and now I’m going out on my own.
I’m writing a book and starting a coaching business. It’s going to be great!
Don’t worry. I got this. It just looks a little different, ok? Keep the faith.
But Mom, it’s only in the movies that entrepreneurs make the money. Do you know the percentage of people who actually make it?
Like 5 % Mom. For real.
I know we’ll be OK Mom, but just until your book makes it on the bestseller list, what will we do for money? I can give up my allowance if that helps.
Earnest faces and eyes all around. My heart shakes with love.
Of course I wrestled with the guilt. What kind of mother was I?
They had already been through so much, with me seemingly the prime mover to all the pain.
First leaving Sweden.
Then breast cancer.
Then job loss.
Then health insurance loss.
Then home loss.
The new normal: Moving into a small house where we are huddled up in a few rooms living on top of each other. It’s kinda nice actually.
One of my daughters:
Ok, I’m just gonna say it. I like this house better.
She bobs her head, fork halfway to her mouth, smiling a bit while looking around, searching for agreement from her sisters.
Me grinning like a fool inside.Yay! A win.
I like it better too.
I actually get to see them more, hear them more. Hug them more.
That’s what downsizing will get you. Extra cash AND more time with family.
Are you ok honey?
No, Mom, I’m sorry. I have a sore throat. I didn’t want to tell you. I know we don’t have the insurance yet and I know it’s expensive to go to the doctor.
Her sister rushes around the corner (there are no secrets in this house) Hey you have a sore throat? So do I!
Another head pops out from the room next door: Hey me too!
Choruses of 'yeah! me too!' echoing in the hallway as I stand, hands hanging at my sides, feeling helpless and near tears as I realize nobody’s been telling me they’re sick because they don’t want to cause an expense they believe I can’t take care of.
I resolve to make my way through healthcare.gov. Maybe they won’t ask about the cancer. I mean that was the point of Obamacare right? Never thought I’d be sitting here. Maybe I can just go without? Let the rest of the family have it.
An hour later: Wow that wasn’t so bad.
A new definition of gifting success! Hooray!
Last year... tickets to Sweden for the summer.
This year - ta da! A successfully completed Healthcare.gov application, printed out and presented as a gift during our family dinner time.
Woo hoo! Blue Cross Blue Shield took us and I didn’t have to tell them about my preexisting condition! Girls, get ready to visit the doctor at will!
Whoops of laughter and joy all around. Another win. I'm getting the hang of this.
Then the pandemic.
The new, new normal and new questions:
What if you get sick?
Are you more susceptible to coronavirus because you had chemo?
I read in the news that all of the 401ks were in the toilet. Wasn’t that your backup plan?
How will you get clients when you aren’t allowed to go outside?
Not exactly what I had planned for this time in my life.
Me, sitting at my desk (now located in our bedroom) surrounded by manifestation boards, dreams of becoming a NY Times best-selling author and an executive life coach bopping around in my head, working my Monday.com boards and meditating, drinking detox tea and eating beans from the pantry.
All in the middle of a world-wide pandemic.
I feel like a cliché, or maybe good meme fodder.
When we visited our accountant before the virus hit, and I explained my new plans, he looked at me with a mixture of shock, awe and a little bit of fear. This is after questioning me about my ‘hobby’ business of creating and selling paintings.
Which had netted almost no income for the past two years.
Yeah, he's a bit concerned.
I know my Dad's worried (he’s a retired IBM 'blue blood' executive).
My father-in-law (Minnesotan all the way) is cautiously optimistic based on my track record of keeping the family alive.
So, to sum up:
I could be really pissed at myself.
By some yardsticks of success, I should be kicking myself in the ass all day, everyday, for ‘failing’ my family.
I don’t have my corporate job.
I have a health insurance policy I might not be able to afford.
I don’t know where we will live in a couple of years after the lease runs out.
I started a business in the middle of a global pandemic.
My 401k is in the tank.
I am writing.
I am painting.
I am serving others.
I have my skills, my health, my family, my faith and power of decision.
I am a role model for my daughters, teaching them that women can be who they were born to be, and don’t need to bend to societal ideas of what successful womanhood looks like.
Today my kids are fed. We have a roof, we have each other, and I am so very loved.
I don’t know what’s coming tomorrow. I don’t know if this time next year we will have enough money, if I will still be healthy, if I can send my kids to college.
Would society say I’m successful?
But I am.
Because I said so.