February 26, 2013

Today it's a Hard Lesson Learned

It is hard when your best friend is also your business partner.

So personal confession, the other night I took out my business frustrations on my husband, who rightly so got defensive.

We are starting our own company and it is not easy. I wonder why this and why that and end up doubting how it all will work out. I become overly critical and near ready to call it quits.

So the next morning I decided to filter these thoughts through another dear friend. Someone I knew who would let me explode and then reign me back into the right mindset and focus. Only, as I was typing the message I hit send while simultaneously realizing I was messaging the wrong group of people.

God has a funny way of teaching us sometimes.

I immediately got sick to my stomach and sent apologies out. I still ache with grief over this mistake.

The truth of the matter is I am scared.

I worked hard for 14 years to pay off my college debt, pay off stupid college credit debt, and establish the lifestyle I desired in terms of money and profession. My credit score was near perfect and a steady paycheck was more than sufficient.

However, life events happened in a short period of time---a divorce, a marriage, unexpected job changes and a move.

I still hold onto my almost perfect dream house on a cul-de-sac as a future investment for the girls college fund and am blessed with great renters. And we continue to create Mike's beach house into our home.

I take great pride in being able to continue to pay my own debts that I brought into this marriage but know there are limited days left when I can do this. All the while, yearning to be debt free again and able to contribute financially to our life.

Lately this pressure cooker of time has hit me hard.

There is a scary unknown trying to create the life you want through your own business. The sacrifice is the security of a paycheck while competing in the rat race.

My mind still swirls with thoughts of how to fix this all, but none of the solutions feel right yet.

I wish that I could end this post with a positive as I typically do in my blogs, but I am still unsettled. So I share this piece of me with you because it's where I am today.

And it is okay to not have all the answers.

February 20, 2013

Trying to Not Have One of "Those" Days

I am standing in line in a food store in Costa Rica. In front of me sitting in a shopping cart is a little girl about 3 years of age staring at me---one of two white people in the whole store.

Her dark chestnut spiral curls bob up and down and she shyly cocks her head at me. Her deep brown eyes find mine and her beautifully bronzed skin glows with the reflection of her sunny yellow shirt. I smile at her. She smiles at me.

"Como se llama?" I attempt to ask her in my best Spanish.

Her face explodes in a grin and she begins to speak to me much too fast for me to understand and what she has said. Her eyes and smile show anticipation in my response so I say, "me llamo Sarah." Another excited vocal explosion occurs and somehow we manage to carry on a conversation.

Later the clouds cover the sky in a misty gray yet I see a twirling whirl of blue. As the motion subsides I see another little girl, about 7, enjoying herself. She twirls some more and stops briefly to stare at the ocean before twirling again. Her simple joy of life is evident.

The small part of Costa Rica I saw was pretty poor and dirty, yet there were sprinkles of beauty.

It struck me that here I was an American visitor who is blessed with two houses, three cars, money in the bank account, able to vacation, and yet I still find times to complain.

Like today, I sit here feeling overwhelmed with all that I must do and my mood is somber as I feel like I am keeping my beach bum husband on the wrong island. It all causes me to pause.

It is okay to have "those" days. You know, "those" where you seem to reflect on the negatives, but today I cannot help but think about a bright spot of blue against a gray background.

I stop the sorrow train of thought in my mind and begin to list off all the joy, and grace, and love that has been given to me in my life. And begin to turn this day around.

February 13, 2013

To One Who Inspired Me

I was 18, a senior in high school and knew my skiing ability was limited, very limited. Yet, when he took me skiing and we road the gondola up to the top of the mountain I felt invigorated. Suddenly I had confidence...a little too much.

I stood at the top of the mountain staring at the warning sign telling me that this slope was for "advanced skiers only." He feel into this category; I did not. But I choose to see there was only one way down and proceed to ski.

The hills I typically skied did not contain turns and the trees and bushes were far, far away from the slope. Not this one. Shortly after I successfully navigated the first TURN, I continued turning and ended up in a bush. Skis sticking in directions my legs should not have gone. Somehow I managed to get out of the bush and stood back up. (Okay, it was not all that graceful. If you have ever tried to stand up on skis after falling you know what it is like.)

Of course, somewhere along the way a ski patrol guy asked if I needed help or wanted a ride down. "Nope, I am fine," I told him. "Only one way to get down." He reluctantly left me. After a very long time, I made it down the hill.

My friend was waiting for me at the bottom. I am sure he got in at least four more runs, before he finally saw me again. "How was it?" he asked. I stood up proud and beaming...."It was so much fun, but I am frozen. Think I am going to sit in the lodge for a bit."

Peeling off the layers and snowsuit I looked down at my right leg and saw my knee was about five times its normal size. It sort of helped explain how my leg was bent so oddly in the bush. This resulted in a full length walking cast and months and months of physical therapy.

During this time I decided that I wanted to be a physical therapist. So when I entered college I started out on that course- but ended up graduating with a business and marketing major.

After my skiing accident and before going to college my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. In our last visit he asked me about my future plans. I told him I wanted to go into physical therapy.

I remember clearly when Pop looked at me. His blue and brown plaid bathroom hung off his shrunken body, his white wisps of hair were askew, yet his baby blue eyes still beamed with the beauty of the life he had left. He rarely said a lot.

"Sarah, I am going to tell you something. Don't just settle for being a physical therapist, be in charge of the place. Work your way to being at the top. Not everyone has the gift to be able to do that, but you do. You have something special. Don't settle."

He passed away right before I graduated high school.

By 2010 I had worked my way up to being a vice president. Today, I am a partner in my own business (http://www.letustellit.com/).

I think of numerous people who saw things in me I didn't. Who encouraged me to go beyond where I thought my own limitations existed. Who took the time to advise me for or against things. Who gave me the extra confidence to be where I am today.

Most successful people can echo the same sentiments. Don't let it stop there though. Take the time to find those rare people in your world that need to hear similar words from you and tell them. And then thank your own mentors, friends, parents, grandparents, teachers, or coach for telling you. 

"Hey Pop, 18 years have gone by since you told this 18-year-old Sarah to not settle. I have ran into many mountains that others saw reserved for advanced people only, but I still refused to let that stop me. And yes, there have been bruises and bumps along the way, but I have recovered. Today I sit at at my desk proudly running my own business. In an unexpected moment you took the time to encourage me. Thank you!"

February 6, 2013

My Son Still Sings to Me

Oh, give me the beat boys, and free my soul, I want to get lost in your rock and roll and drift away..came on the radio this morning as I was driving the girls to school. I turned it up and sang along  with my "son's" voice singing with me in my mind.

Tears came to my eyes and I said a prayer for four children whom I no longer have, but hold forever in my heart.

After being blessed with three wonderful daughters, the time came when it felt right to pursue my dream of having a large family through adoption.

Ever since I was little I wanted to adopt. I am not sure where this came from, but as a pastor's kid I saw firsthand countless couples make the decision to adopt, struggle through getting all the paperwork done, raise money, and wait and wait and wait...to bring their child(ren) home. As I got older I watched my friends go through this same process and shared their sorrows and joys.

Finally, I felt ready to do this personally. I went through foster care training in the hope of adopting a sibling group already waiting for their forever family in the United States. Once I received certification I began the process of getting my name on waiting lists. My whole adoption journey is another story for a different time, but lets just say the red tape involved, even in the US, was quite disappointing.

The girls were away visiting my parents in NYC and I was very discouraged. I was lamenting how unfair the process was as I had just lost the opportunity to meet a sibling group of four girls, after being chosen as one of three possibilities for them. "I just wish the phone would ring and someone would said hey we have kids for you...." I said.

Within five seconds of uttering these words, the phone rang.

It was our caseworker saying she had a sibling group of four who needed a place to stay immediately. They were not adoptable at this time, and older, but could I house them for just the week. Within 30 minutes I was at the police station to bring these kids home and I became a "mom" to seven kids.

What was suppose to be just the week turned into four months.

There is a lot of things I will share eventually about being a foster mom and my adoption process. And yet, there is still a lot that my heart holds, but cannot find the words to express.

Today, I continually celebrate my three blessings and share the joys with Mike and his three wonderful kids. There are four other souls that I think of every day. Their picture hangs on our fridge. I remember their birthdays, although they would never know.

So this morning when a song played and I heard my "son" singing I need to share. Because somewhere there are four kids who will forever be a part of me. And every day I wonder and I pray and I hope. For I will never believe that what I gave to them in those four months was enough, yet I am still discovering all that they gave to me.