Day 5 - 10 - Shifting Winds

It's been a stressful 6 days - with a couple reaching extremely high stress levels.

It started innocently enough - Friday was Guardians of the Galaxy in the morning, then lunch with my wife, then her taking the kids to Guardians - all free, thanks to her management position at the theater.

The weekend offered some highlights - with Free Comic Book Day & Church - but also featured some major family drama, with the kids, in typical teenage fashion, and between Kristi & me.

By the Sunday night, my entire life direction shifted. Instead of continuing to focus on speaking & coaching, Kristi and I decided it was time for me to go get a 'regular' job, create some stable income, and allow her to come home after spending two years working at the theater.

This means seriously changing course. Toastmasters will be a major casualty - though I might be able to salvage a club meeting here or there. It also means putting a resume together, going after a regular job for the first time in seven years, and seemingly putting speaking & coaching in neutral. 

I admit, this is somewhat frustrating for me. I've only gotten the freedom to really go after this dream over the last few months. Sort of. While I've been somewhat pursuing it over the last several years, my hands were always tied by insurance issues with my kiddos - three of whom have Neurofibromatosis, and need major medical services. Without state insurance, for example, we would have face a million dollar chemotherapy bill for my daughter Bailey. So, making a big income one month, but not being able to create a reliably big income month after month, would put my kids at risk, medically. Thankful for the government help, but it also tied my hands.

Kristi, however, has been steadily working for the last couple years at a job that isn't exactly glamorous, is physically demanding - at least for those of us in the middle-aged category, and made enough, but not too much, to keep us afloat, after we lost one of our kids SSI checks (the gov't decided she was 'better') - and she was more equipped to take a 'lower-level', 'on-your-feet' job than I was - and I was still able to match or exceed her income as a coach. If we reversed roles, I would have to earn twice as much, as she had no 'at home' earning capability, beyond the occasional book sale.

She's worked her way up to Manager, but even as her income has increased, our rent and other expenses have virtually matched it. Along the way, she's missed a great deal of time with our kids, and being a stay-at-home mom was and is a high priority, that she put on the back burner.

So Sunday, it all came to a head, and resulted in me taking some drastic actions on Sunday - some of which may have been premature in light of what would follow. But when you're in the storm, you don't always know where it's all going to go. In the moment, in the wind and rain and lightning, I felt like I was going to be giving everything up, and putting my dream on hold for good.

Monday, the storm cleared somewhat, as Kristi and I took some more time together, without kids around, to regroup, and create a revised strategy - instead of me working with the intent of having Kristi quit as soon as possible - we're going to build to different combined income levels in order to change our living situation, now that insurance is less of an issue (2 of the affected kids are over 18) - though, ironically, the child who lost her SSI may be on the verge of getting it back, creating a potential catch-22. Still, the goal is for me to make enough for her to quit - but not by simply replacing her current income - instead by at least doubling it, in a steady, reliable way, as well as for us to be able to deal with healthcare in a more 'Republican' manner - through her employer, then through private insurance. Assuming they'll cover pre-existing - but that's a whole 'nuther mess.

We're working together, though, with a focus on a new home, and a new vehicle within the next 12 months, with the end end goal of getting her home, full-time, followed by expanding her role within the NF community as a speaker/fundraiser.

Essentially, all the goals I had earlier still exist, but I'm adding finding a 40 hr/wk job to it as well. I'm hitting the temp agencies, sending out resumes, and seeing what happens. But I'm also more motivated than ever to bring clients on board, find speaking opportunities, and create products. I have a financial goal to hit, and it doesn't matter how I hit it - but getting a job is a requirement for now - until is isn't. Focusing on income-creating tasks is now more important than ever.

Reading over this, it may all seem as clear as mud. Our life is complicated. Even now, after getting on the same page with Kristi, the last two days have been difficult. Diet-wise, I've been stress eating. I've been reluctant to put a resume together - my work history is full of holes over the last 15 years. I'm still shuttling kids everywhere, and dealing with bills and paperwork, and trying to wrap my head around getting a job while still trying to hang on to my dream.

I put up a question of Facebook Saturday night - 'At what point do you give up on your dream?' Got lots of interaction, though no one knew what I was going through. A lot probably assumed I meant my dream of winning the World Championship of Public Speaking. Others thought it was just a general question. Few had an inkling of the stress and depression I was in the middle of. Lot of motivators declared various versions of 'NEVER'. Others had answers that mirrored my WinAnyway strategy - sometimes dreams change.

For me, my dream isn't changing. But my biggest dream has always been to have a happy marriage and family - which may mean my speaking dream has to be put on hold. Still, I believe if I successfully accomplish the speaking dream, I can create better outcomes for my family dream than if I settle for a 30-50K J.O.B.

Bizarre. Complicated. But that's life. Real life. My Life. I haven't really talked about this side of our life. Most people just assume I'm uber-successful. They're right, of course. It's just that that uber-success isn't financially based. It's family-based.

Because even in our time of storms - no matter how many trees may come crashing down upon our house - we find a way to stay in it together, to Thrive, and to Win Anyway.


  1. Hi Rich - I had come back to TM last week after a very long hiatus and heard the news and saw your post and knew it must be very complicated. I have been thinking about you and I know you will find a way. You are a very talented speaker. And I love the focus on part your your dream being that you have a happy family. That is a worthy goal and sometimes goals don't always balance.

    This is a long game. And it's not over. I have a feeling you are closer than you think and while it might seem like a setback, I think it's just a corner. We'll all be rooting for you!


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