I remember when it was my sons 13th birthday. You know, thirteen is a special age, it deserves something a little extra. But we had nothing, really no extra pennies even for a gift. I asked what he would love to eat for his birthday dinner and he wanted to go for Chinese food. So I went to both my neighbors who I had come to know a bit and just nonchalantly asked, hey, do you have any bottles for recycling kicking around, I would take them off their hands if they wanted…. And I collected as many as I could get find and ask for and went and bought 2 to-go orders of Chinese food and brought them home, made rice and that was as special as it got that year.

You see, I had come to the end of myself and was in a dire situation. Within two years of my divorce I had moved myself and our four children to a new city, worked at several jobs, found myself jobless for a number of months and hit a brick wall.  I didn’t feel like I had any choices… I didn’t have money for any extra education, I didn’t know about resources or where to go for help in this new city and I couldn’t afford to take the time needed to go back to school.

We had to claim bankruptcy, we had to visit the Food bank a couple times, and as a mother who finally got a job I was unavailable because I was so exhausted and distressed!

I would have taken up drinking but I couldn’t afford the wine!

As humans we are very hesitant to share anything that exposes our weakness. We don’t talk about how we are failing, what we are worrying about, how much in debt we are this month, how we are thinking of getting a divorce. Someone says how are you – “Fine!” Chances are a good percentage of the time – we are not fine.

I would rather be writing to you as a gold medal winner with pride and accomplishment, a best selling author who has been on Oprah, but I come to you vulnerable, a person who has been in trouble. Some of the trouble some of you might be in. How many of you are sitting there worried that you are in or need to claim bankruptcy? Is anyone contemplating divorce? How is your health?. How is your spirit?

You know, so often we don’t talk about these things! Even though the WORLD is depressed, foreclosed; we don’t talk about those things.

Well I’m here to talk about them.

Problems are a normal part of change! Failure is a temporary inconvenience, a stumbling block – I stumbled flat on my face. I ended up in bankruptcy, going to the Food Bank, feeling depressed – I understand how hard that can be !! But I also understand that it is the large stumbling block that can be turned into a Stepping Stone!

If YOU will change, everything will change for you! Treat problems as opportunities to amend errors in your previous judgment. When you learn you grow. With experience comes wisdom.

Right now you are on your way to something better.

No, you won’t be able to see the purpose until hindsight reveals it to you. You won’t like what’s happening while you are scared, fearful, stressed. All you will know is that you have to make a better way to survive, one step at a time…. But eventually, along the way, you will become what you are meant to be if you can embrace the courage to go through these three steps.

#1 KNOW that “things don’t work out – until you make them work out”.  I was in a bookstore one day and flipped open Dr Henry Cloud’s book “Integrity” and this line jumped into my heart. I had been thinking that it was my lack of something that was causing all these problems! I didn’t realize that what I was experiencing was common to man. Yes, it was hard and embarrassing sometimes, but I was not alone and my challenges were not insurmountable. I COULD choose to make them work out.

#2 SUCCESSFUL people become bigger than their problems. The problems I was facing and the responsibility of my children loomed huge in front of me. I was cowering, wishing the issues would go away. I didn’t understand that I possessed the ability inside of me to overcome! When I read T. Harv Eker’s book “Secrets of the  Millionaire Mind” I felt myself grow inside into someone I had not yet become.

#3 PREPARE yourself for a higher life. The solutions that served you in the past may not help you now. Discover new information, learn where to find help, take hold of available resources. If you are going to build a tall structure you have to start with a firm foundation. Begin to re-build your life with a higher mission in mind, your mission. Visualize the place where power can move to you and through you.

I have been at the bottom of my barrel and after seven years of bankruptcy and working hard (and smarter) I am now the CEO of my own company and am doing what I love and helping people in a very real way in their entrepreneurial businesses. I also share my story of encouragement to those who are going through their own struggles or know others who need support.  I have produced a documentary on divorce called “Divorce- It’s Always Darkest Before it Goes Pitch Black” and I have written a book for Extraordinary Administrative Professionals about how they can enjoy their work! I continue to always learn and hopefully impact others in the world who can benefit from my story and my encouragement- notice the word COURAGE hidden in there? That is for all of you reading this.

(abridged from my Keynote on ‘How to Enjoy Life – When Life is Un-Enjoyable’ )

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