Controlling the Weather

Sunday would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday.  He missed it by a little over ten months. He so wanted to see it too. I actually think that he wanted to live forever. If given the opportunity, he would have taken it. What his birthday represented this year was to mark the point where our year of failing health for parents began. It has been an incredibly long year full of many lessons and many heartbreaks.

To say that I have been angry, bitter, and filled with resentment and content for my sisters and John’s brothers, is an understatement. We have received very little help from them over this past year and we have suffered because of it. That’s what I was thinking. It was all their fault for not helping. We were the victims in this whole scenario. Yes, we’ve been playing this victim card extremely well. So well that all of our closest friends believe it too. They’ve seen all the time and energy that we’ve had to spend on the parents without having time to keep our own lives in order. We just got hit with all the worst case scenarios at the exact same time.

I fully bought into this until here recently. I started reading a book by Grant Cardone called, “The 10X Rule.”  Basically, he says that anything you want in life should be multiplied by 10 and then the effort you put out should be multiplied by 10. That is the book in a nutshell. It’s a book about success and failure. To my surprise, it was a book about taking care of parents! It is in my eyes. In someone else’s eyes, it could be a book about raising children. It has floored me on how relevant it is to our situation.

I was going along happily enjoying the book when he hit me between the eyes with one sentence.  “Nothing happens to you; it happens because of you.”  BAM!! I was pissed when I read that. Absolutely pissed. What does he mean that the past year and a half happened because of me?!? Can I really help that my husband lost his job, we decided to start a business, had to put the beginning of that business on hold to take care of parents, and then went through all our savings to end up broke in the process? How in the world did that happen because of me? This wasn’t my fault. How dare he say that!

He went on to clarify that he wasn’t talking about karma. Granted most people don’t have this many bad things happen at once or do they?  It’s actually easy to have all the dominoes fall at the same time. Haven’t there been times when the water heater in your house went out the same week that you got a nail in your tire? But how could any of that be because of me? Aren’t they just circumstances out of my control that managed to happen at the same time?

Grant went on to point out that we need to be prepared for the unexpected. There are choices and practices that we do that prepare us for situations. If we are ready for anything, we handle everything like it was a slight bump in the road. If we aren’t ready for anything, we end up spending everyday simply reacting to what happened. When you spend your time reacting, you get tired. You get really tired. I was then getting less pissed. I could start to see what he was talking about with it happening because of me.

Then he brought up an example of savings mixed with aging parents. That’s when I really saw the light. He created a scenario about how much you make with how much is spent on life followed up with the amount left for savings. Then he hits you with the true life facts:  “If you save that money for the next 20 years, you’ll end up with around $400,000–assuming nothing goes wrong.  Now take into account the fact that your parents–possibly both your parents and your in-laws–didn’t plan for their own retirement properly.  They are going to outlive their savings by about 15 years and will depend on you to take care of them. If any of this happens, you will find out quite quickly, and too late, that you underestimated your financial goals and will spend more effort just trying to manage what you have created than what it took to accumulate it.” Damn. Was that directed directly at me?

Okay. He got my attention with that one. We aren’t unique in our situation. Then I started seeing exactly what he meant by it happening because of me. I had been working in finances. I ended up getting really sick and also had depression. So I quit my job to focus on my health since John was making more than enough to cover my salary. We were doing great with only his salary. While getting my health back on track, the parents (and in-laws) started needing more and more help. So they became dependent on my help. All the siblings from both families got used to me being the one to do the helping. They also got used to us being the ones to help out financially as well. The stage has been set for this past year.

We were dependent on one salary without any passive income coming in. I had been out of the workforce for years which guarantees that I would start out at the bottom if I went back into the workforce. We then sunk a big chunk of our savings into a business where neither of us had experience. Then the parents’ health all began declining rapidly. All four of them were in their 80’s. We had conditioned the siblings to the idea that we take care of the parents. Despite the fact we were running out of resources, we continued to take care of the parents while crying for help for our sinking ship. They were all used to us being the one throwing out the life-preserver to all of them, they figured we could throw it to ourselves. Plus not everyone is willing to help out another even if they are family. We learned a lot about the character of the people in our lives this past year.

Yep, we did it to ourselves. Now we find ourselves lower than low trying to pull ourselves up while keeping all the parents afloat. I’ve never had a very good relationship with money. Now all of us are needing me to be a miracle worker when it comes to money. There’s no pressure in that! My automatic response to this kind of pressure is that of an ostrich. Let me go stick my head in the ground.

The thing that has saved me from this past year has been the fact that I have continued to read as much as I can. I also do every single webinar that I can even though I know it is going to end in a push for a sale. I did get one that I’m rather glad of even if I could have used the money someplace else at the time. It is a spiritual money course by T. Harv Eker. Now Harv is a lot like Grant. He believes in tough love. Apparently, that is what I’ve been needing. A lot of tough love. It has snapped me out of this stupid victim mentality that I’ve been living in all year. That does more damage to you than going broke!

So I now have a few new tools in my toolbox. Grant Cardone has got my head on straight. T. Harv Eker is helping me to repair the relationship I have with money. I’m also using a couple of his methods to help get me organized and manage my time. Loving his post it note system! I’m also following the suggested morning ritual from Jim Qwik. That is helping me see how much of what I’m dealing with during the day is following me into my dreams. (I dreamed last night about not being able to change the kitty litter.) It is also helping me to increase my energy. Only bad part about his morning ritual is the cold shower. Talk about a wake up call first thing in the morning!!

All this has helped me to see that we can’t keep bad things from happening. We can be prepared for the unexpected though. We can have systems in place that can be adjusted to account for the unexpected rather than simply living in a reaction state all the time. We can protect ourselves from losing a job by having other sources of income in place.

Yes, we can’t stop the hurricane from hitting us. We can watch for the warning signs, get the sandbags in place, put our most valuable items in the car, and head for higher grounds to weather the impact of the storm from a safer place. We can safely survive the hurricanes of life rather than getting totally wiped out by them. Time to start getting ready for the next hurricane season.

Stay safe, my friends!

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