Today is the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving. Homes
all across the US are brimming with family, friends, good food, and good
company. This year's Thanksgiving is my 10-year anniversary of reclaiming my
life and my freedom. It was on this day 10 years ago that I arrived on my mom's
doorstep and she met me with open arms in my new adventure of finding me.
Earlier in the year (1998) my yearning to start my own business (after
having started one in 1994 only to fail miserably) reared its head again, and I
happened upon the fields of professional coaching and virtual assistance. I
explored both, and while I was drawn to coaching, as that most closely mirrored
what I was doing as a college student housing administrator, my then-husband and
I had made tentative plans to move to my hometown in Texas in 1999. It looked
as though that it would be easier to start a business as a virtual assistant
(VA) rather than as a coach there, so I enrolled in a VA training program.
Not only did I learn about starting and running a VA biz in this program,
I discovered how to have a life, as well. You see, my entire professional
career since receiving my graduate degree had been comprised of working at jobs
in a small college and running a non-profit agency, both of which required me to
be on call and available 24/7/365. Rarely did I have a weekend to myself
without being interrupted with some student crisis or maintenance emergency at
the college, many times forcing me to return to the college in the middle of the
night for several hours to help resolve the problem, only to then be expected to
be in my office by 8:30 AM ready to go to work with only a few hours of sleep.
Then, in my non-profit job, my board of directors felt that they could call me
at all hours (or drop by my home) about the youth center that I ran. After all,
I was the executive director and the only full-time employee. What did I
I discovered in this VA training program that I had no standards and
boundaries for myself. Of course, I realize now that had I tried to set these
while employed for someone else, I probably would have gotten poor employee
evaluations, but learning to set them for myself was quite a freeing
experience. I vowed at that point that my business was going to support my life
in the way I wanted to live it, and I was done with giving up my life for my
work. I would work only with whom I wanted to work and work when it suited me.
While that philosophy hasn't yet made me rich, it has made me happy and greatly
reduced my stress level…;) And, I like myself much better now, as well.
My other "ah-ha" gained in this training program was that I was miserably
unhappy with what little life I had. I realized after almost 10 years of
marriage that I had married the wrong person and that he would never be the
person I wanted him to be. I longed to return to a warmer climate, as I hated
the cold weather (I was living in Massachusetts at the time), and while I was
grateful for all I had learned while living there, there was no compelling
reason for me to stay. I wanted to reconnect with my family as well, as I was
rarely able to make trips back to Texas during my 11 years in Massachusetts
because of work commitments and obligations.
In my quest to become happier over the years I had voraciously consumed
self-help guides to try and "cure" myself. The turning point for me was a dream
of sorts rather than any info gleaned from a self-help manual. I was lying in
bed one morning after my husband had left for work, in a semi-awake state. A
vision/dream came into my head of two gingerbread people, one male and one
female, floating down a stream. (Ok, I never said this was a sane or realistic
vision, so bear with me..LOL.) The gingerbread people were tethered together by
a string, and suddenly a pair of scissors came floating down the stream and cut
the tie that bound the two together. I knew without a doubt that had the tie
not been severed, both of the gingerbread people would have drowned. I needed
to sever the ties that bound me before I drowned, as well.
So, in late September 1998, I decided to blow up my life. I quit my temp
job and made plans to withdraw my retirement savings to live on for a year while
I reinvented my life. (Side note — I'd NEVER recommend anyone else do this, as
it was quite a foolish financial decision, but I felt I had no other choice at
the time,) I asked my then-husband for a divorce, put the house up for sale,
sold the bulk of our possessions over a couple of weeks at tag sales (garage
sales), arranged for a long-distance mover to take the remainder of what I owned
to my mom's house, and a few days before Thanksgiving, packed my car with the
remainder of what I owned and our dog (I got custody of her in the divorce <g>)
and started my 1800-mile trek from Massachusetts to Texas.
The drive took me 36 hours, which I completed over the course of 3 days.
I shed many tears during that drive, as the decision to divorce had been a
difficult one that was 5 years in the making. I had taken my marriage vows
seriously, with the understanding that I'd only do that once. Brandi, my dog,
was a very understanding and inexpensive therapist, as she just lay in the back
seat, listening patiently to me. <g>
I finally arrived back in my hometown in Texas at my mom's house in the
early afternoon of Thanksgiving day of 1998. My mom was glad to see me, and in
her usual tradition, had purchased a Thanksgiving dinner from Wal-mart that was
edible but not very good. My mom inherited my grandpa's love for gardening and
the outdoors, and my granny's great ability to throw together a meal from almost
nothing was completely absent from her gene pool..LOL….So, I moved back into
my childhood bedroom, created my new business office in my mom's garage,
swallowed my pride at the thought of moving back in with my mother as a
35-year-old separated woman who'd been on her on since age 18, and began my life
So, Mom, this is for you, even though you're no longer with us, and this
is my first Thanksgiving without you. Thank you for loving me enough to take me
in and believe in me, even though you never quite understood what I was doing.
If it weren't for your love and trust and support, I'd never be where I am
today. Eric and I will NOT, however, be enjoying a Wal-mart repast..LOL. We
are making Thanksgiving dinner from scratch on Saturday, when he's off, and I
know you'll be there with us in spirit as we celebrate the holiday. (I got
Granny's cooking genes..LOL)
Thanks also to all of you on this holiday for being loyal readers,
clients, and friends. You have all made my journey easier in some way, and I
appreciate you being in my life.
Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.