When I lost my business in 2011, it wouldn’t mark the first time I’ve had to bounce back. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t mark the first time starting over from scratch. In 1996, we moved from Virginia back to Louisiana and I shuttered my photography business there. I was paid for the name of the company, which may seem exciting … but looking back, it was more so just confirmation that we should go ahead and move home, rather than a comfortable chunk-of-change. Either way, my business was gone, Larry was out of the military, and we were starting over. It was scary, and at times, very, very tight financially.
People sometimes ask me now how I do all the things I do in business and I joke that it turns out my hyperactivity, that worked on my poor mama’s nerves, (still gets on my husband’s nerves) is an advantage in business. While that is true, I think a more important truth of it is I try to do as much as I can, because I am so thankful to be where I am. Sometimes, I simply walk it out because I don’t know where an opportunity is leading, but I trust that God does.
High school was more of a social engagement to me; English and literature being my only good classes. It wasn’t until after high school, when I got my first counseling certificate that I felt proud of an actual academic accomplishment. (I take that back—my 5th grade speech to the class about George Washington was pretty awesome. ;).
Several months after Larry and I were married, I moved to Virginia, where he was stationed in the Army. I cried all throughout the days and wrote letters to my sister, Wendy, who I’d never been away from. Within a few weeks of moving there, Larry was being deployed for a short time. He sat me down and asked me if maybe I wasn’t ready for marriage. He asked me if I wanted to go back to Louisiana. Of course, I replied no and asked why he would even think that. AND THIS PART STILL HURTS ME TO THINK ABOUT, he said, “Because you are always crying and you don’t seem happy to be here.”
Double ouch. My husband was so excited to marry me and yet he thought I wasn’t happy. I explained I just missed my sister, but that it would be okay. I would adjust. I was just starting over and it was harder than I thought. He nodded and left the room. The following two days were good and anytime I felt like crying, I held it back.
Then he deployed.
Our phone in the new apartment hadn’t been turned on yet, so I relied on collect calls to my parents. For the first time in my life, I was alone. And it was hard. I couldn’t get money out of the bank because I hadn’t been added yet. If it hadn’t been for a close friend of Larry’s who saw me coming out of the bank in tears (Thanks Mike Lord) I wouldn’t have had any money until Larry returned. A week later, after he returned and I told him what happened, he asked “Why didn’t you just bring the Power of Attorney to them?” to which I tearfully responded, “No one ever told me that was all I had to do! I’ve never done this before!” I remember he smiled at me (I say pitifully, he says amusingly) and he said, “It’s okay, babe. You’ll get it.”
I remember thinking, I’ll get what? (Insert smiley face here 😊, but not really 😑)
A major turning point for me happened one day not long after our Power of Attorney talk. That memory will always be vivid. I had an appointment to get acclimated to the healthcare system and get set up for an OBGYN. When I went to Fort Eustis, close by our apartment, I was given an appointment for the next day at Langley Air Force Base. As soon as Larry got home from work, exhausted, I fixed his plate and said we needed to hurry because we had to go see where my appointment was going to be the next day. He looked at me, puzzled, and then asked why we would have to go if it wasn’t until the next day.
“So I’ll know where to go. I’ve never been there before.”
“You expect me to drive you forty minutes away to show you where you need to go for tomorrow?”
“Yes, that’s what my daddy always did, so I wouldn’t get lost.”
He stared at me for the longest time, puzzled, squinted his eyes a time or two. Then he stood up, left the apartment, and when he returned a few minutes later, he placed a map onto the table and said, “Baby, I am not your dad. Follow the map.”
I went into the bathroom and cried; I felt sad, alone, and scared. I don’t think I’d ever been anywhere new without my dad showing me the way or somebody being with me. Even the trip to get to Virginia: A friend went with me, Dad had charted the entire way through a detailed AAA notebook with specific instructions, gave us a CB radio and truckers escorted us, passing us off to each other the entire way there (Which was really super cool, btw). There were construction detours, but the truckers helped us maneuver around them.
Back to my appointment at Langley. I’ve joked through the years that Larry, in those moments where he was just staring at me at the table, and after he realized I was serious, must’ve thought, “What did I get myself into?”
The next day, scared, pregnant, and still in a very new environment, I used the map to find my way from Ft. Eustis to Langley Air Force Base all by myself. The exit I was supposed to use was closed due to a car accident, and I had to go a different way. I was petrified. When I finally made it to the hospital parking lot, I felt such relief.
Then, when I made it home that evening, I felt empowered.
And as silly as that might sound, for me, that day, in following that map and with no assistance, I started my journey into becoming the independent woman I am today.
Larry has always protected me, but thankfully, he certainly didn’t coddle me.
I’ve come to realize finding my way in life comes with detours; sometimes dead ends, sometimes small little road bumps, just like a true journey. When I first became a mother, I wasn’t prepared; but I figured it out. When Larry deployed, I had to often stand alone. Through the journey I’ve learned there are always, I mean always, diversions. When I moved to Virginia, I left my family; in that, I found a family of my own and lifetime friends that I’ll always treasure. When we moved back to Louisiana, we went from living in a gorgeous townhome in Newport News, two-hundred dollar dinner dates, and a fairly full social calendar to living in a trailer in the country, on a small budget, a bit of a distance away from loved ones. There, I found a contentment I’d never known before. I found that living on a budget produced a respect for money that I’d never had. I met a wonderful friend across the street and taught myself to sew with encouragement from my mother and mother-in-law. When we lost pretty much everything we owned in storage, Larry learned to build furniture and we’ve had the bestest furniture ever since. After 9/11, Larry was called back to active duty. When I lost my business in 2011, I hit a major road bump, and through that, God helped me change course again and build something even better.
Just like the construction detours on the way to Virginia, there are going to be road bumps, closures, and detours. With every twist and turn, after finding your way around all those changes in your plan, sometimes with the help of others, you’ll find the detours were really the right path.
That is the journey. That is the map. The diversions and road blocks that always seemed to be what was stopping us were actually a guide the whole time, helping us find our own way.
When people say they’ve gotten everything in life on their own, without the help of anybody, it is still shocking to me. They forget the person who gave them a job when there were plenty of other candidates. That job may very well have been the job that landed them where they are now. Sure, they may have had to work for it, but through the journey we have all, and I mean ALL, had help. Granted, it is usually young people who say it and I know they will at some point gain that wisdom, so I’m not judging them. I’ve been there too.
Throughout the years, we have had to stop, regroup, and map out a whole new route. Sometimes, we had to take detours and back roads. Larry and I went to college and earned knowledge in a host of areas from Business Management, Marketing, Graphic Design, Paralegal, Counseling, Oenology, Private Investigating, Locksmithing, foreign languages, etc. We have started over and restarted over a multitude of times in our lives. But it turns out, that through all these different little paths we took, those seemingly unrelated degrees helped us both build distinguished careers. Without a doubt, every bit of education, volunteer and work experience has led me here. My businesses have grown, and I am so blessed to be writing and helping others fulfill their purposes. I’ve learned that my abilities are for God, and God can call anyone to fulfill His work; there is always another writer, publisher, or businessperson. So I want to work as hard and as happily as I can, and I want to appreciate where I am now.
Because there are always going to be detours.
I only have to follow the map.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” –Proverbs 3:5-6