NEW BUSINESS

My wandering ways have led me to venturing into the world of self-employment. Woo hoo! I decided to jump into a new business. Well, actually two businesses (helpethan.com & fityoungminds.org). I’ve always been a helper; a people pleaser. I derive great pleasure in knowing I have made someone’s day a little brighter; a little easier.

My life has been very full of a wide variety of experiences, some good (some great), some bad (some downright awful). I believe that the things that happen to us, happen for a reason. One of those reasons is to be able to empathize with others, to really understand what they are going through, and to be there for and learn from each other.

So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to begin a business that would help teens and young adults; provide life skills to survive and thrive! In the process I am learning that I still (at times) do not implement those coping skills. I know what they are – I just don’t implement them. Is the old adage “Those who can’t teach” true? Well, yesterday I certainly felt that way.

All of the stresses that come with starting a new business came crashing down on me. During the experience, I felt like a hypocrite. Here I am trying to teach others how to cope when I cannot even do it myself. I decided to share this instead of hide my guilt and shame, as again, this is what I am trying to teach.

There is nothing to be ashamed of when you get overwhelmed. Even the best, most calm, people have their moments. I was lucky enough to have this meltdown during a routine medical appointment. It was my first appointment with this medical professional. Boy was it her lucky day! (sarcasm). In all truthfulness, it was my lucky day. She began to ask me questions and I burst into tears. She was so understanding, non-judgmental, & calm. All things I needed at that moment. I told her about all that was happening. She asked if I wanted to speak with a social worker. I quickly answered yes.

Another blessed meeting. She saw me immediately during her already packed day. I told her my woes. I told her how I was starting businesses and how silly I felt due to the irony of the nature of the business. She assured me that it was okay to feel this way; just because my business was helping people, doesn’t mean I am not human. She told me – as a matter of fact, when people are in this type of business it is a good idea to receive counseling because of the pressure that comes with the territory. I already know this from my education in psychology, but for various reasons I was putting myself in a place that I shouldn’t…perfection.

Life has taught me many things. I know that sometimes I will succeed and sometimes I will fail. I learned that both are useful. My meltdown wasn’t a failure, but actually a new tool that I can use. A reminder to keep a balance. You see, at the moment I am out of balance. My total focus is on these two businesses.While I still give time to other things, THIS IS MY TOTAL FOCUS. You cannot be in balance if one thing is loading down one side of your scale.

I am starting over today. That’s the great thing about life. Every day is a new day. We can change our perspective and try again. Of course there will be days when this will happen again (I know right – will I ever learn?!). I am, as I said, human. We all tend to get off track. It is then that I know God will put the right people in my path to get me back in balance. I will look into my balance bag; shuffle through my life experiences; find the skills I have built; and pull out my reminders of just how to do that!

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No Fear! From Portugal to Milan

Seeing photos of my son, Alex’s, trip to Europe makes me elated for the wonderful experiences he is enjoying. It makes me want to drop everything and travel the world. Ah, but daily life beckons me back. It doesn’t mean I’m not looking for that chance. I know I spout about “just doing” and I still hold to that. While you can’t drop everything to do whatever you want (well I guess actually you can if that’s what you want to do!), I still believe there are MANY opportunities that are missed out of fear. I will still hold true to “If you really want something you can achieve it/you can do it/ there is always a way.” I will get back there one day soon. For when that opportunity arises, you can be assured – I will take it. I write this again to inspire others to pay attention to what is holding them back. Is it a physical reason? or a psychological reason? If it’s money, you can overcome that. Do you really need that Latte from Starbucks, or can you stash that money away for your dream. If it’s psychological, you can overcome that too. It’s all a matter of choices. Are you stuck by the limitations of your employment? Are you really? I just want to challenge you to pay attention to your motives or lack thereof! “Where there’s a will there’s a way!”

There is so much to experience out there. Alex is a very personable young man. He is not afraid to begin a conversation to learn what he can about everything. He is not afraid to meet new people, to provide himself with knowledge, experiences, and opportunities. During his conversation with the woman who ran the place where he stayed, he shared how he came to be in Portugal. She ended up giving him a great deal on his room. While he was out and about he came across a shop with “old” money from countries around the world. He picked up a bill from the country where this woman grew up to give to her. She was so happy and grateful for his thoughtfulness. She gave him a coin that she had found. She had carried this around for years as a good luck charm because it had her year of birth on it. She wanted him to have it as his good luck charm. Turns out the bill that he gave her had his birth year on it too. So cool. He had conversations with various shop owners which led him to some possible business opportunities. He was finally able to stay with the friends he met last year (mentioned in my previous posts). Life can be so full if we are not afraid to step out and make connections.

He is now catching a flight to Milan, Italy to meet up with some more friends. He so enjoyed his time in Portugal, finding a new country that he completely adores. Between the natural beauty and the disposition of the people, he is in love. He told me the streets are filled with a vast array of art. So much beauty put into every day life. He has learned so much in the short time he was there. I have heard it is one of the best places to retire due to the low cost of living http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2014/06/10/11-reasons-to-retire-in-portugals-algarve. However if you need a job, not so great…job availability is also low.

One more week and he will be home. I miss my world traveller. I know he will only be home for short while, then head back there for the summer. He’s thinking about teaching English in Italy. Ah, to be young and carefree!

News from Lisbon Portugal

To begin my story, I will once again share that I believe God has a hand in our lives. I have been praying for my son to stay safe and for God to get him where he needs to be. His plans for this trip have not been smooth sailing, but my feeling is – at least he is in Europe! All of our experiences help us to learn and grow. At his point he was supposed to be in Italy. I guess he is where is supposed to be now. Any way, being in Paris, he was trying to find a flight out to a couple of different places where he was planning on visiting. He ended up with a flight to Lisbon (noted in my last post), where he intended to stay at a friend’s house. He booked the flight and planned on leaving his hotel at 11 a.m. to catch his 5 p.m. flight.

Now, this kid is harder to wake up than a Koala on Ambien. This day however, he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. alert and ready to go. He decides to begin his day and heads out to the train station at 9 a.m. (two hours earlier than planned) to get to the airport. He gets to the train station to find a bit of a commotion. He isn’t sure what is going on because no one is speaking English. This part of Paris is lacking in English speaking people. As my son, Alex, puts it “out of nowhere” a little old lady comes up to him speaking in French. He says, “Sorry only English.” She begins speaking to him in English explaining that the trains are delayed due to somebody putting iron on the tracks or something. Without him saying anything or asking for help, she begins to tell him what he needs to do, what trains he needs to take, to get to the airport on time. Even my son, who doesn’t believe that God intervenes in our lives, says what happened was rather strange. Had he not come two hours earlier than planned, and had this woman not helped him, he would have missed his plane.

This lady gets him all situated and begins to talk to him about photography. My son is very into photography so he’s excited to look at her photos. Then she tells him she has 40,000 of them and proceeds to show them to him, including photos of her grandkids. 40,000 photos – WOW, I thought I had a lot of pictures!!! Luckily he had a train to catch! My lovely boy says “Mom, she talked more than you!” Heeeey, I resemble that remark! I always love hearing that. Well, the truth is the truth. As you can tell from my blog, I love to “talk.” I’m chattier than a romp of giant river otters! What can I say, I have an extremely high level of the protein Foxp2 (a verbal communication inducing protein). I just love communicating!

So, ADHD…(cough cough), Alex, gets on a plane to Portugal. Did I mention he studied Portuguese (as well as Italian) in college. He sat next to a Portuguese couple who couldn’t speak English, but he was able to have somewhat of a conversation with them. They thought he was so funny. They shared that they didn’t think English people (he thinks they meant from England) were funny at all, but that he was very funny. They also told him that now they like Americans because they met him! Lol. They were very concerned that he would make it to where he needed to be. They asked him how he was going to get to his friends – would he be able to contact him. He told them he would find some internet and be in touch with him that way. They insisted he use their phone to call his friend. Again, I think God placed the right people at the right time for him to get to his destination. Alex, who adores Italy, thinks that Portugal may be even friendlier than Italy (although Italy is still number one with him). They don’t just help you by telling you, they help you by actually doing things for you.

He called his friend only to find that, unfortunately, his friend’s grandmother had passed away and he was not home. Now Alex had to find somewhere to stay. After perusing booking.com, he searched the internet to see what he could find something clean that was a little less expensive. He found a website called airbnb.com. and ended up in a city called Chiado. At airbnb.com, people from around the world welcome you into their home and rent a room in their home. He really likes it. The cost is low ($30), the people are friendly, the place is clean. Plus, if you refer someone and they stay somewhere you will get $25.00. If you get someone to sign up to host guests/renters, you get $75.00! His friend is expected to return tonight, so he will spend the next two days in Portugal. His next task is to find a flight to either Milan or Florence. HIs friends in Italy are anxiously awaiting his arrival. Bring on the next adventure!

Wander Vicariously – Europe Here I Come!

Since I am unable at this time to visit Europe. I am living vicariously through the adventurous free spirit of my son! He flew to Paris on Sunday. My very generous friend let him use one of her passes to go. Even though he is 21 years old, as his mother I cannot help, but worry about him. A natural instinct that I need to curb, using various techniques. I focus on the fact that I am not in control of what happens, and pray!

We drove 3 hours through the first storm of this winter season and I dropped him off at 3:00 p.m for his 5:15 flight. I get a call from him about an hour later saying his flight has been delayed until 8:30 p.m. due to technical difficulties. Yikes. Then a call…departing at 9:30 p.m. Then a text at 9:30 p.m…I am boarding the plane. No more texts. I go on this fantastic website that allows you to track a flight (stalk much?!). 10:00 sitting at the gate waiting departure…10:30…11:00…A bit after 11:00 p.m. the flight finally takes off. Throughout the night (yes, I did sleep a little) I watch this little picture of a plane move across the Atlantic. Destination France. I see the plane lands safely just after 6 a.m. our time.

Due to this delay, my son misses his flight from Paris to Italy. Why not a straight flight to Italy? For whatever reason, the price difference to fly into Italy from the U.S. is substantial, especially for a college student. Even though he has a pass, there are still fees attached. Then begins the race to find a new last minute flight that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Google has a flights page that gives you every flight there is and the price! It makes it very simple to see your choices. Even with google, he can’t find a doable fair. He has to wait until the next day to fly out. Hotel time. I will tell you, Booking.com is a great source to find a hotel on the cheap! You can find just about anything from a hostel to a five star hotel. it is very descriptive and has so many reviews. You can find whatever suits your needs!

Okay, so enough of the commercial for Booking.com. He finds a hotel for $65 and tells me about a $72 flight to Lisbon that he needs to book by midnight. He has a friend there. Italy is just to expensive last minute. I receive a text that his card won’t work, asking me to try and get it for him…then nothing! I don’t hear from him again. What?! I’m left hanging. I begin to worry again and decide, there is no point. He is 21 years old and can take care of himself. Still, I bought an international plan for him to be able to use his phone to text. Common courtesy would dictate to let me know what happened! I mean, hasn’t he seen the movie “Taken?” I would like an itinerary! Where are you at all times! Slap…oh boy, wait. Get ahold of yourself, Wendy! I know people would agree, he should let me know where he is. Fact of the matter is, you can talk to someone until you’re blue in the face about the way you would like things handled, but you can’t change anyone or force them to do things your way. You can only control your reaction to a situation. I choose to chill out and know he will contact me when he can.

Wait – I can’t help myself! I e-mail the hotel where he is staying asking them if he has checked in!!! They probably read it and said “Crazy American!” Click – trash. Either way, I wake up at 6 a.m. to a text saying he’s okay and catching a flight to Lisbon at 10 a.m. my time. What fun! Crazy, but fun! Life can be so exciting if we want it to be. I know some would say the way we do things is crazy. He really doesn’t have the resources to be doing what he’s doing, but he did it! At 21 I was working three jobs. i would never have dreamed of leaving the country. I was so responsible and so set on taking care of my mother that I never thought of traveling. It’s funny how we get stuck in our lives, set in our ways, never thinking that there is more out there that we can be a part of. Well, I know now. And while I am still responsible and I still have the overwhelming need to take care of others needs above my own, I at least know now that it is possible. I know you can’t just do whatever you want when you want, but when the opportunity arises, I am outta here! Take the golden ring whenever you can. Life is short! Live it and live it well!!! I recently had a friend say they wanted to go to New York because their son’s school band is playing at Carnegie Hall. Her husband responded, “Wait, can we afford that?” I said, “The question is, can you afford not to?! (I know, a bit cliche, but still true). 🙂

‘Tis the season…

…to be crabby! This Christmas was such a pleasant gift to me. The shopping days leading up to Christmas were unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I am so used to the overly crowded shopping malls and stores in Chicagoland, that Christmas shopping in Champaign was a walk in the park! I was so filled with Christmas spirit, so happy. I was literally singing while I shopped. Store clerks were noticing the happiness, even to share “You two are having too much fun!” to my daughter and me. It sparked a conversation of how crabby everyone seems to be. One clerk even shared that a customer threatened to punch her in the face!

I know life can be hard. I am not coming from a place of perfection when I say I was joyous during this holiday season. I was thankfully blessed with an overwhelming peace and joy this holiday. A reminder that this is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ! While everyone is wrapping up Christmas in the boxes from which it came, I am remembering that it has actually just begun. I will continue to celebrate Christmas until January 6th – the Epiphany. I wish I could feel the way I did on Christmas every day, wouldn’t that be wonderful! I wish that for all of you…Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!!!!!

Moving to Champaign

Moving backward, I will begin with my most recent adventure…Champaign. When we returned from Europe in Early August, I returned to taking care of my brother. We are from a southwest suburb of Chicago. We had to find a new place to live by October 1st because that is when his lease was up. I began to look for homes that would have a walk-in shower that would accommodate his shower chair. We couldn’t stay in the home he was in – not enough room for all of us, and no walk-in shower.

I tried to find a place in the suburbs of Chicago. We needed a place that had a room on the first floor with a walk-in shower. We needed three other bedrooms, plus it had to take pets, and of course we had a budget. It seemed like everywhere I looked, one thing would be missing. If it had a shower, it would only have two bedrooms, and on and on. If it had everything, it was out of our price range.

Before we left for Europe I had discussed moving to Champaign. My oldest son goes to college there and I thought he might be able to help me care for my brother if needed. I checked it out and found two places that would work for us. They were put on the back burner while we went on our trip. When we returned, I continued my search, but contacted the places in Champaign. They were still available. Everyone kept asking, “Where are you going to live?” I would respond, “I’m not sure, maybe Champaign, but I’m still looking around here.” The final week of September I applied to for one of the homes in Champaign. On the Friday before we moved I received the answer that it was available and we could move in on Tuesday.

I started packing over the weekend. Let me tell you, I seriously got rid of two 20 foot box trucks full of stuff prior to leaving for Europe. I could not believe how much stuff was still left. I didn’t want to ask anyone to help because I have moved so many times, I just couldn’t ask again. Luckily, my friend and her husband knew I couldn’t do it alone. I’ve know my friend all of her life (she’s a bit younger than I). She sent her husband, Jim, over to my house on Monday to help me start packing. THANK GOD is all I can say. If it weren’t for her insistence and just sending him over and then coming herself to help, I would have never gotten everything out. What a fiasco.

It’s funny how we think we can do things on our own. If you’re like me, I don’t like asking for help because I don’t want to put anyone out. The move wasn’t over yet. There were still items in three different places being stored. I told my friend, “I can do it myself.” Again – I was wrong. Thank God Jim knew better and came to help me. I thought we were both going to melt and disappear into a puddle of water….Exhaustion isn’t even the word…

Needless to say, we finally made it here. It’s so peaceful. Our home is beautiful. No clutter – which I completely LOVE. I will try to post some photos. I wrote this in October and put it into drafts. My how time flies. It’s already Christmas! Our first in our new home! Probably our only Christmas. I’m expecting to move again. Spin the wheel to see where!!!!!

Will You Be an Inspiration?

My journey tonight brings me to reflecting on where I am in life. I  have come to the realization that I am in one of those moments where you say “I have become my mother.” It’s not a typical form though. It’s not the “Because I said so…” moment. It’s the moment that I realize that I am basically RELIVING the SAME life my mother led. Married, divorced, raising children alone, an ex who doesn’t pay his child support, same health issues, struggling to get by, taking care of my brother (who is quadriplegic – for my mother it was her son). How does this happen? Do we subconsciously do this to ourselves? My mother was a wonderful lady. There are many traits I am proud to have received from her. However, her life (in general) is not one of them. I will not go into detail about her life (nor mine at the moment). But, I do know one thing. I can sit here and let it happen to me the way that it happened to her, or I can do something about it.

Sometimes life just seems so overwhelming. I really have to say that considering what has transpired in my life, I tend to be a fairly positive person. Some people have told me that they can’t believe I can still laugh after some of the things that have occurred in my life. I, however, choose to be grateful for what I do have; even grateful for those experiences which were somewhat horrendous. I choose to realize that, even though the sun hides quite a bit from me at times, I still have it better than most of the world just for the mere fact that I live in America.

I know I am just going through a rough time. It seems like a very long rough time, but I keep my hope alive by knowing that “someday” I will have the great gifts that are talked about by many. I know if I keep believing, if I keep striving and doing my part, that my day will come. With all the things that have happened, I still feel that I am very blessed. I have many wonderful friends, family, and a beautiful peaceful place to live. This is my journey. This is what makes me stronger. I hope that my life is one of inspiration and not of pity. Only I can make that happen. The way I respond to my experiences is what makes the difference!