Friday, July 31, 2009

In the beginning and on to now - When Times Get Tough

Here's our story:

My name is Heather Jeffries. My husband and I married in 1996 after dating for about six months before he proposed. We've been hitched ever since.

In the beginning of our marriage I owned my own business and had for years before we ever met. My husband, Bud, was finishing his training and state exams for becoming a massage therapist when we began dating. I had definitive ideas about our life would be. I would own my business, he would do massage therapy, we would live in a nice house, in a nice area, our kids would go to a school in a good district, we would have two new vehicles, etc., etc., etc.

I had set in my mind the Utopian American dream and expected it would turn out in no way different. Yeah - I was wrong. Typical young naivety.

My husband's massage therapy license came at a time when our state was just starting to accept the fact that massage therapy is an actual, useful therapeutic procedure for the health of the body and not, I repeat not simply a fancy term for questionable sexual escapades. Clinics and wellness centers hiring for MT positions took one look at the behemoth Offensive Lineman from the University of Florida and quickly cast judgment that their clients would not be comfy in his presence. never mind the fact that he's one of the most gifted MTs having a natural ability to find those trouble spots and immediately quell the pain. He spent six months trying to land a clinic position while running his own mobile service through word-of-mouth, advertising and a portable massage table and chair. Eventually massage therapy became a back burner income and something he did more to benefit those in need of his assistance than as a viable income we depended upon.

My business, while great for a single or even a married individual whose spouse can share the time with them, took up so many hours of my day that it was not conducive to a great relationship builder at the beginning of a marriage. I owned a fitness center which had me in the facility approximately 15 hours per day. Then I was pregnant and it just became a far better solution to rid us of the business and find a new course in life.

Our son was born premature and with complications. Even with great insurance the medical bills were staggering. It took every dime we had to pay our living expenses and all the medical bills compounding daily. I even sold my car to keep us going. We were down to one vehicle and not one that my privileged, over-indulgent, self-absorbed lifestyle was accustomed to. By the end of the medical fiasco we had one old car, a mobile home, and one tiny little boy whom yes, I would do it all again for in a heartbeat.

Bud worked, I stayed home with Noah and I found out that life, marriage and motherhood had little to do with what I saw in commercials, talk shows or in movies. It was about our commitment to each other, all three of us, come hell or high water and the conscious choice to be dedicated to seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

In 2000 my husband began writing a strength training book focused on training for powerlifting. We launched a little website and opened a small storefront for the book and coming materials which were works in progress. I'll be honest - I was completely taken aback when he made an extra $19K his first year on the sales of that book alone.

From 2000 to 2008 that was our life. That website, his writing, speaking engagements, performances, book and DVD productions and training camps. We thought it was all in the bag, we were starting to see a major turn around in our financial life. We bought a new vehicle and moved into a nice-sized house in a great area and we were all very happy. Then in 2007 we started to see a down-turn in the economy and our materials which were want-to-have products and not need-to-have started to see a sharp decline in sales. The final blow came in summer in of 2008 when a group of trolling individuals on the net bought all of his products, duplicated them and put them up for public viewing and P2P sites. That killed it. Why buy something when you can view it/download it for free?

In April of this year we lost our house. I have to say that - house. I have to say it that way, because if I say, "home," it truly hurts entirely too much. More so because I'm in a place where I'm having to remind myself once again that my home is not in a building, but where I am with my family. Home can be a traditional house, an apartment, a mobile home, a travel trailer, an RV, a shelter, an alley or even a cardboard box for that matter. My family didn't change, just our location. We're still here, all three of us, together, strong and alive. Home is a state of mind - a feeling. It's sensation you get when all is right with the world around you and there is an inner peace. Our house is gone, but I still feel that peace when I look at my husband and son.

It feels as though we're starting over again, back at square one. Yes, it's a little scary, but it's caused us to have to reassess our abilities, what we have to offer our community and each other. I realized through this process of the last 13 years of marriage that I truly enjoy cooking, baking, and making that family-life into that home.

I think some reading this might think I'm not feminist enough and that's not the case at all. I've owned my own business long before I met my husband, my background before that was in engineering - a predominately male-oriented industry. I've been there-done that. What this is about is family. It's about finding the balance and building a stronger bond with those around you. It's about going back to basics, eliminating the excess, and building future generations of people who know where the importance and essence in life is to be found. It does not exist in a gaming system controller, the latest vehicle, the biggest house, the funkiest cell phone or best laptop. It lives in each other and the community around us.

Furthermore I think about the first few years of our marriage and how difficult it was. It's so easy for me to see why young marriages end in divorce. It's a quick fix for what seems like an impossible situation. It's not impossible. You just have to be willing to keep trudging through. Yes trudging may seem like an unpleasant word to describe it, but sometimes that's how it feels. Marriage is sometimes trudging - the point is to make sure you don't step on each other in the process.

I also don't feel this applies to just women. Men have just as much responsibility to make that family a home as we do and quite often these days more men are finding themselves in the position of being a single dad with primary or sole custody. Sometimes running a household or dealing with your kids... well to quote the old Flash Gordon movie from the 80's, it's like, "flying blind on a rocket cycle!"

Even now - as I type this I'm juggling playing phone tag on two business calls, defrosting fish for dinner, timing the rising of some bread dough, doing a load of laundry and attempting to thwart the advances of a Labrador puppy who thinks my scratching her ear should take precedence over the keyboard. That's not to mention everything rolling around in my mind of what needs to be done for the rest of the day, what has to be done by certain times so everyone else's schedules are on time, errands to be run and what needs to be prepped for tomorrow.

I remember one day several years ago my husband and I were talking at his parents' house about some business matters and things I had to do that day as well as dinner plans later and my sister-in-law chimed in, "Can I borrow her?"

Bud turned to look at her and asked, "What? Borrow who?"

Becky said, "Can I borrow your wife? I just realized - that's what I need. I need a wife."

I laughed at the time, but the other night I saw a locally run commercial on TV for a life coach. I laughed and thought, "Life coach?! I know more people who need a wife coach than a life coach."

So the advent of My Wife Coach came to pass. Offering a helping hand or suggestion to anyone in need. Young wife, mother, father, husband... it's all about family.

Till next time...