When I wrote about things falling apart last year, I was talking about my husband being laid off from his $100,000 engineering job. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world and looking back, it really was.
For a long time, things just kept getting worse. Phil was laid off from two different jobs in one year; we drained most of our retirement and investment accounts to pay bills; and I went off work because of everything mentioned above. And now we’re selling our home so we can avoid bankruptcy. Starting over never seemed so overwhelming.
I’m not going to pretend I never lost hope over those months because I did. I remember it getting so bad that I didn’t think I could continue on the way I was going. I sat outside a hospital emergency room for over an hour that day, contemplating whether I should go in. In the end, I thought about my family and friends and I was able to rally. I didn’t have to go in.
Marilyn Monroe was a 50’s pin-up girl and movie actress whose personal life was almost as infamous as she was famous. She was a woman of many contradictions and her addiction issues and troubled past didn’t make her life easy.
My favourite quote of all time comes from Marilyn. I like it because she is sharing the kind of wisdom that can only come from learning things the hard way – bad relationships, bad choices, and bad circumstances. Despite that fact, she’s an optimist at heart and that comes shining through in what she says. Very cool.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
I feel I can relate to all that a little bit. While money troubles were only a piece of my traumatic puzzle, I realize that I can still be hopeful. Phil, my husband, and I had several conversations about where we were going to end up. Most of those talks went in circles but as we moved into December, some things started to fall together, as it were, and we talked in a real way for the first time.
I realized I was at a crossroads. Our life was collapsing in on itself here in Calgary, Alberta, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t begin again elsewhere. Maybe our time here in Canada had run its course and we just needed to realize it. It was time to start over.
So now, we’ve made the decision to bid adieu to sub-zero winters and flat, featureless plains. Because now we are going to the United Kingdom. Goodbye huge, expensive house full of stuff we don’t need; goodbye 9 to 5 jobs with too little holiday time; and goodbye working to live and living to work.
No, we haven’t suddenly become independently wealthy but we have decided to shift our lives in a new direction. My husband is English so we’re able to start over in the UK with relatively little difficulty but the real change is with our perspective. We want to spend more time following our passions and discovering careers not bound to bosses.
So our house is no longer up for sale because we don’t have money to pay for it anymore – it’s up for sale so we can start our new life. Its our new silver thread in a weave of grey. The house sale will pay off the mortgage and most of our debt and we’ll be free to start over.
It’s not all roses, of course. We’ll have to save aggressively to replace our lost retirement funds but we’ll see a financial advisor and put a strategy into place. We’ll probably have to take jobs we don’t like and make sacrifices we don’t enjoy but I’d rather be on the bottom rung of a ladder I want to be on as opposed to the top of another (I apologize for all the clichés – they’re terrible but fitting).
For the first time in a long time, I’m excited for the end of life as I know it and I’m looking to something completely different. Look out England because here we come.