Is it ever too late to start again?
Pain, fear, and anxiety. These are feelings that are very uncomfortable, and most of us strive to avoid them at all costs. However, I discovered that the circumstances that surrounded these feelings were what I needed to get me where I wanted to go! Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Let me explain.
My husband, David, owned a travel agency for almost 20 years, and I was a travel agent in the company. When he was diagnosed with cancer and could not work for an extended period of time, I was forced to learn how to run a travel company, which is very different from being a travel agent. I had to learn everything from how to use Quickbooks, doing payroll, paying taxes, and handling problems with clients and agents that crop up in the normal course of business. To make matters worse, everyone else in the company had been there longer than I had, so my being perceived as someone with authority was challenging. All of this was happening while I was in the midst of the emotional strain of going back and forth to the hospital for the numerous surgeries and procedures, not knowing if David was going to be OK.
To make matters worse, as I was learning my new roll, I discovered that David was not terribly organized, and I had to create new systems and procedures to make the company run more efficiently. Needless to say, my emotional coping skills were stretched past the breaking point.
This is when I discovered the wonderful and often unsung strength of women. Many of them either had cancer, or had partners who had cancer. I was able to talk, cry, and worry with them and slowly their collective strength buoyed me up until I was able to regain my own center.
I also asked for help wherever I could find it. I asked friends who were lawyers for legal advice. I asked accountants how to best organize a company. I asked employees what they thought was working, and what they thought wasn’t working. I asked our sales reps to show me how to read and interpret the sales reports. I spoke to many doctors, and got numerous opinions about David’s specific type of cancer. Finally, I took online self-help classes to find out how other people had learned to cope with extreme circumstances.
Something amazing happened. After listening to all the opinions, and sometimes conflicting advice, I was forced to come to terms with my inner greatness just to survive. We are all born with special, unique gifts that can get buried by the pressure that our parents, peers, and society put on us. By the time we are teenagers, we have forgotten who our real selves are. Sometimes it takes a crisis to resurrect these inherent gifts that are uniquely ours.
So how does my story end? David survived cancer and we are stronger as a couple because of it. I created streamlined systems so the company operates smoothly and is not dependent on one person. I was instrumental in getting rid of toxic clients, vendors and employees.
I created a bigger purpose for our company and every decision adheres to our core values We connect with our clients on a human level, not merely a transactional level, and create heartfelt travel experiences that generate understanding between cultures. We will only associate with clients, vendors, and employees that share these values so that everyone wins.
I am proud to say that at age 62, I gave birth to a new person and that person is me!