Struggling With The Economy

My first day of the new year in 2008 was challenging.  I was working as a Store Manager for Starbucks and that day was the start of a new District manager for me and a new assistant manager to mentor and develop.  To make this challenging my assistant was new to the company and hadn't been trained right.  I was struggling to make a connection with my new District Manager and then things got worse.  A week in to the new year and my grandmother had a massive heart attack.   My grandmother was very close to me.  I had come from a divorced affected childhood and my grandparents had acted like parents to me and my sister.  So hearing the news of my grandmother shook my world.  Luckily I have a great wife who supported me through this and Starbucks was great making sure I was able to take time off to go to Tucson where she was.  In January she had gone on maternity leave and our plan was for her to be home with our daughter for at least one year to nurse and bond.

We ended up staying almost a week in Tucson before returning to our lives.  Then she got worse and we received notice from my father that his mother had passed on.  This was very hard for me to take.  I was fealing guilty for not visiting during the Thanksgiving holiday.  We had made other plans because I thought I wasn't going to be able to get off enough time to go, but I ended up having the time off.  So this was very hard on me.  Focusing at work was very hard and I wasn't giving my all to the store or to my Assistant.  I felt bad for her.  A week after coming to our store she was left alone pretty much every other week, as I traveled between Tucson and Orange County. Then my wife and I had a new person enter our life, my daughter Izabella. I spent time away from the store once again. This was a hard time for my Assistant.  Feeding her frustration even more was my lack of attention to mentoring and develping her.  So it was no surprise when she went to my District Manager and pointed out some areas I had been slipping in.  With out having a good connection and relationship with my boss I was alienated and investigated.  I was eventually written up for mistakes and was told that the investigation was over and that it was a fresh start for us all.  Little did I know my District Manager was still investigating.  By the next week I was suspended and finally terminated for the things I had been written up on. 

This was very hard for me to take.  I had just lost a person so dear to me, had brought a new life into the world and lost my job all in the span of about three months.  I was devestated.  During this time my uncles had been working hard at starting a window tinting and detailing business.  They lacked management and business acumen.  These were things I could bring to the table for them.  Unfortunately for me my wife was not for it.  Unfortunately for my wife I didn't listen to her.  I started working with my uncles and we started to see a huge increase in business and profits.  We ended up doing great through the summer and I wasn't taking money from the business as I was building up equity through my sweat.  Or so I thought. 


After the summer one of my uncles had decided to leave us for more consistent pay.  What had been happening is that one of my uncles kept spending money and wasting our profits.  When we confronted him he began to be very selfish and demanding that the business was his not ours since it was his idea.  This was another huge blow for my family.  It put a wedge between my wife and her family and his.  We ended up talking finally and we basically gave him the business to make sure there wasn't division in our families. 

Now it was about 9 months after losing my job and we were broke.  My wife and I were struggling in our relationship and something had to give.  Luckily I have a part time job working at a church as a Student Pastor.  This provided some money to pay for some of our bills.  We had been doing pretty good and had stayed on top of our responsibilities so up till now we had been ok.  Mostly from living off of savings and our 401k's.  I would never recommend taking out your 401k as you get heavily penalized but we had no choice.  With the prospect of having little to no income coming in I took another part time gig at a local grocery store.  I had been applying for jobs since leaving Starbucks but nothing ever panned out.  I never recieved a response from any of the jobs I had applied to.  This was hard for me since most ot the jobs I applied to I was very much qualified to do.  So this part time thing was a nice help during Christmas.  Then our hours were cut do to the economy being so bad.  I was getting worried when we recieved an amazing phone call.  My wife's work had asked for her back.  She had left them in June after her disability leave was over from having Izabella.  They even gave her a huge raise.  This was great news.

The last few months have been amazing for my wife and I.  I had to realize that I wan't listening to my partner.  That I didn't take her wisdom and insight as a priority.  I had ignored her and was blaming her for us being in this position.  But it was me.  I had to go to her and ask for forgivness.  That was one of the hardest yet most rewarding things I have ever done.  My wife is amazing and she is a great mother to my children.  She is my best friend and I left her in the dust for most of last year.   But I reconciled our issues and now we are stronger than ever.  This year has been hard on a lot of people and we are praying for them.  If that is you know we are praying for you.  One thing I know that is true.  God helped us learn about ourselves this year as we made decisions that were not the best.  We learned how to love each other better and how to look at our priorites in a new way.  No longer is the pursuit of money a priority to me.  I had spent the last ten years working long hours and taking precious time from my kids.  But this year I realized I could live off of nothing and still be happy.  What is important to me now is God,my wife, my kids and my ministry at church.   Those are the things that matter to me.

I hope you can see the struggles I went through this year and know there is something bigger than us here.  God is where we should focus our energies and priorities on.  I don't know how we made it this year since we had lost over 500000 dollars in income but we did.  We will be out of most of our debt in about 3 months.  But know that we put our faith in God and He delivered for us.  We never went with out food and our relationship with each other grew.  I have a growing youth ministry at my church that I know have more time to invest in.  All because I gave up my addiction to money.  My success is in my love for others and my family.  I hope this can encourage you in your struggle with finances this year.

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