Monday, July 30, 2012

A Kick in the Teeth

Walt Disney said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Well, I was definitely getting a good kick in the teeth.

To get to the point where you file for bankruptcy you have to hit rock bottom. However, getting to that point is a gradual decline. It does not happen over night.

As things continued to deteriorate, I continued to naively believe that I could turn things around and get back on top of this mess that I had made for myself and my family. I just needed a little bit of luck and I needed to work harder. I think that’s a reasonable response to a self-inflicted challenge, don’t you? Funny thing though, it takes a long time for reality to set in when you become desperate. And I was desperate. That desperation quickly turned to depression. That depression fluctuated between depression and anger.

Well I’m tired of being angry. I’ve been angry for a long time and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

When you file for bankruptcy, the first thing you do is fill out a bankruptcy packet. The purpose of this is to give the bankruptcy court an in-depth look at your financial history. If they’re going to grant you bankruptcy relief, they want to know everything about you. In addition to that, they want you to understand what went wrong so that the same thing doesn’t happen again. Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

I had to provide them a detailed asset and liability sheet, a profit and loss statement, tax returns, and in my case the most emotionally draining document, a detailed list of all of our possessions and a value. Why was this so difficult? Because it caused me to look at my possessions and realize that this is what I had worked my whole life for. Nothing but stuff. Crap really. Don’t get me wrong, I like having nice things, but it really shed a light on what my priorities had been.
The real questions I started to ask myself were, “Outside of this stuff I’ve accumulated, what is my life worth?”  “Do my kids know I love them?” “Do they know they are more important to me than anything else in the world?” “Does Michelle, my wife know I love her, and do I show that in a way that she not only knows it, but feels it?” “Have I made an impact in the world that I can truly feel proud of?” “What is my legacy?” I’d been kicked in the mouth with a steel-toed boot. I’m not satisfied with how I answered any of those questions. I’d become just another rat in the cage, working to survive and surviving to work.

We are all faced with the challenge of coming to know who we are. We must individually decide what our personal values are and then commit to living by those values. No one else should have that power over us. It is an individual mandate. What did I learn from filling out those bankruptcy forms? Man, know thyself.

As always thank you for reading this blog entry and please feel free to share my blog that you think this might help.

Warmest Regards,
Scot Boley    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Foreclosure Notice

I know that there are a lot of people that are going through something similar to this or some other devastating challenge. It may be the end of a marriage or someone dealing with a physical or emotional aliment. For all of those challenges you’re dealing with I’m sorry.

The reason that I’ve decided to write this blog is because there were a lot of times that I felt absolutely alone. I was depressed and angry and felt hopeless. I did not know where to go. It’s my hope that by sharing my story, it will give those of you going through your own struggles that knowledge that you are not alone.

We knew we were going to lose the house.  The writing was on the wall and it was just a matter of time. Even knowing that, when I got home from work that day and saw the foreclosure notice on the garage it knocked the wind completely out of me. I felt like I had been hit in the chest with a sledge hammer. I stepped to the side of the house and lost it. Michelle and the girls hadn’t seen the notice yet and I had to break the news to them. First I had to compose myself. I needed to be stoic and reassuring. Michelle and I needed to provide the kids with a sense of stability. We needed to make sure that they felt secure. But how was I supposed to do that when things were anything but secure?

They were giving us 30 days to move out.

You see bankruptcy is very much a psychological challenge. Everything about it denotes failure. It was a reflection of my inability to provide for my family. As a man, and like most men, I have always prided myself on my ability to provide. That is my job….. my responsibility. This bankruptcy represented an attack on my inadequacies. My inability to fulfill my responsibilities to the ones I love.

I went into the house, found Michelle, pulled her into our bedroom and told her. We hugged each other and cried. You see, at that moment it wasn’t about us and it wasn’t about the house. It was about the kids. We both felt like we were failing them. They didn’t bring this onto themselves, we brought this onto them. It was a rough day.

We decided not to tell them that day. We had 30 days to move and we needed to think carefully about where we were going to go and what we were going to say. However, that night sitting there in that house that was no longer ours, we sat with our girls and talked and laughed about what had happened to them during the day. Kenna described to us the new moves she was learning for the high school drill team. Mady filled us in on her little boy crush. And Bella just laughed and giggled the whole time because……..well, that’s Bella. We had a lot to be thankful for.

The lesson that I learned from that is to be thankful for what I have today. Somehow or another tomorrow will take care of itself. Many of you are probably like me; you look at your life in terms of where you’re going to be in 5 or 10 years. Its common, we all look towards the future, but in the process often times forget the present. How many times in our daily lives are we so rushed that we forget to enjoy the moment? Today will come and go but we don’t even realize it because we’re so focused on tomorrow. Savor the moments we have today, tomorrow will take care of itself.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Beginning

July 23, 2012

It is with much trepidation that I have made the decision to start this blog. I have come to the conclusion that we live in a hyper-sensitive society in which, out of embarrassment, we often times hide the most pivotal experiences in our lives. We publicly celebrate our accomplishments and victories, but hide the experiences that make us who we are. With that said, I open myself up to whatever may come from this. It is my absolute belief that through our greatest challenges we become our strongest selves. I do this to share my challenges and the invaluable lessons I’ve learned from them.

I’ve decided that laughter truly is the best medicine. Looking back on it now, some of the experiences I’ve had over the last few years are absolutely hilarious. If it were someone else telling me the story and they were good natured about it, I would find it completely amusing. With that said, I also know that truly comes down to perspective. My perspective has changed drastically through my experiences and frankly a light bulb has finally gone on. It’s like stepping out into the warm sun after a long winter lull, or the first time I kissed my wife; it’s exhilarating. Quick disclaimer, just because I used that example of kissing my wife for the first time, does not mean it’s not exhilarating when I kiss her now.

For the record, I like quotes. I will periodically use them if I think that it will help me clarify a point. One of my favorites is by that astute purveyor of the English language Yogi Berra.

 “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.”

 Huh, what? I know, although that statement makes little sense on the surface, it describes perfectly where I was. I was lost and I didn’t know it. I had done all of the things I thought I was supposed to do to get to where I thought I wanted to be in life just to realize that I really didn’t know where I wanted to be. How’s that for a run-on sentence?
Let me describe to you my career path.  I have spent my entire professional career working with some of the largest retailers in the world, helping them formulate commercial real estate strategies for their businesses growth. My expertise was helping these companies successfully execute their growth strategies by helping them understand the demographic patterns and spending habits of the Rocky Mountain Region. I’m good at my job. However, when the market started to collapse it happened fast. Plans for expansion were tabled and in the process my business began to dry up. I was in a state of panic. That was 2008.
Luckily Michelle, my wife, had built a successful business and I felt fortunate that we could continue to build that while my business slowly turned around.
That all changed quickly. Michelle’s business literally burned down four days after she received her Christmas inventory. The Landlord was replacing the roof and one of the contractors had dropped a cigarette butt into the rafters. Before we knew it the whole building was gone. We we’re in trouble.
That was the beginning of my personal transformation. I was thrust into a very uncomfortable situation, and my carefully crafted life began to unravel. Thus began my education, learning the most valuable lessons I could ever learn.
Two years later after having lost everything, our automobiles being repossessed, our home foreclosed on and filing for bankruptcy, Michelle and I still have the most valuable gift one could ever have. We have each other and we have our three wonderful daughters. Life continued on and I had learned some valuable life lessons that I could only learn by growing through this hardship. Looking back on it now, I feel so fortunate to have gone through this experience. I would not see things the same way unless I had experienced this.

I am going to continually update this blog with my stories and the lessons I’ve learned. Please email me, or message me on Facebook and I promise I’ll respond. Also, please share this with anyone that you may feel this might help.

Yours Truly,
Scot Boley