My Story: Discovering Sustainable Wealth
My Story in Parts
Just a Girl in the World
Like many young girls, I adored Barbie dolls. I was obsessed, especially with the princesses – Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine – all of these female characters who encountered such serious life difficulties and found their way out of their hardships through their own courage and skill.
These dolls would:
- Communicate their needs with confidence
- Ease conflicts with grace
- Find ways to increase their personal power and influence without harm to others
- Partner with those involved to create wins for everyone
These amazingly capable dolls, however, didn’t have to worry about money.
I happily played in this self-made story world, letting my heroines solve the world’s problems with great skill, until one day during an epic adventure, I had my favorite princess Jasmine fall off her magic carpet on her way to rescue a child in town.
The fall was serious, not something that she could easily overcome. She needed immediate medical attention in my story but I found that my play space lacked a hospital (I did create a doctor but they lacked the necessary supplies).
My story required that Jasmine be restored to health so she could save the child.
In order to make that happen, I ran around my house looking for things that would count as medical equipment and in my search, I came across a toy catalogue that included a doll hospital complete with medical supplies. It was comprehensive and expensive.
Here was my chance to mend my dream world’s clash with reality, my chance to make things right and affirm my belief that money didn’t matter when lives were at stake.
After lots of begging and pleading to the keepers of the cash, the answer to them buying me the Barbie hospital was a resounding NO.
Without proper care, Jasmine died. And without Jasmine, the child suffered.
And my dream world shattered.
If only I had the money, I would help Jasmine so that she could save the child.
Money, I just needed money. With lots of money, I could create a world in which women were given every opportunity available to secure their future and the future of many others.
Fast Forward Many Years
At the tender age of 21, I started my career in management consulting with the sole objective of becoming the first woman in my family to make a six-figure income.
It wasn’t just income though that I sought, I wanted to be the first woman in my family to serve in a leadership position at a large company, to be the first woman who had enough money to donate to local charities and to serve on various non-profit boards. I wanted to be the first woman in my family to leave a lasting legacy of real, sustainable wealth not only for my family, but also for my community. My position at a Big 4 consulting firm served as the perfect launching point on the journey toward accomplishing that dream.
Then one morning in 2009, I woke up with a cough and some congestion. I shrugged it off as a cold and went about my day including going to work. Two weeks passed and this cold was now a hacking cough and I felt horribly run down. A quick trip to urgent care revealed that I had pneumonia and I was given antibiotics and told to take it easy. Thinking nothing of it, I did as the doctor suggested and I expected to get better.
A whole month passed since I got sick and I still wasn’t better. Realizing that all of the trips to urgent care were costing me a fortune, I managed to find a primary care doctor who would take me as a new patient while sick (I was told that ordinarily new patients establish care when they are healthy). Every visit ended with another prescription added to my treatment plan and a promise that each new drug would be just the ticket to health.
After several visits to the doctor, I was spending over $500 a month on medication, countless more on doctor co-pays, taking unpaid leave to go back to the doctor because my paid time off was gone, and I was STILL SICK.
Meanwhile, my company was laying off people as it recovered from the Great Recession and I felt that if I wasn’t at work more often, I’d be the next one laid off. Without a job, there would be no healthcare (COBRA was unaffordable) and I cringed at the thought of being as sick as I was and not having health insurance.
With work no longer accommodating all of my medical appointments and my doctor dismissing my issues and concerns, I was left sick and feeling miserable without a pathway out of this mess.
The two major systems that were supposed to take care of me (employment so I could pay my bills and doctors to keep me healthy so I could keep working) were failing me.
I spent the next three months continuing to battle this illness. After stalling in my progress and still unhealthy, I was on the verge of having to take medical disability when a co-worker stopped me in the office kitchenette and asked, “Have you considered getting an appointment with an Allergy & Immunologist?” I had no idea what she was talking about and my primary care doctor had never suggested it, but my coworker gave me a doctor’s name and a phone number and I scheduled an appointment that day.
Long story short, that Allergist completely transformed my health and greatly improved my ability to function. She didn’t, however, improve my financial situation. I still struggled to afford my medication and my savings had been obliterated which meant I had no money to cover the medical costs of an injury a few months later and I ended up having to take on debt to pay the bill.
I had good health insurance, I had a high-paying job, I was young and healthy yet one little illness almost cost me everything – my health, my job, and my security – or in other words, my wealth.
It was in that moment that I realized just how incredibly financially insecure I was. I realized that without my health, there would be no wealth; especially not in America.
A Shift In Perspective
With this realization, I decided to start really prioritizing my health. But when I tried, I found that I couldn’t focus on my health because my employer demanded so much of my personal time. It wasn’t enough that I worked eight+ hours in the office and commuted another two hours each day, but I had to answer calls and emails at night and on the weekends – spending time working that I would have spent caring for my body and mind.
Affordable healthcare providers also generally worked when I did so I’d have to take leave from work to see them. The high demands of my job, the lack of enough paid leave, performance metrics tied to my billable hours and the inflexible schedules of healthcare providers meant that choosing to take care of ME meant likely giving up part or all of my income. An impossible ask that didn’t even seem like a choice.
The high stress of my job was also taking a toll on my body – my overall health metrics weren’t great and my immune function was compromised from the lack of rest, lack of exercise and poor diet. The bottom line was I was not thriving, I was not flourishing and I was not prospering.
My dream of being the first woman in my family to earn six-figures was slowly fading.
A Turn of Events
I kept at this grinding, pursue my career and income potential at all costs lifestyle until one day while browsing the internet, I came across information related to management consulting, life expectancy, and pensions.
I had stumbled upon the details of a pension plan and in order to calculate the pension amounts, the pension had to calculate an expected life duration for its recipients, i.e. how long would the plan need to pay out the pension.
The expected life duration for eligible leaders in this plan was 63 years and leaders couldn’t claim their pension until they were 61. Given that the majority of the leaders in management consulting were male, their average life expectancy should have been around 78 years.
First off, this discovery validated that I wasn’t the only one whose health was suffering due to the demands of the job. Apparently, people who climbed the leadership ranks and became eligible for this plan had greatly reduced life expectancy and secondly, I asked myself: was continuing to pursue financial wealth in this industry really worth two measly years of cushy retirement? Would I even live to see 61 years old at the pace I was going?
I put my head in my hands and said to myself, “No, I cannot sustain this.”
I’ll never forget the raindrop-like tears that streamed down my cheeks and the guttural sobs that shook through my body when I admitted this to myself. I was devastated that I couldn’t hack it.
I felt like I was watching the door of opportunity slowly close with my dreams behind it and I just didn’t have the strength to keep holding open the heavy door.
I knew that management consulting was my life’s calling but that I could no longer plow forward and ignore the desperate pleas of my body to slow down. I began to start asking myself instead, what can I sustain? What feels within my current capacity? I didn’t like the answer at all but I knew it was my truth.
I realized that in order to save myself, I had to let go of the door.
A New Beginning
After processing the loss of my beloved career, I turned my attention to where I was in the present moment and realized that I was completely depleted.
My first step in healing was to focus on my physical and mental health. I leaned on all of my years of experience in management consulting working with clients and my master’s degree which taught me how to source and evaluate large amounts of information, to figure out how to better navigate the medical system, the healthcare industry and how to advocate to get real, life-changing care that didn’t cost me a fortune.
Once I was healthy again, I started digging deeper into who I was as a person – my values, beliefs, patterns of behavior, strengths, challenges and used that new awareness and understanding to redefine what I wanted out of my life – what real wealth looked like for me; not just financially but in the totality of my whole life’s experiences.
For real wealth is defined by the individual, not by anyone or anything else. It’s personal, it’s individual and in my experience, its definition is what remains when I released dreams that I had committed to yet were never really mine.
I used my health and my self-awareness to begin growing my knowledge in ways that felt true to who I was – my real passions and interests. Work stopped feeling like work as I found more and more places of creative flow, where time passed without awareness and my mind seemed to infinitely open and expand. The things I was learning felt so important and natural to my soul; real deep passions that I hadn’t given myself permission to even explore. Until now.
In building my reservoir of knowledge and personal experience, I started to meet people from a place of authenticity and real connection. Connecting from this genuine place can still feel overly exposing at times, vulnerability is still a tricky emotion for me, but the relationships I began building from this deeply rooted place weren’t like any other I had experienced in my life prior.
They were deep, emotionally quenching, soul-supporting and I felt truly seen.
Finding other women who were all experiencing similar situations as I was during this time created a vibrant community where we could share our wisdom with one another, provide support and deepen our bonds. These nourishing relationships form the bedrock that serves as a strong foundation which supports my continued growth today.
Yes, I am still learning, evolving and growing and will forever be. Cultivating real, sustainable wealth is a life-long journey. Sustainable wealth is about creating wealth from a place of love for yourself, love for others and love for your community.
Growing Sustainable Wealth is about the financial means we cultivate, the wisdom we share and the relationships we nourish.
For when women are wealthy, we will:
- Use our financial means and influence to buy seats at the tables of decision
- We will use our strength to throw open the heavy or locked doors of opportunity so that all may enter and
- We will use our resilience to secure the futures of generations to come.
Because that is what wealthy women do – we change the world.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey toward growing real, sustainable wealth.
Work With Me
Working with an Advocate means connecting with a partner for your journey. We may walk just a stretch together before you can navigate the rest on your own, or we can spend more time navigating an unknown territory.
Think of me as your Guide – someone who shares information, resources, and expertise with you but respects your right to make decisions. As an Advocate, I am someone who meets you right where you are and we walk down YOUR path together.
Interested in learning more about Advocacy and how it may support you on your journey toward growing Sustainable Wealth?
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