Okay, so let’s talk real talk. I have never been one to worry about age, or even milestone ages. We had kids young, so when I was having my 4th baby in 5 years I was SOOO thankful that I would be 25 when she came. Jeff would be 25 too! He is 9-ish months younger than I am. We had our first at 19 and 20, and they just kept on coming, much to Jeff’s questioning. Does he even know what caused this? If we had a dollar for every time we were asked this, we’d be rich! I loved the babies! Jeff was much more “cautious” about his excitement for our rapidly growing family.
An additional part of our story is that when we were 19, newly married, and 34 weeks pregnant with our first babe…oh and I had just been put on bed rest and had to quit working, Jeff quit his job. We both worked at apartment complexes, he was in property maintenance and I was in leasing, both still in college full time. We did not have two nickels to rub together. We had just bought our first property, a mediocre townhouse, with cool neighbors, except the ones that dug through Jeff’s truck every day and stole tools, and bad design choices we made as new DIYers. Whatever man. What 19 year old knows you should not paint melamine cabinets? Not us. Plus there was a couch that was stuck, and stayed stuck, at the bottom of our basement stairs for weeks. So obviously we were smart and prepared for real life at this time. Obviously. Bring on the babies! Quit our jobs! Start a business that we had exactly ZERO knowledge about. Good ideas stamping this time of our life every way you look.
Jeff quit one night after a middle of the night call to fix a toilet. It was on a Sunday night, he was “on call” and had to respond to any maintenance emergencies. That weekend, we spent Saturday and Sunday building a fence for Red Lobster. They had a contractor run out on them, and for WHO KNOWS HOW they got our number. Our “company” was exactly 1 week old. A friend of ours had convinced Jeff to start a fence company. Jeff had made a flyer, likely using Print Shop (If you are our age you know) and handed them out to a new neighborhood that needed fences. Someone got our flyer and asked us to finish the Red Lobster fence. It was a good weekend, fond memories from this time. Like the one where my father in law and I had our first disagreement when I didn’t know how to tell them when the pickets went above the string line. And the one when my sister in law and I were in the bathroom and I got stuck because my belly was so big I could not get out of the stall. It was fun, actually. And when we got done (by “we” I mean not me, I just got in the way) Jeff got a check that was more than his two-week paycheck at the apartments. So when the call came in about the toilet, he was out. OUT. Maybe he gave them notice, I don’t remember, but he was done. He checked out and handed out flyers every day until he got more fences. He got more fences. And we still own this fence company today. It has been…a long time of building fences. We have expanded the business to other things, but this has remained the core of our business.
All that to say, we are here, many, many years later. We have evolved and grown. We have grown a real estate business and a construction company. Jeff has built a rep firm that sells kitchen and bath products for manufacturers to dealers. We get by okay, we do now, thankfully, have two nickels to rub together. And we also have 4 teenage daughters, 19, 17, 15 and 14. We like them lots, please don’t tell us “poor you.” But please send prayers. This is not for the faint of heart.
Today we are approaching 40. Me sooner than Jeff. He is still working harder than anyone I have ever known, and I am still holding down the fort here acting like a stay at home mom while we are running a few businesses and putting kids through college. Easy? Nope. Scary? Every day. But we are committed to this idea of never working for anyone. We never really have. We do it our way, mistakes, trials, struggles, triumphs and ALL the things. It’s a lot of good and bad. We give ourselves one night a week to be together, to let loose and to act like we don’t carry big, heavy struggles on our shoulders. For the rest of the week, we buck up and work dang hard. But, this milestone is evoking a bit of uncomfortable for us. I have very little time to finally be skinny by 40, maybe not? 6 weeks is enough time, right? It took me 4 babies to get this chubby. I think 6 weeks seems reasonable, after 14 years since my last baby was born. Getting my pre-baby body back seems right on time. I am so thankful you agree. That saggy skin bikini body has never looked so appealing. Obviously never more appealing than good green chili or cheese, but whatever man. Get over it. I am mostly over it.
5 weeks and 6 days to 40. I’VE GOT THIS! All in all, we have been successful in many ways. And also, we have gotten very comfortable in our current level of success, until now. Maybe it is having two kids in college next year, and 8+ more years of kids in college. By the way, have you priced out college? Again, not for the faint of heart. Today is inspiring a new level of business growth. It isn’t that these business ideas haven’t been present before now, they have ALWAYS been here! But we are being pushed to a new level of achievement. Not because we have have more in order to live. But because we CAN do it. Maybe it’s 40? Maybe it’s just bills? Maybe it’s stage of life, I have zero idea why, but now is the time. We have to get uncomfortable, REAL uncomfortable. I have decided today that instead of listing goals and dreams, we have done that many times along the way, that I am going to name achievements we will accomplish next. They haven’t happened yet. Some of them have been dreamed of for years. Others of them are new, refreshed ideas in light of the confidence that this stage of life offers. It is our nature, both Jeff’s and mine, to make ourselves small so we don’t scare the people around us while we dream in private. Our dreams always make us the crazy friends/family members. We have learned to keep them mostly to ourselves. Some people say “yay you! Go!” Those people are few and far between. (Thank you “those” friends!) Most people look at us like we are absolutely nuts and try to talk us out of every idea, with good reason. I get it. Not everyone can risk the way we have. But we have always been on the wings of ideas, and we have certainly crashed plenty! But today marks a new confidence in us. Not to make anyone else small. Not to be better or have more than anyone else, but because I know we can. So, why stay small?
Today I will speak these goals as accomplishments. We will accomplish them. Eventually. There is no time stamp on many of them because that is of the world. The big ones, we will accomplish them when the time is right, when we have learned enough and push ourselves hard enough to get out of our own way to make them happen. Others, have a time stamp, for me, to make sure I have accountability to progress. Here we go!
We have bought a lot to build a house by my 40th birthday. 5 weeks, 6 days. We are sitting on that lot with a blanket and a picnic on closing day, dreaming of the plans for the house will are building. Shiplap, cabinets, and wood beams consumes our conversation first and then us. We cheers to us. We are doing this!
I will GC the house building project. Get out of my way boys!
We have closed down the fence company, or sold it, by 6/1/20. Jeff is only building fences for special projects only, like vacations, or retirement account boosts. Jeff works when he chooses to.
By, 1/1/2020, the rep firm is thriving and growing. We are both working on it daily. It is covering 100% of our annual budget.
I am selling houses to clients that refer me daily because they were served at the highest level. All of our real estate income is paying off debt until we are debt free. After that, it is split for travel, investment and retirement. I have a team of people that allow me to coach and train as my main job. I never work evenings or weekends, but I am always here for my team. The people that work for me are making a generous amount of money and accomplishing their goals and dreams.
We are building companies than allow our employees to dream BIG dreams! We continue to 1. inspire them to dream. 2. Build a bigger business for them to achieve their dreams.
We give! I am serving at God Behind Bars, GraceFull Cafe, and Covered in Feathers regularly. We tithe without discussion or worry.
Jeff hunts! He takes long trips to hunt and when he leaves he doesn’t have to think about work. I get a facial any time I want, at least once a month. An any time he wants me to come hunt with him I go, not worrying about my physical ability to keep up with him. I keep a good “guy camp” when him and the boys hunt. They wake up to breakfast and come home to dinner.
We are free to take things for ourselves, in whatever way we want. A trip, clothes, an ATV or camper, there is no guilt for us to take something for ourselves.
I write every day. I write without worrying about who is reading what I write. My story is both giving life and courage to others and life and courage to myself. My story is mine, just as it should be, I am offering it up. I am rested in what happens next.
Those wrinkles on your brow and around your eyes, they aren’t good or bad, they just are. They are yours. Love them..and buy products, expensive ones to combat them. Night Wrinkle Reduction Serum and washing your face is no longer optional. By 10/9/2019 have a daily regiment…Whit, maybe it’s time to wash your face at night regularly? Actually that day came 9+ years ago. Your lines are showing! “I just woke up like this” has been long passed along to your girls. Get serum immediately. And eye cream. And essential oils. They are Essential! Your face needs you. Also Jeff, wear sunscreen and that hat all the asian guys wear. There is a reason the asian gays look 30 when they are 100. You are white, get ALL the help! You are behind the curve when it comes to your face. Me too. Gosh, let’s embrace our weathered faces. We have earned these lines!
We have fully forgiven the ones that weren’t good to us along the way. And we also feel confident letting go of toxic people in our lives, no matter who they are. We have no guilt, and have replaced guilt with great confidence in being healthy in our relationships. We spend time with the ones that are good to one another, through it all. We speak life into each other and we have FUN together!
We may not live in this house forever, but we have always had a front porch. And a back porch. Just for us to enjoy. These are my favorite views, at every time of day. I enjoy our porches in the morning, coffee, sunrises, and plans for the day. I love them at night, quiet, dark, and alone for us to dream our best dreams together. Our porches matter. For forever! This house isn’t so bad. It has great porches. Remember this when you want to find “better.” Porches matter.
We paddle board together, take walks together, work out together, wake up together, drink great coffee together, reminisce over photos of our earlier years together and value that simple time, late nights and drinks. We have found peace in us, just as always but ‘us” just simplified. Just you and me. That is enough for any day.
We have friends, ones we can cry with, be vulnerable and safe with. Friends that we invite over when our house and/or life is a mess. Friends that make us excited to hang out because we have fun! We laugh lots, mostly at ourselves. Maybe we even play golf? Maybe. Probably not. I like things I can be good at from the start. Golf isn’t one of those things. Mostly we laugh and adventure together.
We are on our way. To where? Who knows, but this 40-ish view is taking definition and I love who we are shaping up to be….and to dreaming to be. We’ve got this! What’s the song? In My Next 30 Years? Well, I missed that one. I was barely breathing. We were busy, but I can finally breathe, and breathe life into some new dreams again! So, in my next 40 years, I just hope that I have valued every day as a gift. Who even thought we would ever be 40? I am not sure how we got here. Me an my guy, the way we still look at each other is just like we are still 19. I am utterly in love with you and this life, so, so thankful. The greatest view I have ever had is from the front porch looking in. That gift will never be lost with me.