The Shriver Report – Turning My Nightmare into a Fairytale
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Turning My Nightmare into a Fairytale

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My life is a fairytale come true. I own a beautiful home a few blocks from the beach. I drive a new car that just rolled off the factory floor. I have a wonderful husband who adores me and I am the mother of two amazing children. I get to spend as much time with my children as my heart desires. I get to travel the world with my family and I have a career that fulfills me. I am totally and completely in love with life.  Now, before you decide to hate me for making my dreams come true, let me just say that only a few years ago my life was nothing short of a nightmare.

In 2008 I faced a real “holy (bleep)” moment when everything I had built in my life came crashing down around me.  I had what others refer to as a mid-life crisis, but for me it became my mid-life rebirth. But before I get into that, let me back track a little further, all the way back to the beginning to be precise, so that you can see why my fairytale story is such an improbable one.

I was born into a secluded commune that held within its proverbial walls a lifestyle that makes most contemporary women shudder.  In that patriarchal, authoritarian society I understood from the time I was very small that women were worth less than men. From the belief that a woman’s worth is determined by the number of children she produced to the belief that God only loves poor people, I was told every irrational belief about money and success that has ever been sold to womankind. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you’re looking at my photo and saying, “Wow, she looks fabulous for being a hundred years old!” The truth is it was the 1970’s right in the heart of America.

As a highly spirited (aka rebellious) little girl, I tried my best to bite my tongue and buy into the beliefs about my supposed destiny.  But by the time I hit my late teens I could no longer pretend to be happy in the life my parents had chosen for me and decided to take my chances alone in the “real world.”  With no education, work experience, money or modeling from successful women and with the social skills of a toddler, I went in search of my happiness, determined to create my own destiny.

Making my way in a world I knew nothing about was not easy, but the feistiness inside me pushed me forward.  And to make a very long story short, my drive for independence and my free spirit, along with my insatiable appetite for talking and creativity, led me to become an entrepreneur.  After owning and selling several successful companies I started a business that I thought would leave my mark on the world and make a difference in the lives of other women.  I borrowed a large sum of money against my home and set about creating a day spa dedicated to pampering worn-out moms like me. But only a few months after I opened the doors to my brilliant new concept, the economy forced me to close my doors.

“When that business failed, I was devastated. I had put loads of money, a great deal of time and endless tears into that business.”  

When that business failed, I was devastated. I had put loads of money, a great deal of time and endless tears into that business.  It broke my heart, not only because my future happiness had rested on it, but because of the embarrassment I had to face in my community of women.  I began to disappear, holding myself hostage in my home out of shame for my failure.  Along with the emotional devastation of losing that business came the financial devastation that followed as my world crumbled around me.  As the economy plummeted my husband lost his income as well. My oldest child was diagnosed with a learning disorder and my toddler appeared to follow suit. The value of my home plummeted while I retained a mortgage payment that was higher than many household incomes – eventually forcing me into foreclosure. We lost all of our investments in the stock market and had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.  And my marriage, as you can imagine, was far from blissful.

“I started at the beginning, asking myself, ‘What do I want to do when I grow up?’ “

When we finally hit rock bottom I knew that somehow I had find a way back up.  I started at the beginning, asking myself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” It felt strange to be forty-something and asking myself that question, until I realized that I was not alone. It seemed to be the mantra for a lot of other women I began meeting at the time. I committed a half-hour each morning, before anyone else woke up, to spending time alone.  As I walked around my neighborhood each morning I began reconnect with myself. I discovered who I really am and what I really want to do with my life. And I began to see the opportunity in my adversity.  My inability to find work gave me the time to finish the books I had said that “someday” I would write. And it gave me the opportunity to pursue the dream I had denied myself for twenty years, the dream of teaching others how to chart their own path.

That brings me to where I am now. In finding myself, my relationship with my husband is better than ever. In learning to love and accept myself, I now see my children for the amazing teachers that they are in my life. And the best part is, I get to do work that I love and be rewarded for it. I am now an author and through my books, workshops and speeches, I get to help other women chart their own path and find their way to happiness. Watching another woman break into tears of gratitude for my service is just as rewarding as the money I make.  Probably more so, because it gives me a greater sense of purpose than just making money ever gave me.  My life has become a more beautiful fairytale than I ever imagined possible.

Looking back, if I could do one thing differently I would have listened to my intuition when it told me not to open the day spa. I could have invested that time to finishing my book instead of setting it aside for immediate gratification. I can honestly say that something really fabulous came out of my disaster. Had my latest business been successful, I never would have followed the dream that tugged at me all of my adult life.

 

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Victoria Reynolds is a Reporter for The Shriver Report.
Victoria Reynolds is a Practical Magic Mentor, Awe Inspiring Author, Spellbinding Speaker and Free Spirited Filmmaker. In short, she teaches practical tools and wisdom to create an enchanted life.
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