For the Love of Money

I’m scared to see the movie Wolf, because I’m worried it might trigger PTSD.  I read the recent NYT article for For the Love of Money and I had flashbacks of an earlier life.  It would take years to tell the whole story. It’s all a huge circus under a tent called “investment banking.” But I can condense some of it into a quick short story…with a few pages from my journal at the time:

Imagine you are in a conference room with a deal team making a $50 million dollar pitch based off of a spreadsheet that has been together in haste. It’s a small amount compared to other deals you’ve worked on, but you are completely unqualified to be doing this.

Very rarely is an idea pitched to a client over the phone, but this happens to be one of those rare occurrences. You don’t have any real world experience in finance, you don’t even balance your checkbook. Your boss starts going through the numbers for the client. As he speaks to someone thousands of miles away through the speakerphone in the center of the conference table you suddenly realize in horror that the numbers he is going off of are wrong. It’s a stupid mistake but the math is incorrect because a formula didn’t copy correctly into the cell below it as it was put together in Excel. You try to comprehend how this could have happened and how you are going to prevent a decision from being made based on what your analyst and you have put together. Dear God, a fire alarm would be great about now. You write the words MATH WRONG! on your copy and slide it over to your boss. He keeps talking into the speakerphone and you see his face slowly turn bright red in anger as he realizes how far off the numbers are. You are slightly relieved that he knows about the error but then he begins to stutter and stammer and you realize he’s trying to do the math in his head to recover. You’ve forgotten your financial calculator and you try to do the math quickly by hand but your boss beats you to it. You glare across the table at your analyst, a young girl just out of college who doesn’t have any experience either.  “I’m going to kill you,” you mouth at her and she quickly avoids the issue by glancing down at her papers.

This is my boss’s fault you tell yourself. He’s put too much faith in me. I am human after all. He should have at least glanced over this before sending it to the client. You hear your boss apologizing for sending over the wrong version of the analysis and then he mutes the phone. “This is a shit show,” he yells at you and his face is beyond the shade of crimson at this point. He un-mutes the line to continue thanking the client for their time. When the client hangs up you dart out of the room and run to the nearest bathroom to throw up. You sit on the toilet seat and put your head against the wall. You drift off to sleep for a few minutes because you’ve slept a total of 4 hours in the last 72. You wake up to the sound of the door opening and, thinking you’ve blacked out, you wonder if there’s a certain point where 4 cups of coffee and a Red Bull backfire.

As you make your way back to your desk you run into one of  your other bosses.  You have several bosses, managing directors or MDs are what they are called.
“Hey, I need you to catch a plane to Atlanta in a few hours for this Project Pea.”
You nod okay because that’s what good associates do.
You finally make it back to your desk and you pick up the phone to call your analyst just to re-enforce how bad she should feel about what happened.
“What the f@%k,” you say into the phone before you realize she’s crying.
“My grandmother just died…” she begins.
“Well she has horrible timing.” You slam the phone back down and think about crying too.

“Does anyone know what Project Pea is?” You yell loudly over the cubicles but no one hears you. The bank uses secret code names for projects that are a merger or acquisition. You are forbidden from using the actual company name.
You pick up the phone and call your administrative assistant across the floor. “Can you book the next flight to Atlanta? Hotel too.”
You scramble to staff an analyst, pull materials together and figure out what the Project Pea meeting entails. You speed to the airport and barely catch the plane. The plane is half empty and you actually lay down on the bench of three seats to nap for an hour.

In Atlanta you catch a taxi to the hotel and ask hotel management if they can dry clean your suit and shirt overnight. The concierge picks up the clothes and you are left wearing nothing but a bathrobe until the morning. You try not to think about the possibility of a fire alarm.

At 8am the next morning you are in a meeting at a company you’ve never heard of before and you pretend to be an expert while asking questions of management. “Is the auto accessory industry seeing stronger consumer support this year?” The more generic the question the less chance of making yourself look like an idiot.

Afterwards you catch a taxi to the airport which is a piece of cake because you have zero luggage. When you get back home you find your car in the overnight lot and you have to pay out of pocket for half the parking but you wouldn’t have caught your plane otherwise. The bank only pays for a certain amount a day. The second you sit down into the driver’s seat you check your Blackberry and you have an email from a third managing director asking what your plans are for the weekend. You already know: You’ll be working.

 

That’s a true story. Every bit. Just a typical day. A glimpse into my life ten years ago in investment banking. I used to think that being an investment banker was all about the pursuit of money, but I think it’s also about arrogance, and the competitive need to prove you are ruthless and super human.  My doctor said she had more young investment bankers come through her office with heart attack symptoms than any other profession. I got my first taste of money when I was an analyst right out of college. I worked in foreign exchange and I kept track of the traders’ profit and loss.  I remember the head trader had about $60 million in profit at one point on the books and he would make millions from that in bonus. I knew I wanted to come back and do something like that. Everyone told me that was the right track. I applied to business school and graduated in the top of my class with an MBA.  I was offered a full time investment banking position back at the bank in between my first and second year. I worked my ass off. They threw money at me. I say yes. more. yes. more. thank you. but mostly: more.

By my third year as an associate, I was one of the highest paid associates in the bank.  I got the “sleeping bag” award for spending the most time at the office. I was in the top 5 of my associate class. My husband, at a competitor down the street, used to say that I was “un-firable” because I was a woman, a rarity in the IB world at the time. Sad but true. It seemed so wrong. And I was miserable:

I had two bosses who ran the investment banking division I was in.  One had come from a competitor bank and they threw loads of money at him. He drove Lamborghini or Ferrari….some type of flashy car. (Update: hubby says it was a Ferrari. I can’t even find my Prius in a parking lot, so shows how much I know.) He had a huge house with an impressive poker table and bar.  The other boss was more humble. He didn’t drive a flashy car.  His house wasn’t what I expected.  He cared if I was overworked.  He stood for something.  I was torn between the two lifestyles.

It would take the equivalent of an entire novel to explain what happened, but basically I slowly lost it.  I was raking in the money, but I was miserable.  It was a soul-sucking job.  It owned me. I slowly began revolting against the bank machine.  There is even a day I can point to when I basically cracked:

I was working for several managing directors by this point, this particular one I’ll call MD5.  MD5 had a trophy on his desk from one of the airlines for traveling an astronomical level of miles in one year. He asked me to put together an analysis of a telecommunications company, but it wasn’t a simple request. He wanted me to prepare an analysis that would require complex financial risk scenarios run twenty times over. I looked up from my paper where I was taking notes and as if I was bored out of my mind replied, “Um, no.” The room went quiet and I wondered who had the balls to say no to MD5 and then I realized it came from me. The analyst in the room put his head down to avoid any eye contact. MD5 looked at me with a funny little look on his face and said in defeat, “Oh. Um, okay.” The meeting was adjourned. Everyone was silent. It was like there was a glitch in the matrix. I was the glitch.

The interaction with MD5 made me a rock star for a few days. “Hackshaw said no to MD5,” quickly became floor folklore. I remember another MD saying: You are turning into a real bitch. He was joking but I agreed with him. I was.

I started paying attention to the people above me on the investment banking ladder and none of them seemed happy. They made gazillions of dollars and it never seemed like enough. It was an addiction.

I remember running late to the airport in late 2006. The bumper sticker on the car in front of me read: The aliens have just landed and they are eating the skinny blondes first. I passed the car and expected the driver to be brunette and overweight, but she was actually blonde and skinny. I arrived at the entrance to the airport at 7:15 and my flight was supposed to depart at 7:10. I made it through security and two terminals and the plane was somehow still there waiting for me.

“Wow, cutting it close this time,” MD6 said. It was this first time I was working with MD6 and this was not a great first impression to make.

“Well, I guess I’m just really supposed to be on this flight,” I joked, “because I did everything I could to try and miss it.” It was a fairly short flight to Norfolk, VA. We were on our way to meet with the private military company Blackwater located in Moyok, N.C.

A wood sign posted in front of a chain link fence marked the entrance to Blackwater. As we entered the 6,000 acre property the chain link fence ran to the right all the way to the horizon and the gravel road in front of us did the same. A small red sign read 3.8 miles and had an arrow pointing to the left showing which way we are supposed to go. It felt a little like we were entering Area 51.

In my company research I had scoured article after article about the four Blackwater contractors killed in Fallujah, their bodies burned and dragged through the streets but I also learned a more personal side of CEO Erik Prince. Erik Prince was an ex-Navy SEAL, and the heir to an auto parts fortune. His wife had died in 2003 from cancer and he was left with seven children to raise. When Erik joined us in a conference room and he was humble and gracious, nothing at all what I expected. I was not sure why I was so surprised that he was human.  I learned that Erik Prince started Blackwater after the Rwandan genocide. I had just watched Hotel Rwanda.

When our meeting concluded, Erik asked one of his employees to take us to firing range to test out a few weapons. A weapons specialists showed me how to shoot an M-4 and with the first pull of the trigger I was almost thrown backwards. I replanted my feet and I killed my target 10 times over.

“You’ve shot a weapon before,” the Blackwater guy whispered and I winked at him. I heard MD6 make a long whistle sound from behind me.
“Beginner’s luck,”
I said but I didn’t let on that I just happened to frequent the shooting range. The M-4 was so heavy that with each shot the bullet holes hit lower and lower towards the abdomen of the target sheet. “Why are you aiming for the groin area?” MD6 asked, “should I be worried?”

All of the sudden I felt ashamed of where I was. I was sure that every investment banking group that had paraded through here was taken to the firing range because that’s what we expected, entertainment. We were important. We had the money. They needed us. And my life consisted of flying first class, staying in nice hotels, working late hours, drinking in excess and boasting about how little sleep I could go on. It was a guy’s world, and I had been overly proud that I could hang with them.

Shortly after the trip to Blackwater, I was flipping through a National Geographic magazine and I came across a photo of a dead bird:

Victim: Albatross Chick, Age: 6 Months, Cause of death: Starvation due to full stomach. Contents of stomach: cigarette lighters, pump-top sprayer, nutshells, shotgun shells, broken clothespins, hundreds of plastic bits.

The photographer had taken the time to dissect the bird and lay out every single content that was in the baby bird’s stomach. I was overwhelmed at the mass collection of items the bird had eaten and was not able to digest. I felt kind of like that bird.  I was trying to amass money, things, anything I could….and I couldn’t even digest it.  Worse, I helped recruit new analysts and associates with the promise of a never-ending feast of money and glutton. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.

 

Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks
Had I from old and young !
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1798, Rime of the Ancient Mariner

When I read The Love of Money the other day and it put all of this into words for me:

The satisfaction wasn’t just about the money. It was about the power. Because of how smart and successful I was, it was someone else’s job to make me happy.

I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now for the first time, I was embarrassed for them, and for me. I made in a single year more than my mom made in her whole life. I knew that wasn’t fair; that wasn’t right. Yes, I was sharp, good with numbers. I had remarkable talents. But in the end I didn’t really do anything. I was a derivatives trader, and it occurred to me the world would hardly change at all if credit derivatives ceased to exist. Not so nurse practitioners. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted. -Sam Polk

The only difference between me and the author is that it wasn’t as hard for me to leave. You see, I quickly saw myself as just a miserable person to be around. My life was empty. I neglected everything that mattered. My husband and I never saw each other. He worked at the competition across the way. I wasn’t doing anything except for creating money from money. I just woke up one morning and I knew it was the right day to quit. I left all my deal “trophies” and belongings behind at the bank. I left my desk and didn’t even clean it out. I walked away. I was, in a way, a starving baby albatross. My husband walked away soon after.

 

Now we struggle to pay the bills sometimes, especially those large medical ones. Both self employed we have to worry about things I never thought I’d have to worry about. But we are doing things that are fulfilling and that matter. And we keep making changes. We keep simplifying day after day. We want less and less. And we always have enough.

P.S. I started writing this yesterday as Day 22 of 31 for The Year of Joy series….but it just kept growing. So let’s make this Day 22 & 23.  Thanks for the slack.

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Comments

  1. 1

    I didn’t know this about your past. But even the story sucks you in, I can’t imagine living it. So glad you walked out and started fresh with your hubby. You two do radiate joy (and you fare share of coffee enema stories). ;) Love ya girl!

  2. 3

    This post really resonates with me. I didn’t work in investment banking, but I have worked in finance for the past 17 years. First, I was in public accounting, so I audited banks, specialty finance, venture capital and investment banks. Now, I work in VC. I have seen the highs and the lows, and could see the mortgage crisis happening a mile away after auditing collaterizations. There are many in finance, and just CEO’s of many companies, that are way overpaid. They don’t think so, of course. They also don’t have much of a life outside of work. They are on a plane all the time. I don’t understand it. I used to work my a$$ off, too. I have kids now, though, and it. is. not. worth. it. I am well paid enough. I don’t want to dedicate my life to my job. I put in my hours, get my job done, and spend time as a family every night. We pay the bills and have extra left over at the end of the month. That is enough.

    • 4

      I agree. It’s kind of scary what some of the compensation packages are. It’s almost like play money. So glad you are in a good place!

      • 5

        I know…it IS kind of like play money. I don’t understand how someone could think, “Yeah, I am totally worth making $xx,xxx,xxx or $xxx,xxx,xxx”. Really?? Are they spinning gold out of their hair?? Nope! Some of them are even losing money at their companies, instituting RIF’s and still THEIR pay increases. Makes total sense. o-O There seems to be a disconnect from reality at a certain point. I think Wolf of Wall Street would be interesting to watch, and unfortunately, a true story for some.

      • 6
        Carrie Nulan says:

        I never leave comments, usually because I do not feel I have much to add to it, but you really touched my heart in every way. Growing up and graduating high school I wanted nothing more than to be an “investment banker”. I didn’t know how to start getting into that, and in my 20’s I was beyond insecure about myself, my looks and my intelligence to be able to pull that off, so I never became one and always wondered “what-if”. I went through a lot of jobs, got married and had kids at an age where most of my friends were climbing the corporate ladder. I sometimes felt like I missed out in my 20’s being a stay-at-home mom, pinching pennies to get by & wondering how I ended up here. I did enjoy my home status, do’t get me wrong. I enjoyed those babies, some days were tough as my husband worked pretty much 2 jobs and 7 days a week as a police officer so I could stay at home during their younger years. I have NO regrets, though I must say after reading your story it only solidifies what I have know for all of my 30’s and now heading into my 40’s. That really I could’ve been whatever I set my mind too, but really my core values and beliefs conflicted with that type of job. I was never going to make it because I have always valued time spent with my family. It was such an internal struggle with me because I thought I could have it all, but really in the end something always has to give, whether it’s your health, your spouses health, your relationships with your children, etc. And really having it all isn’t what everyone thinks it means. Once all of the boys were in school, I went back to work & started from the bottom up working in a very powerful law firm. Over the years I promoted to being the executive assistant to a very well known CEO/attorney. I left that because I could see my life becoming my work. I finally achieved what I thought was success, a very good job & title. It opened a lot of doors, I figured out that I didn’t need anyone to believe in me, only myself. I had finally learned that I never really wanted to be anything but a good mom to my children, a supportive wife to my husband and a person that can contribute to this world in a positive way,they money will come later, maybe not in droves the way we think it should, but having faith means you will always be taken care of. You will have just what you need. In my year as the assistant I was missing all of my sons activities, my husband cooked dinners, took them to all their games and even knew their schedule & homework. Every day I prayed that God would put me in a place where I could put my work to good use. I didn’t feel right I was not happy, and even when I was on vacation I was checking my phone, scared to see what I missed and always had to be 10 steps ahead of everyone. I made a decision to walk away & my husband supported me. People thought I was crazy to do so, but it was the best decision I ever made. Yes we have to struggle sometimes and learn to be more mindful of our dollars. We budget and pay for things in cash. It’s a great feeling doing that & I feel as though I DO have it all right now, but not in the way most people think all is. I have a loving husband, 3 healthy kind and normal boys, a very small house (2 bedrooms). I also followed my heart & now work for a non-profit where my heart has always wanted to go, but the pay was never going to be there. What I learned in all these years is that the pay is NEVER worth the stress and time you miss out on life. My life, the one I always wanted – to enjoy those that I love and the time spent together because we never know when our time is up or theirs. I truly am touched by your experiences and thank you so much for sharing, it really helps to know that we are all in the same boat, just looking to connect and reach out with one another. I wish you and your family all the best always.

  3. 7
    Dallas girl says:

    I just really needed to hear that today. I really did.

  4. 9

    so glad that you and your husband were brave enough to walk away.
    you have taught so many so much ….especially me.

  5. 11

    Wow. This story reads like its own book. I feel like this sometimes in my job. I love your current story and read your blog searching for how I can do it also. Have the courage to use my god given talents to do something that matters and is satisfying. Love your journey. Keep trucking. -W

  6. 13

    This is so amazing. My husband and I are struggling hard. We decided it best to quit my job because I was miserable (it was just a barely above minimum wage job that didn’t even let us meet all our bills anyway) and now we are just as miserable with no way to even leave the house because we don’t have he gas money. Despite that, this helps me stay focused on building a meaningful life and not just getting caught up in just the money. Our time will come. I guess.

  7. 15

    Holy AMAZING post. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  8. 17

    Thank you!

  9. 18

    You’re a rock star, Ashley, you really are! Walk proud and tall, you’re doing good work in the world now.

  10. 19

    I am not going back to work, just to pay bills. I will do something I love. Something that fills me up not breaks me down. Medical bills will wait….

    Thank you!

  11. 20

    Hi Ashley — I’m a long time reader and first time commenter (love your spirit and view of the world, by the way!).

    Reading your account of your IB years really resonated with me — tweak a few small details here and there and it could have been my life you were describing! (I was an M&A attorney in those same super secret code name deals for almost 10 years). Wow – I, too, could write an entire book on the topic of my former life, and suspect there is a decent amount of PTSD coursing through my veins (I still feel a surge of panic when I see someone checking a blackberry! – oh how I hated being tied to that damn blackberry 24/7!). I jumped into the profession with both feet, so excited and proud to be the first person in my family to have achieved such an enviable status. But the shine wore off quickly, and in no time, I was utterly miserable. Turns out I was never really interested in law – in all honesty, I just chose it as a career because of the financial rewards it promised (and turned my back from my true passions in life — art and writing, primarily).

    Like you, there was no opportunity to say “no” in the big law business — everything was “yes,” “right away,” and “it would be my pleasure to stay up all night to do this for you” (knowing that if you express anything less than full commitment to the firm, there was someone waiting in the wings to replace you in a heartbeat). All-nighters were commonplace, and the firm and the clients demanded top priority, above and beyond family or personal health concerns. And let’s be honest – no one really likes lawyers. Even outside of the litigation context, you are made to feel like a necessary evil at best. The psychology of that situation really wore me down. I was embarrassed to tell anyone what I did for a living, and would hedge around the topic when asked. (as a side note, a stranger I encountered in my office building once guessed that I was a lawyer out of the blue – when I asked him how he knew that, he said “the miserable look on your face is a dead giveaway” – ouch!). I felt myself morphing into something alien — a bitchy, bossy, and angry woman (when I had always thought of myself as friendly and easygoing). My husband and I bought a beautiful and way-too-expensive home, but I rarely spent waking hours in it. We took fabulous exotic vacations, but I was always miserable knowing that I would still have to work (draft documents, participate in conference calls, etc., etc. at all hours of the day and night because the clients couldn’t be inconvenienced by my personal schedule). More often than I would like to admit, I would fantasize about getting into a bad car accident or coming down with a serious illness so that I wouldn’t have to go to work the next day. One of my work friends pointed out my obvious envy at another co-worker who was taking a leave of absence because she had just suffered a very traumatic miscarriage (yikes – its embarrassing to admit these things – I was in a very sick place). I became over-the-top envious of literally everyone who wasn’t working as a lawyer – the baristas at Starbucks, the non-lawyers in my office, the parking garage attendants, etc., etc. I wanted to do something different, but I felt trapped. They were paying me a ridiculously huge salary, I had an amazing view from my swanky downtown office, and there were a million other material perks – you name it, they provided it. That was always my argument (and the argument of all of my colleagues) as to why we could never leave and work in some other career that we dreamed about (I can’t tell you how many of my colleagues dreamed of being school teachers, but the pay differential was just too huge after they had shackled themselves with those golden handcuffs!). One day, it dawned on me – they throw all of those luxuries at us because we would never do this insane job without them. I was living on the island of the Lotus Eaters, and I would never get away unless I was willing to give up all of the window dressing and ego-oriented material trappings.

    I, too, had a breaking point — it felt sudden, but in reality had been slowly building over those 10 years. It really started to unravel a few years earlier, when one of the young (and by all accounts, most successful and promising) partners in our office committed suicide (leaving behind a wife and very small children). In all honesty, he was a mean and very unhappy person, who was quick to tear someone down for any small mistake (being the senior associate, I spent many long hours trying to piece back together his latest junior associate victim so that the work could go on)). No one in charge was ever interested in trying to reform his behavior, or find out what was really going on in his head – he was bringing in big and lucrative international deals, and that was all that mattered. I was one of his protégés, and though I didn’t like him in the least, his death hit me very hard. No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t be certain that I wasn’t in his same spot a few years in the future. And that really frightened me. I was also given a disturbing glimpse behind the big law curtain when I watched the way my colleagues dealt with his death. This now dead man’s client matters were priority one, and we had to immediately make calls to all of the clients assuring them that their deals were being handled despite this little inconvenience. There was much positioning and posturing as the vultures (i.e., other partners in the firm) swept in from far and wide (it was a very large international firm) and tried to stake claim over his lucrative matters. I was even informed, behind closed doors, of how this man’s death was actually a wonderful opportunity for me, as I would be able to take over certain of his matters directly, and this would make me look that much better when I was trying to make partner. I couldn’t believe my ears – who were these people, and what alien planet were they from?! A man was dead and we were talking about career opportunities!

    Somehow, miraculously (and on a day-to-day basis), I managed to hang on two more years while my husband and I were rearranging our lives behind the scenes, and I finally walked away from all of that nonsense a little less than a year ago. Best decision I ever made, and one of the happiest days of my life. Perhaps the craziest part of this story – when I submitted my resignation and went office to office to let people know, every single one of my colleagues, without exception (including the top boss) expressed their envy of my ability to make a change, and how much they, too, would like to leave the practice. It’s a real tragedy that they can’t see a way out – life is just too short to live like that!

    A year later, we have significantly less income, but are a million times happier. Like you, we take things one day at a time now (and our financial future is less certain), but I no longer worry about dying of a stroke at my desk (or god forbid, a depression-related situation). I work hard to be joyful and appreciate the little things, and to just have fun. No regrets here!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story (and my apologies for hijacking this thread – I felt compelled to also share in case any of your readers is in a similar situation). Here’s my final thought on the topic — if you are miserable, make a change. I know it feels like you can’t, but you can. Its frightening and rife with the unknown (and I won’t lie – I still wake up some mornings and feel a little panicky about money), but its 1,000% worth it. No amount of money is worth spending your one, precious life doing something that is so very wrong for you.

  12. 22

    I saw “Wolf” having no idea what the content was and it was difficult to stomach. I have no idea how they avoided the NC-17 rating! Tons of nudity and graphic sexual content. It made “Dragon Tattoo” feel PG! It felt like we were watching porn. I know what they say the purpose was but I think the idea could have come across without all of that. I do love Leo and Jonah, but, seriously…I would have appreciated a fast forward option. Wait till it streams is my advice.

  13. 23

    Ashley, What a great read. Very interesting past life. So glad you escaped the madness

  14. 24

    So good! Thank you for sharing this story and a little background on your life. Love that you listened to what you needed and made changes.

  15. 25

    Wow! I’m often moved by your writing, Ashley, but this struck me very deeply. I am happy and content now with much, much less materially, but a full life rich with real purpose, as is yours. Thank you.

  16. 26

    Thank you for this post. I was literally sitting here trying to figure out bills and plan for my husbands upcoming career change. Getting very worried and frustrated on how we would make ends meet when I logged on Facebook and saw this pop up. A very wonderful reminder that we are going to be happy so we will be ok. Keep up the great work, I always enjoy reading! And thanks for the inspiration :)

  17. 27
    Melissa Z. says:

    With every post you continue to rock. People are very lucky to have you in their life. Early in our marriage, my husband and I made the decision he would quit his financially lucrative job, for many of the reasons you mentioned. He worked in marketing and simply felt his only purpose was to help the rich and richer by manipulating the masses. He left the corporate world and accepted a job as a fireman. Best choice ever.

  18. 28

    Thank you for being so vulnerable in this post. I believe it’s the most profound blog post I’ve ever read. I will be thinking about it for days.

  19. 29

    great post – so glad you found the courage to have a happy life and chose joy instead :)

  20. 30

    Wow, I am left emotional and speechless. Thank you for sharing your insides with us. I really needed to hear this today. Sounds like a chapter in your book to me! The song ‘Be Brave’ comes to mind right now ~ I think you are the epitome of that song. God bless you.

  21. 31

    You are awesome! Thank you for sharing your words with us.

  22. 32

    Even though I had the math ability to have such a job, I didn’t know such jobs existed when I was college age. thank goodness. It would have gone completely against my personality. I agree with the pay of these people as well. Upper crust bosses making millions with great benefits, while the guys and gals that clean the floors and toilets can barely scrape buy. Is their good work any less honorable?

    I remember the job that became TOO MUCH. I had finally had it, had typed up my letter of resignation and before I had time to had it over to the boss she had hauled me into her office and proceeded to lecture me for almost 2 hours without letting me interject one syllable much less a word. When she finally wound down, I handed her my letter and she was mad as she said it could have spared her this meeting. I told her I wanted to be the best employee even to my last minute (remember she hadn’t given me a chance to speak before this) then she open the letter and complained because instead of a full 2 week/14 day notice. I had given her 13 days assuming she really wouldn’t want me to come in and work a Monday and then disappear! On my last day at quitting time, I took off my badge, threw it on the desk and walked out alone. No one saw me go or said good-bye. I shook the dust of the place off my feet. I had no job to go to, a husband at the time that was a spend-a-holic and we were severely in debt, but I knew if I stayed I would die.

    12 years ago I got sick and walked out of another job in the middle of the day. I never got better and have never gone back to work. I have started my own on line business, I don’t wake to alarm clocks, I don’t drive in blizzards just because someone on the other side of the state says the weather is fine so we couldn’t use the weather as an excuse to stay safely at home. We don’t have much money, but God provides.

    I think more people have to understand that the joy in our life doesn’t come from what we accumulate, but in how we live our lives and how we minister to others in their distress.

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    Nicole L. says:

    What a well written story of how the beginning of your new life started. Thanks for sharing.

  24. 34

    Thank you for sharing. If you were to write a book, I would read it

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    I went to yoga this morning and the instructor walked around with a deck of inspirational cards to use during the meditation portion of the class, if we wanted. I randomly grabbed one, and it said something like, “success should be measured in joy”. It made me think of you, and this post specifically. Just wanted to share and let you know that a random woman in Washington is inspired by you and keeping you in my thoughts. Even when I’m supposed to be emptying my mind.

  26. 36

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. It resonates with me!

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    p.s. I’m in Beaumont, just outside the desert and I’m a little sad you’re leaving! Always thought it was cool to have one of my favorite “big bloggers” near me :)