I’m sitting in my zero gravity massage chair. There’s a chunky blanket over my legs and atop sits my doorstep cat Gideon. I’ve made herbal tea and the essential oils diffuser is on.
It’s time to write.
It’s Been a Long Time
I should tell you
It’s been a long time since I’ve written like this. I call these passion pieces. These are the times when I sit down and just write what I’m thinking. I throw away the focus on search engine rankings, affiliate links, and lead magnets and just write.
My favorite pieces.
Sometimes, they are from the heart and other times from the head, and then there are pieces like this that are much of both.
I haven’t been able to write really since my divorce. Staying in my head has been easier. I’m also worried about hurting other people with my writing. And I do don’t great work when I’m being “filtered”.
I can’t find my voice, or at least I’ve been looking for a safe place for it. I’m going to try to keep this blog along the lines of what’s already “public”.
My husband and I have been very open about our gambling issues which I’ll address as we go on. And anything I say here is about our past.
I jumped heavily into recording training videos, growing my youtube channel, and writing “how to” blogs. Almost “machine-like”, this style of writing doesn’t require emotion and doesn’t bring me to tears.
And, I enjoy teaching and training very much, so they have a huge place in my life.
It’s been more than 2 years now though and I need to get back to “me” and start writing again.
Divorce Changed Me
This blog isn’t about divorce, specifically. But it’s very much the journey that
I included a table of contents so you can skip around to just the parts that interest you most if you like.
A lot of people close to me are getting a divorce right now, so maybe, by me talking about it, they can find something valuable, if not for anything else, it can be to know they are not alone.
This is intended to be a long blog post. Probably for me more than you although I hope you find some value in it.
I keep saying that divorce changed me.
I have to ask though, did the divorce change me into someone else or back into who I was supposed to be in the first place?
Honestly, I think the things I’m doing now in my every day life ARE, in fact, the things I would choose to do as me.
This version of me.
I’m choosing for my life the activities and businesses that are much like the things I enjoyed doing growing up.
I think in my marriage that I was actually doing things I didn’t enjoy.
I allowed way to much “default” in my life and allowed others to influence my decisions. Nobody “made me” do anything. I chose. It’s always a choice.
Today, I choose for me. And it’s amazing.
I met my now X-husband when I was 21 years old. He was 10 years older than me and I certainly looked up to him, even as an “authoriative” person in my life.
For over a decade it was his business, his money, his house, his cars, his ultimate decisions. And for a while, that was OK.
I never enjoyed “asking” for things. I was especially annoyed when I had to ask for the things that I needed every day. And I worked my Ass off. I truly did.
I enjoyed working very much, but it felt quite often like I was working for him rather than with him.
Even back then, I was the lead generator. I brought in all of our business, always. We owned a huge catering and entertainment company here in Las Vegas.
I did the marketing and ran the office, payroll, books and so forth.
As the years went on, I grew stonger. I began to truly understand my own gifts as a businesswoman, marketer, and a leader.
I’ll include that I also began to learn my gifts as a wife, but I’ll save that for a different website!
I hated our business.
Wow. I said it. There it is. Not sure I ever said that before. I did. And I resented it.
It was his business, and I was driving it. And I didn’t have the choices and freedom I do today. I didn’t mind the hard work, but I didn’t like what we did in general.
We had a lot of employees and I didn’t enjoy being a “manager”. We didn’t use the word leader back then and I had never heard of John Maxwell’s leadership books.
I was angry almost all day, every day.
We made a lot of money. We lived in a big house and drove nice cars. We took a lot of vacations and our kids had everything they wanted.
And overall, we were good together. I felt were matched well.
We were, however, covered by clouds of addiction. We both came from parents with addiction and together, we struggled as well. That made things extra hard.
As the years went on, something began to change. While I was still working from the crack of dawn to sunset, he wasn’t. He began leaving the office earlier and earlier. And I grew more bitter and more bitter.
I was in pain, emotionally and physically and that began a long battle with prescription medication. What started as a need to mask physical pain became a need to mask emotional pain.
Of course I had no idea that’s what I was doing, it just happened.
When someone came along and offered to buy our business, I originally said no way. I was fearful of what life would look like if we didn’t have this “purpose”.
After all, all we had ever known together was business.
We sold it. Around that time, everything was booming financially. The housing market was hot and we sold our house and made several hundred thousand in profit.
We had stocks and savings and with the payments from the business, our goal was to retire.
I was 34.
I’m going to save the next two years for another time, but I’ll just say that we got bored. When people in Vegas get bored, they wind up in the casinos. And when people who struggle with addiction wind up in casinos, they lose everything.
We lost everything.
Becoming a Real Estate Agent
I had just written about 1000 words on how and why I became a real estate agent, how we were top agents in the company but still broke due to gambling and then suddenly, WordPress failed and I lost the chapter.
I have no desire tonight to write it all again, so I’ll give you the condensed version.
We built from 2007 to 2009. We were top agents in our company and we were focused on listings. The Vegas market had been hit hard and we were doing mostly shortsales.
This meant that we were selling $30,000 condos as SHORT SALES!
Our average price range was $100,000 and we earned about $3000 per closing and split that with our team.
It was a rough couple of years.
In 2009, I was done. I was tired. I was addicted to pain medication. I was fed up with working hard and being broke. I didn’t want to be in the casinos.
I wanted better. I deserved better.
I chose change.
My husband didn’t want to make changes in his life that would lend to changes in mine, so I knew I had to leave.
I got a little condo for my 2 girls and myself and began to work on improving my life.
I took a job for the real estate broker and built a lead generation department. My husband took the real estate business.
I was finding a new spark for life again. I was discovering that there could be something better. I was still very much in love with my husband and was hoping every day that he too would find this and together, we could grow.
I spent some time that year on my perscription drug addiction. I got help. And I got off them. It was tough. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I knew that the drugs would kill me if kept taking as much as I was.
So I got help.
The first thing I did when I came home was ask him to come home. His business was failing and he needed a place to live. And I wanted our marriage back.
Not long after that, we moved to another brokerage. I was healthy and getting stronger every day.
We grew fast. We stayed out of the casinos. I threw everything I had into the real estate business.
Before we knew it, we were closing 100 units again in a year and average price ranges were climbing. The market was coming back and we had some breathing room.
While profits weren’t huge, business was good.
The Teacher Appears
As a child, I wanted to be a teacher. As a young certified interpreter for the deaf, I thought I might teach deaf children.
I wound up trading in those dreams to run my husbands business. My choice. Family never had the funds for me to go to college and I had dropped out of high school figuring “why bother”.
I was a straight A student until I discovered boys and from there it was all down hill. I could have done very well academically if I had chosen to.
The teacher in me always appears, anyway. My desire to teach everything I learn is overwhelming and I can’t, not, teach. I’m a teacher.
I began making videos of my marketing methods with real estate and caught the attention of many. I began speaking on stages and sitting on panels. I was interviewed by Gary Keller and many other leaders on my success in real estate.
In 2013, I built a training course called The Ballen Method. We made a lot of money on that course and spent a couple of years enjoying the profits of that work. We traveled together and I taught. This was my favorite year of our marriage.
I had no idea that just 3 years later our marriage would be over.
I also had no idea that my teaching was going to lead to something so big in my life today.
Stay tuned for 6 figure revelation in a section below.
While I was, and am, proud of the real estate business I built, I wasn’t happy with it. In fact, I was pretty miserable in the day to day real estate activities of running a team.
The hardest part about it all was that we didn’t both want to build
We were aging differently.
We were no longer on the same page. We didn’t want the same things. And resentment was growing, on both our parts. Trust was broken. Fear took over.
I think he felt like the dues were all paid and life should be different. We should be retired. I remember reminding him again and again that we made bad choices and don’t have the right to not work.
I was resentful because I never wanted to be in real estate and here I was hustling and running it while he was not even there anymore. To be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted to be either if I were him. The pressure was intense. And I was intense.
I expected us to both drive hard. I expected us to both chase the dreams we had always had together.
Until I realized, he wasn’t dreaming anymore. These dreams weren’t “ours”. They were mine. I was casting a vision over and over to someone who just wanted to live for today and didn’t want to think about tomorrow.
He told me over and over that he wanted to be retired. I even tried that for 1 year covering all of our bills so he could be retired or pursue whatever was in his heart. It wasn’t enough for him. We couldn’t find a way to make things work.
I won’t talk about all the ways I fought to save our marriage. I did. I fought hard. And I lost.
When I finally realized that there was not going to be any change, and when my husband essentially said he didn’t want to be with my anymore (in a certain way that I don’t want to repeat here), I knew I had to leave.
I found an apartment, and I gave him every opportunity to ask me not to leave. He never did.
And I left.
And it broke my heart.
I wish I could tell you how strong the instinct was, and still is, to protect myself. The need to be safe, to hide, to withdraw.
I got myself an adorable little apartment in a nice area of Summerlin (Las Vegas) where I always wanted to live.
While I didn’t have cash, I did have a new business I was building with my little brother. We were building real estate websites for agents and managing their blogs and pay per click etc.
I also still had income from The Ballen Method and some from real estate although I had dissolved the team when my I realized that I would be building it alone.
I changed it to a referral model and kept up with my lead generation charging 25% to send the referral out instead.
I didn’t have any money in the bank. My little brother actually financed all of the furniture for me because I left everything at the condo for my husband. I knew he wouldn’t be able to replace anything I took.
I heard rumors that I had left with all the money and all the “stuff”. There was no money, and I didn’t take anything except my mattress and my massage chair and a few pots and pans. I left almost everything, intenionally.
I heard my collectibles were sold off. At least they served a purpose.
I chose a place next to the pool so I could listen to the waterfall. I believe in the energy of water.
And while my heart was broken, I was at peace. In fact, It was the first time in my life that I felt peace.
Literally, the first time.
I dived into making training videos, blogging, and working on my search engine rankings for my business. I kept the money rolling in.
There wasn’t extra because I had huge court fees. My husband sued me for child support, alimony, emergency spousal support, and for our businesses.
My lawyer was expensive. And she was worth it.
I took the high road. I never bad mouthed him. I never said anything bad about him on social media. I never said what was happening in court even though I wanted to SCREAM it! I was hurting so bad.
I’d run into someone that would tell me rumors and I would actually just ask them not to.
I didn’t want to hear anything or know anything or say anything. And, I loved him. I didn’t have any desire to hurt him.
I do my best to keep my story, my story.
In the end, we decided on 50/50 custody, although that didn’t last long. I pay child support (even though I have full custody, don’t get me started on that one) but it actually goes to the IRS for back taxes (something my attorney negotiated (thank you Dawn)), he kept his real estate business, and I kept mine, and I kept the businesses I started in the past couple of years.
He got his truck. I got mine. So after paying around 10K per month for 6 months to battle out in courts (and it was gross), we both just left with what was “rightly ours” anyway. Man, we could have saved a lot of time, money and pain if we had just come together in the first place.
For the record, he doesn’t speak to me. His choice, not mine. I’m not sure why other than the fact that he has said more than once that he wants to avoid conflict.
And the not speaking part started 2 weeks before I left once I told him I was leaving.
And I’ve never gotten closure because of it.
My dreams are always of us getting divorced. I never, not even once have remembered a dream where we were together. We are always breaking up. In a million different ways.
The cacoon has been my safe place for the past couple of years and only recently did I decide to come out.
I got a butterfly on my wrist that is a symbol of the transformation I have been under the past two years.
And while I’m still craving the cacoon, I have begun to fly.
The 50 Pound Weight Loss
The strangest thing happened this January. I woke up one day and decided that I’m tired of talking about weight loss all the time.
I started the weight loss goal purely because my husband and I were going to be at the same convention. We were still married then, but going through divorce proceedings.
I didn’t want him to be able to say I got fat.
So that was it. 10 pounds led to 20. 20 led to 30. 30 led to 40. And honestly, I was pretty happy right there and pushed it to 50 so I could say I lost 50 pounds in 6 months. Then I put 10 back on and nestled at the 40 pound loss.
I became a keto coach because there was a high demand for it from my friends and “followers”. Out of the gate it was great and over time, it wore me out.
I don’t see myself as a “coach”. I see myself as a guide and a resource.
My goal is to build my KETO blog higher and work it more as a program and with less of me doing actual “coaching”.
It’s a cool program.
The 6-Figure Affiliate Income
Here’s where things get very interesting. One day last year, while pouring over financials, I realized that I was earning 6 figures in affiliate income alone.
An affiliate is someone that sends a customer to another brand, product, or service, generally through a website link.
Because I was a teacher, it was natural for me to talk about the software I used.
This led to other people signing up for software such as ListingstoLeads.com which was my first (and still strong) affiliate relationship.
While I knew it had potential, and we talked about it month over month, it wasn’t until it reached that mark that I had a huge A-ha!
No matter what happened with any of my businesses, I now had a 6 figure passive income.
I’m taking 7 of us on an Alaska Cruise this year paid for by one affiliate partnership ALONE! Now THAT is a big why!
The Bad News (or is it?)
Well, the bad news is that just as I was finding peace, and beginning to “chill”, I realized the opportunity in affiliate marketing.
I mean, if I built 6 figures in affiliate marketing just as a natural bi-product of what I do every day, what would it look like if I was to apply purpose?
And of course, the teacher in me re-appears and says
“Oh! New Skill. I Need to Teach this To Everyone!”
And by deciding to teach it, it added new demand and pressure to document it and teach it while I grow it.
I could just get real quiet over here and do my thing, but that’s not me. And money is awesome and allows us to do great things, but it’s rarely the true motivator for happiness.
I think I feel happiest when I share what I’m learning with others. I get lonely otherwise.
The 7th Stream
I’ve always heard that you need 7 streams of income to make a millionaire. I focused on that and last year I hit my 7th stream.
I have not yet hit my million. In fact, while I have streams from multiple sources, they aren’t all major streams. Some are more like “drips” than a stream still.
That being said, I’m comfortable. I’m enjoying life not worrying about money and I do a lot for my family and for others including people I don’t know. And that feels good.
I’m now earning about $1000 per month through new affiliate avenues such as youtube, google adsense, and Amazon associates and my goal is to get each of my websites earning $1000 per month and then on from there.
The 6 figures was earned in software, not from these new ventures. These were just started.
I still have IRS debt. Ugh. I paid off a huge chunk of it over the past 2 years. And sadly, you can’t split IRS debt. I can’t say “Hey, IRS, Make my X-husband pay 1/2 of this too”. Nope. They will take it wherever they can get it. There’s no “fair” there. There’s no “equal share”. We are one in the same.
I currently pay about $4000 every month on those taxes and will have them paid off around my 50th birthday. This plan allows me to still live today, make some investments, and work towards having that paid off as well.
And it’s possible I’ll get it all paid off early as I’m getting more aggressive with payments as my disposable income increases.
I’ve started another website geared towards the midlife woman. It’s called Midlife Monarch. I’m looking to use it as a sample website on building a niche website blog with the goal of earning affiliate income.
What About Love?
Well, I left that condo in October of 2016. And I have not been on one single date. I’ve had no desire and have rejected invites.
I haven’t placed myself in places to meet anyone really (unless you count line dancing and trust me it doesn’t count).
I’ve never once logged onto a dating website.
There’s honestly only been one person I’ve met in 2 years that I was even a little bit interested in and that fizzled out quickly.
Here’s what I believe.
I will love again. I will have someone to share the 2nd half of my life with. It will be a long, happy, wonderful partnership.
And it will arrive when it’s time. And I don’t know that it’s time.
My family and my busines are my focus. I feel closer than ever to finally having financial security that can’t be taken away from me. I want that. I crave that.
This year, is about that. I’m doing a lot for my family, and I’m doing alot to secure finances for me and for my family. That matters.
And I think when I feel good about that, then I’ll open up to what’s possible with relationships.
Tabs will be off to college in 2 years. That’s just a very short time to help build in whatever else I can right now to set her up for success.
She’s my focus. And helping Sabrina secure her future, that’s my focus. My brothers are my focus.
When it’s time to let go of some of that, I’ll know.
So I’m back in hustle mode right now as I work to build this 7th Stream Affiliate Marketing side. And I’m loving every minute of it.
I still need to work on healing some wounds. I’m insecure. I don’t feel safe anymore and I feel incredibly “unloved” and “unworthy”.
I’m more worried than ever about my age and my appearance.
The man I thought loved me more than anything, that would look me in the eyes and tell me I’m beautiful after I ugly cried for an hour. The man that seemingly couldn’t get enough of me, told me he was only in the marriage for our child.
Everything I thought to be true, suddenly wasn’t.
Who I’ve Become
Without thinking too much about it, I’m going to bullet point the ways I’d describe myself today as a 47 year old, midlife divorced business woman who has come a long way, but it is always on the journey to become.
As of today, this is what/who I’ve become:
- Patient (well, more than ever before)
I’d also say that because of my divorce and what happened during my marriage, I’ve also become
Where I’m Going
I believe it was in the visualizing and believing that manifested the joy I have in my life today.
I would set out there by the pool and say over and over again that “I always have everythign I need” and “Money flows to me easily and freely” and “My life is abundant and I give abundantly”.
I have always known that I would have everything I need.
I believe that will continue. I believe by the end of 2019 that I my financial security will be in place. By the end of 2019, I’ll have the right measures in place to protect my family.
I plan to continue to focus on my affiliate marketing business, and niche websites through 2019 while still maintaining my teaching/speaking business, real estate business, keto program and growing my marketing company. I also have the anti-aging hair care partnership with Monat as well as a couple of other business ventures (investments).
2020 will be home stretch. I expect hustle and play that year!
In 2021 Tabs will graduate high school.
I plan to be speaking a lot and traveling. I will be traveling with people I love and tracing my roots to see where my family lines came from and continue building our family history.
I want to visit family cemeteries and clean headstones, pay my respects, honor them.
I can picture long peaceful hours in old libraries pouring over tattered pages looking for the hidden gems that have never made it online.
I will be part of several tribes where I fit. I will finally find this place where I feel safe and like “one” of the many that gather there. And I will contribute in big ways.
I will give. I will Teach. I will Love.
And I will write this book – The incredible Journey of Becoming.