My Old House

Life’s Not About Accumulating “Stuff”

by Maureen on October 17, 2012

Back when we were flash with cash, buying things was a matter of getting in the car or going online and making the purchase.  No thought, no planning, no anticipation – I wanted it, I bought it.  Now don’t get me wrong, that WAS a lot of fun and there’s a lot to be said for being rewarded for your hard work.

You know there’s a but coming, don’t you?

In 2008 our world fell apart.  The financial crisis hit and within months it seemed that people in the US stopped buying, several really large investments evaporated into thin air and we were left reeling.  I didn’t believe it would last that long so I did a really stupid thing.  I used my superannuation to pay our staff for over a year.  I just knew we were inches away from recovery but that never happened.  My super was gone and we had to let all the staff go anyway.

So we sold our beautiful house with my gorgeous garden, my orchard, my veggie garden, my chooks and everything else for far less than it cost to build and we moved to something much smaller.  Our income is substantially (hugely) less than we were earning before and here’s where the but comes in…   we’re not any less happy.

John is still the same wonderful man he was when we met when neither of us had a pot to piss in and I suspect I’m still pretty okay to him too.  We still have the same wonderful friends, our family still loves us and we have our health.

For us, life has been the journey to learning that it’s much better to dash over to Belly Good for my favourite Rainbow Beef having John’s 100% attention than to travel around the world first class.  Honestly, it was just as much fun.  Okay maybe the food wasn’t as good as the $350 dinner in Osaka where we had a private chef slicing and frying garlic chips but I got more out of a heartfelt conversation last night.

My goals have changed.

I still work really hard to make ends meet and my joy now comes not from planning a big holiday or getting something schmick for the house but helping someone else begin to achieve their goals.  I’ve always been drawn to people who need me and I’m so grateful that John feels the same way I do about helping.  Yes, we’d probably be farther ahead in our recovery if we focused totally on ourselves but I think we’ve had a lot of emotional healing to go through.  Losing millions hurts.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently.  It affects your feeling of self worth, destroys your self-confidence and there’s a fair amount of grief that goes in there too.

We will be okay if we never get on top again.  It’s taken a long time to be able to say that.  Being happy together is our priority.  We’ll probably never retire because we love working but maybe we won’t have to work such long hours.  Thanks for listening to my story.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Madonna October 17, 2012 at 9:44 pm

What a beautiful and heartfelt story Maureen and thanks for sharing it.

I tend to look at everything in life now from a spiritual perspective and it doesn’t seem like a big stretch now to assume that the GFC was given to us to teach us what is important in life.

It seems you and John have got that message. You are both wonderfully giving people. Thank you for people who you are.

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Maureen October 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I’d appreciate a much cheaper lesson next time, thanks 🙂

That house IS pretty and it’s what we built together and then we got married there but it’s just bricks and mortar. When I’m on my deathbed it’s not the house I’ll be thinking about it’s all the great memories with people I’ll remember.

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Rodney Bukuya October 17, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I understand your pain. We lost everything just before our twins were born. It’s been a struggle and we’ve had a lot of changes to make but we’re stronger than Ithink we would have been without this lesson.

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Maureen October 17, 2012 at 10:54 pm

We’ll have to get together for dinner soon. A picnic 🙂 LOL Seriously, I’m a pretty good cook. You won’t get truffles though. 🙁

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Ann-Mhayra October 17, 2012 at 11:53 pm

I loved reading your story Maureen and that you are sharing the message that happiness doesn’t have a price tag. I have my own story of being one step from homeless and the empowerment that comes from that if you let it. The journey back is even sweeter isn’t it? Ann-Mhayra x

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Maureen October 18, 2012 at 9:53 am

I’m not back yet, but I must admit that the feelings I have knowing that I could get to the bottom and not fall through do make me stronger. I’ve stopped licking my wounds and questioning what I (we) did wrong. Thanks Ann-Mhayra for coming by to my little spot.

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Amanda October 18, 2012 at 6:50 am

Wow Maureen, that is such a great story of emotional success above everything. What a gift you would be to your clients. We go through what we go through to help people go through what we’ve been through.
Thank you for sharing!
Amanda x

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Maureen October 18, 2012 at 9:51 am

Thanks Amanda. Unfortunately I don’t have any clients. I just help people from my personal experience. We’ve been living full time off the net since 1996. I have a cooking blog where I earn money from an occasional sponsored post, get products to test and go on a few trips but so far that’s it. We have a business that’s for sale that makes money to live on and we’re just starting out writing plugins for WordPress blogs. Our first is EasyRecipe (obviously) and our second will launch soon and that will be a customer support ticket system. Mostly because we needed one for EasyRecipe support but there was nothing out there that works like we think it should. If someone writes a support query and we reply by email asking for more information and they don’t reply for 3 weeks, trying to match the 2nd reply with our reply and their first query turned out to be a problem. Then it’s a photo/visual index for the sidebar – like I have on my blog now. Then a full page searchable recipe index where the results are shown in a photo gallery. ER is doing REALLY well so there’s hope yet. 🙂 John is a very good programmer.

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Sharon Tregoning October 18, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks for sharing Maureen – powerful gift & totally sucky way to receive it!! xxx

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Maureen October 18, 2012 at 9:51 am

Sharon, you have the best way to describe “what is.” 🙂

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Sharon Tregoning October 18, 2012 at 2:10 pm

🙂 Oh, & by the way,, what’s with the older than dirt crap?? Hmmmmm?? Methinks this is an opportunity to use the “Liar, liar, pants on fire” line…mwah

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Maureen October 18, 2012 at 2:19 pm

It’s from a real-life experience in Atlanta.

“How old is your grandmother?”

“Granny’s older than dirt.”

🙂 he was 8

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Selina October 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hi Maureen,
I thoroughly enjoyed that blog, especially how real you are about the emotional experiences you have had thanks to this financial change in the world.
Wonderful.
Selina

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Maureen October 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Thanks, Selina, I know we’re not alone and hopefully all the dark days and the what-ifs are behind us.

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Marney Perna October 19, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Hi Maureen
I feel your initial shock…we also have been affected by events in 2008, although have managed to hold off selling our home.
I have found the ensuing years…shocking! confronting! down right shitty! and yet at the same time ….exciting! exhilarating! and interesting:) it has allowed me to re invent myself and dig deep within my personal tool box to find other ways and means to pick up, dust off and step forward.
Life is a journey and with it has a broad spectrum of experiences..good and not so good. Cheers

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Maureen October 19, 2012 at 10:12 pm

yes, they tell me that you need both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow and I think I have had all the rain necessary 🙂 I suspect you have too.

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Kathryn Hodges October 20, 2012 at 10:33 am

Hi Maureen,
Thank you for being brave to tell the truth. Not many people are.
Like so many, the GFC rocked our world.
To be going through such true difficult and stressful and vulnerable times, gave me a gift of real empathy for my clients. No longer was I “ok” and them “in trouble”. We were all just living life, tackling different pieces of it.
I believe I am a much better lawyer, and more importantly a better person, for my GFC imposed difficulties. Which I needed.
Let’s get these secrets out of the dark, so that others with their own troubles, know they have not been singled out. They are growing and changing. Like everyone around them.
K xxx

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Maureen October 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks, Kathryn. I know I’m not alone and sometimes that makes me feel better. I know you’ll understand when I say in the past there were times I didn’t care what anyone else was going through. 🙂 Life does get better.

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