Couples Who Can Weather A Storm Can Survive A Drought. Marriage, Mergers & Meeting In The Middle…

I’ve had two former clients contact me this week regarding contemplating a divorce. They have both been spending more time together at home than they would like. They didn’t need a divorce, they needed to learn to communicate. They are learning. I’ve talked to both sets of couples extensively to assist them in finding coping skills for something they never expected. A pandemic that involves job loss and health fears.

Another client had decided she didn’t want to move forward with her May wedding.

After numerous phone calls and assuring her that her fiancée wasn’t lazy or unqualified and would find work again, she’s changed her mind.

Fear of her fiancé never working again was so real and terrifying to her that she had initially let fear guide her initial decision to “make a run for it.”

Still another client is upset she cannot move forward with funeral plans. It’s difficult to explain why someone can’t celebrate the life of their parent with friends and family. It’s also my reality.

I’ve been taking calls day and night from clients anxious and fearful about the future.

Clients who have lost their jobs in the past two weeks or taken wage cuts. Fearful of the future.

Clients who are struggling with learning to home school their own children.

Clients who are sick of being quarantined with their spouses and a handful of more clients who are fearful to go to the grocery store due to autoimmune disorders.

Meanwhile, I have new clients wanting to book services and pay a deposit that I’m advising them to hang onto.

Why? Because these clients may need their money far more than I do in this current economic status, I am waiving booking deposits and have been doing so for three weeks now.

The future is so uncertain for everyone right now that advising new bookings to save their money might sound odd to you from a business standpoint but I’m a mother first and businessperson second.

These new bookings may need their deposit money for household essentials.

All of my clients are family to me. I prefer they keep their money and provide for their family first and foremost.

A month ago, my life was normal. Predictable. Over scheduled and busy. A month ago I had 19 weddings on my books.

A month ago I was having a great start to wedding season. All of that has changed. Like anyone else, I dislike change.

Three weeks ago would be the first time in my life that people were contacting me for food or toilet paper.

For an entire week I shipped items to nursing homes and delivered food to doorsteps of elderly people for over a week.

I’ve been staying at home two weeks now. Everyone I could help I did. Cindy has too. Chivon is a family friend that grew up at Cindy’s house and best friend of one of her daughters. Cindy left money under her mat for Chivon last week.

Chivon has never been out of work. She is scared and trying to get her unemployment started. She has never filed unemployment before.

Chivon’s husband injured his hand and cannot work. These are tough times.

If you can help someone during this crisis, I suggest you do.

Why? Because compassion is learned by example. You are in a position to be your best person. We all are.

Last week, our neighborhood grocery store of 77 years, Roy Pope closed. For 77 years Roy Pope had survived hard times and yet within weeks of this virus they completely shut their doors. 77 years? It’s shocking.

I’ve been walking daily to keep my sanity. I haven’t driven in two weeks.

We moved to this neighborhood because it was quiet. Upscale. Appealing. Conveniently located.

We were downsizing from a 3400 square foot home. Empty nesters. We have 2400 square feet upstairs it’s more than we need but the price was right.

We had moved into this easily affordable home that had been vacant for years. Built in the 70’s with stained glass windows throughout, chandeliers, mirrored walls and funky rooms, this home was so different from the custom homes I’d lived in that it appealed to me. I loved the neighborhood. The convenience of having a family grocer one block away. The quiet life in the city suburbs.

My husband initially hated this house. Why? He’s a custom homebuilder who prefers energy efficient homes. A sparkling pool. Professional landscaping. He has always lived in custom homes. He’s a builder and developer.

There aren’t any crime free neighborhoods although I thought ours was when we moved here.

When the economy tanks, crime rises. Police are no longer arresting Class C Misdemeanors. The Fort Worth PD made this announcement also posted in the Star Telegram. Other police offices followed the lead of not pursuing Class C offenders.

Vandalism and theft are going to rise. Why? Because police don’t want to be in close contact with criminals.

Jails are releasing criminals. Prisons are considering doing the same thing. Releasing prisoners? YES.

Texas Governor Abbott issued an Executive Order to halt the release of inmates while other states amped up releases.

Why release inmates? To thin packed and close quartered inmates to prevent the spread of this virus.

Whatever your thoughts about this virus might be, rest assured that things are occurring that have never occurred before.

Police declining to arrest people? Yes. Authorities releasing inmates? Yes.

Millions of people now unemployed? Yes. People that were going to work paying off Christmas debt and doing well are now facing an extreme pay cut by getting an unemployment check.

Others are taking pay cuts and or working from home.

Oil has taken a nose dive. My husbands blue chip investments are no longer paying. It may be years before we collect another check on investments. But, we never counted on the income generated from my husbands or my mothers trusts.

My husband and I always put royalty checks into savings. We had learned to prepare years ago. The hard way was how we learned to stop using credit cards and overspending. It was a valuable lesson. We cut back. If we couldn’t pay cash for cars or anything else in the past ten years we didn’t buy it. We own everything out right. Nobody holds the paper on us. Sure we have credit cards but we rarely use them and if we do it’s for business a and paid in full every month. Credit cards can and will get you into trouble.

Tightening our belts after struggling the first few years of our marriage taught us both to be thrifty. People who survive a storm don’t fear a drought.

When my husband started getting social security checks last year they went into savings too.

By not taking holidays or buying another custom home we saved tens of thousands of dollars year after year after year. We preferred to keep money in the bank.

Real estate is risky and we know the risk. No one knows this more than a lifetime builder and developer. My husband laughs at house flipping shows that make it appear anyone can get rich overnight. He knows the problems of getting permits. He’s seen it all in 50 years of building. Flipping houses is risky kids. Don’t let those flipping shows fool you.

It’s difficult to believe all of the changes that have taken place due to this virus. An invisible enemy. One week everything was fine and the next it wasn’t? Shocking.

A busy March for me turned into cancellations and rescheduled events within a matter of days. I was shocked. Stunned. Disbelief washed over me. I told my husband anxiously watching the news and concerned about me going to 4 TDCJ Units, 2 FBOP, and an ICE Facility that “my Units aren’t going to cancel confirmed appointments. I’m not worried about this affecting my schedule.” Boom, all government facilities cancelled the following Monday. My traditional events on the weekends were canceled by the venues. My clients and I were dumbstruck. Months of planning flew out the window.

This type of scenario of nearly everyone being sent home unless they were an essential employee has never happened before so if you don’t take home security seriously, you should. Why? Because desperate people are capable of doing desperate things even in your nice neighborhood.

I live in a nice neighborhood but even on my quiet street away from the city, crime has risen. It usually does during the holidays but for a few years it did due to a criminal who found someone he thought he could hit up every few days for money. That someone was my neighbor, Ed.

The boogie man came to Byers Ave a few years ago. Crime ran rampant. The police always arrived just a few minutes behind criminals on foot or bike who could easily escape between houses.

For nearly two years on Byers Ave, I walked my dog armed due to a gang of hooligans that literally came into our neighborhood.

How did they get here? They walked or biked their way right into the neighborhood. They knocked on doors and asked for money. They approached people in their yards or garages. They scared and rattled my “we don’t have crime on Byers Ave” neighbors into going inside and locking their doors.

Sleepy Byers Ave? Yes. My husband and I nearly moved during this window. In fact, three neighbors did move.

It was a dangerous time to live on quiet and expensive Byers Ave folks but the danger could have been prevented if my friendly neighbors weren’t giving money to strangers knocking on their doors and asking for it. Shocked neighbors who had never been panhandled at home felt obligated to help a stranger standing at their door. True story.

I was putting up trash cans yesterday when stopped by my next door neighbor, Barry.

My neighbor, Barry had stopped me out of concern to ask “are you going to be okay? I noticed you haven’t been driving. Did you lose your job?”

This is a neighbor I regularly take hot meals to. Was he worried about me being able to help him? No.

He was worried about strangers in the neighborhood. The strangers are Census workers.

My husband and I have been preparing for an economic downward spiral like this for more than ten years now.

We have surveillance cameras, guns, plenty of food and money. We are more than “a little prepared.”

For those of you offended by my reference to guns, stay tuned. My good neighborhood was dangerous for nearly two years. Dangerous due to a group of strangers terrorizing it and my elderly neighbors. One of my neighbors during the window of chaos wore a gun to get in his suv or start his grill outdoors or even take his trash out. Other neighbors were shocked by his open carrying. I wasn’t. His window had been broken and the vandal stood on his porch daring him to come outside. He was being reactive. I understood why he was being overly cautious and why he eventually moved. Several of my neighbors moved during that window of not knowing what would happen next on Byers.

Since my neighbor, Barry was concerned about my husband and I, we had a discussion about why. My husband and I are financially fluid. If we never worked again we would live comfortably.

But, there are others who aren’t prepared. People who live paycheck to paycheck. People who will suffer financially. My neighbor, Barry isn’t one of them. But he lives alone and is elderly. He knows he can call me and I will come running. If he were to fall or be wary of a stranger ringing his bell, he can call. If he needs a hot meal, he can call. He knows all of these things.

Many of my neighbors call me if they see a suspicious character around or to ask what I’ve seen on my cameras. Why they haven’t installed cameras I have no idea. A few are catching on though. Why? Because I’ve advised them that my cameras are directed at our property not theirs.

Everyone on my street is pretty retired. Very few people go to work here. This is an older neighborhood of affluent neighbors.

Instead of worrying about money, they are concerned about looters. Installing cameras finally. Buying firearms. Sad but true. A number of my neighbors have asked “do you have a gun?” This isn’t the friendly chatter you might expect from your neighbor concerned you can take care of yourself folks. But is reality.

These neighbors are behind the curve. They survived a two year window of chaos on our streets when they should have been being proactive. But hindsight is 20/20. They are catching on. Someone calling me to ask “did you see that guy on a bike with a backpack? He looked suspicious.” My neighbors have become overly cautious. Unduly concerned. Frightened. Fearful. Isolated. People that haven’t talked to me in 8 years now take walks and stop to visit with me. People who never walked their neighborhood and much less met their neighbors are now making the effort. They have no choice. They are quarantined.

For over a year my neighborhood was terrorized by a group of three thugs. How they and why they chose this neighborhood I have no idea but assume that primarily this ruckus was because a handful of my neighbors were opening their door and giving money to this group of outsiders.

When you feed the sharks, they come back.

A few years ago, my neighbor had opened his door to a panhandler. The panhandler and a few of his friends would come back and came back again to the neighbor that was trying to be helpful. Ed was a nice guy and my next door neighbor. He was retired but took side work as a limo driver.

Ed also inadvertently made himself a target by being friendly to a stranger.

Finally, Ed stopped answering the door. They beat on his windows and terrorized him. I called the police. They broke the window of my other neighbors home on the night of the attack at Ed’s house. The police never made an arrest. The broken window cost my neighbor $1500. Her husband began open carrying on sleepy old Byers Ave.

Ed moved after all of the drama played out on Byers. Mary moved. Chris moved. Adam moved. My husband and I considered moving. We could be run off or stand our ground. We decided to stand our ground and install a wrought iron fence between our building to prevent these no good vandals from sneaking up on us in the driveway or in the garage. We became proactive.

How did Ed get involved in the first place? He was in his garage and was asked for $5 by a “stranger who saw me getting into my car.”

That stranger would be back and he would bring a friend. Ed had lived here for nearly 15 years but befriending a stranger opened a can of worms. Ed was being “neighborly.”

One Saturday as I was working on a Texas Twins Treasures item in my garage, I was approached by a “stranger” and asked for money. It was the same guy who had terrorized Ed into moving. I recognized him from my video cameras. He had taken to strolling the alley drinking beer. I saw him at all hours of the night on my cameras. I checked cameras before leaving my house to get in my suv, take out the trash, work in the yard or in my garage. My husband did too.

Even after Ed moved, the 2-3 guys kept coming back to Byers Ave. They had been hustling the neighborhood long enough to keep coming back.

I began writing neighborhood letters and flyers and passing them out. I needed my neighbors to close their garages and stop opening their doors.

I had been working on an antique dresser in my garage when the stranger no one wanted around strolled in. He was cocky and I’m certain he also assumed “intimidating” to me. He wasn’t.

For the record, a stranger walking into your garage is a threat. Why? You are isolated. They are also blocking you from leaving.

Alleys are dangerous. My husband hates alleys. Knowing the things going on in my neighborhood at the time, I had tucked a pistol in the back on my jeans to go work in the garage. Don’t be shocked. My good neighborhood had gone bad over a two year window that started when two neighbors began giving money to strangers. We were all aware of the danger. Unlike most of my neighbors though, I took precautions. My husband did too. We were prepared to defend ourselves. If you know you have a problem in your neighborhood, get an alarm. Use it. Get cameras. Use them. If someone has been broken into near you, consider how you will protect yourself rather than assuming you are safe from a burglary. No one is immune to crime.

There are no good neighborhoods anymore that are crime free. Your neighbors leaving their garage doors open invite crime.

I had warned the guy standing in my garage that I was armed. He backed out. I never saw him again in my alley. He stayed away from WorthamWorld. He never rang my doorbell either.

We finally got rid of a pack of hooligans on Byers Ave. It took a year though. A year of beer cans in our yards and drunks in the alleys. A year of being afraid to go for a walk. Roy Pope was robbed during that one year window.

One of my neighbors was shot for investigating a suspicious guy in his alley. They never found the shooter. They never found the robbers of Roy Pope although there was video surveillance. The robbers were wearing masks.

My neighbor no longer opens his garage to investigate strange noises. Luckily, he was shot in the shoulder with a 22 and not fatally injured. Thank God he wasn’t killed with two kids and a wife recovering from breast cancer. If you see something suspicious, call the police.

For a year during this window of chaos on Byers, I left notes on neighbors doors to keep their garages closed. I let them know my neighbor had been shot and another terrorized for giving money to a stranger. They wouldn’t have known had I not left these notes because they don’t talk to each other. Because all of them isolated themselves. They aren’t now because they are in forced isolation.

They might have become wary and sick of my neighborhood notes but they finally woke up and started closing their garages. Open garages are an open invitation to crime I cannot stress this enough. Close your garage.

My neighbors no longer open their doors to strangers. They learned not to. But they learned the hard way.

Occasionally, I still see an open garage with no one in it though. Some people never learn.

My elderly neighbor, Barry knows that I watch this neighborhood.

I watch out for people who thought installing 12 cameras when we moved in was “odd.” They thought we were alarmists. They don’t anymore. These folks should have been installing cameras years ago.

My husband and I moved in prepared. We know when someone doesn’t “fit in around here.” We keep an eye on strangers.

Our neighbors had a wake up call with three hoooligans demanding money over a two year window. Cars getting broken into. Strangers walking into open garages. Homes burglarized.

My neighbor who was shot shouldn’t have opened his garage that night to walk out into a dark alley. He should have called the police. He finally installed cameras last year. He lives behind me. A friendly guy that opened his garage to investigate unarmed and was shot.

I’m not afraid to use a gun and I know how to use one. In fact, my entire family does.

I was handed a shotgun as young as 10 or so on the farm at my aunts house. Why? Digging fence post, snakes are a real danger. On the farm, coyotes and other animals are dangerous.

In the city, the danger is strangers. The danger is assuming that living in a good neighborhood insulates you. It doesn’t.

Living in a good neighborhood brings crime to your area when your neighbor doesn’t lock their car or feeds the sharks by handing money to a stranger.

My neighbors learned. They learned to be fearful and wary but it was a difficult lesson. Having your neighbor shot will wake you up and it will wake you up quickly. I stay on the look out for my neighbors.

I’m homebound and down and have been for two full weeks.

My clients have called me, Skyped me, FaceTimed me, emailed or texted me and a few even decided to elope and get married in my driveway.

This morning I had a long conversation with one of my brides who is rethinking marriage because her fiancée was laid off.

For the record, being laid off or losing your job is already stressful.

Having your fiancée consider dumping you because you are unemployed is equally traumatic.

I decided to share my story with her. Many don’t know my story. In 2007, I married Matthew.

Everything was perfect. Our joint income was 300k. He had built a beautiful custom home for me and my son. We both drove luxury cars, regularly used credit cards, traveled and always ate at nice restaurants.

Worrying about money never entered our minds. We had a wonderful beginning to our marriage. Fairytale in fact.

In 2008, my husband lost his business. The real estate market crashed. He didn’t have any experience outside of building or development. It would be three years before he found work again.

A year into our marriage, the bottom fell out. I sold my jewelry, my furs, our furniture, our cars, his motorcycle and eventually we sold our home. We survived. We weathered a storm.

We also survived a drought that changed the way we had previously lived. We pay cash for our cars. We have no debt. We are prepared for this current economic downturn. But has the rest of my family? I decided to find out.

This morning, I called my son to inquire about their financial situation. It was a realistic concern. My son and his wife have a one month son and a new home. My son works for me, his father and my husband. His wife is on a work furlough. Were they prepared for a storm? Thankfully, my son has been saving. His hours may be cut at Mr G’s and McBee but he’s prepared. They will be okay.

I then called my niece, Leigh Ann. Alex is working from home at Point Hueneme. Leigh Ann is frequently an over spender. A call to me or her mother regarding “being overdrawn” is a regular occurrence. But, Leigh Ann listened and put back their income tax refund. They are prepared.

My niece, Stephaney is in treatment in Grove, Oklahoma. She works and pays a monthly rent of $800 to the group home. Thankfully, she is gainfully employed making airplane parts. Had she been working at her traditional choice of waitressing, she would be unemployed and her mother and I would be covering the rent in Grove. Instead, Stephaney is working overtime to send her friend of 20 years, Chivon money since Chivon lost her job at El Fenix.

If you aren’t prepared for what lies ahead, it’s time to start. We are at the tip of a sleep hill here and it may take 1-3 months or up to a year to recover financially for most of America.

Cindy and Steve are prepared. Cindy and Steve weathered a storm in 2007 when Steve was laid off after 23 years at Albertsons.

Cindy and Steve like Matthew and I don’t live beyond our needs. We haven’t in many years. We don’t drive luxury cars or take holidays. When we travel, our expenses are covered by the network or clients. We are either filming or working destination events or both. We don’t take vacations. We work and travel at the same time.

My son and his wife love to travel but like us they travel for work and slide in pleasure by visiting places or dining out while traveling for work.

I spoke with my sister, Tammy in Lompoc last week. She’s unemployed. She’s scared and she for the first time in her life filed for unemployment.

These are trying times ya all but, circle your wagons. Love is hard to find. If you found it, hang onto it. I did. I didn’t run when the chips were down with my husband. I hung in there and played the cards I had been dealt. My marriage was stronger for it…