The Joy of Now
I was supposed to wait. But, I couldn't. I squeezed my husband's hand as we watched them open the envelope . . . . My mom's eyes grew wide and she started to cry a little. My dad was shocked and then he got teary.
"Oh, Kim. Oh honey. You didn't, did you?"
I went and hugged my parents and simply told them how much I loved them.
What I was supposed to do was wait until the last night of our trip to tell them. But, I couldn't. I was too excited. (I never did have any patience.) I surprised my parents with a cruise in a double-decker, three-bedroom suite on an upcoming sailing trip. (This means we will have a butler, our meals personally prepared, private entrance and departure in all ports, just to name some of the luxury perks.) And we will visit Puerto Rico, where my parents first went on their honeymoon.
Why did I give them this trip?
Because now I can, and getting to do things for and with my loved ones is one of the greatest blessings of my life. Of course, things weren't always this way . . .
Growing up, my parents instilled in me a love of travel, for which I will always be grateful. We didn't have a lot of money, so we took car trips (flashback to the station wagon with the rear/death-trap seat that always made me feel like throwing up) when we would stay on Army bases or in discount hotels. My mom would exhaust herself for days beforehand, making lunches and breakfasts to bring on the road to save money.
We would always have a great time (our favorite thing was the hotel pool!), but I know the stress it put on my folks. When they spent money on these extra adventures, it would cause anxiety and worry for them for some time after. They didn't have extra money. They didn't have peace about it. But, they took us anyway, because they are incredible parents who wanted us to be happy.
On my own.
When I was out of the house and starting my firm at 26, I found myself worse off than they were. I was broker than broke-is-broke broke. There was no chance of a vacation. In fact, I didn't travel, unless it was for work, for 10 years. Ten years.
I could neither afford the money nor the time to do it. Either would set me even farther back in the deep, dark hole of debt I had dug for myself. I was being tormented by clients who didn't pay us much, staff who wanted to get paid, and an internal tension of wanting it all to somehow, someway get magically better.
Years after the Army base family trips, I would discover direct response marketing, apply it to social media and create a way to generate leads and sales without a marketing budget. I began to grow my business and then scale the growth profitably. In short, I was digging out of the hole of debt and starting to make real money. And doing the same for our clients.
I started to get requests from companies around the world to do business with us. They were ready and willing to pay top dollar, which they did and still do. Now we pick and choose who we want to do business with. As in, I haven't answered an RFP in more than seven years. I don't chase prospects. I don't cold call.
I work with those who come wanting to hire us and to pay us handsomely to get measurable results. It is rewarding to work with these businesses and to help them achieve their mission through profitable marketing.
It pays well.
But, financial freedom doesn't just mean less stress about money. It means having the freedom to spend more time and do more things for those you love. Without fear. Without stress. Without worry. Just with a lot of love.
What brings me the most joy now . . . isn't the house at the shore. It was surprising my kids after we bought it, after moving from place to place for the previous several years, that this was ours. We were staying.
It is not merely the ability to do more: It was the reaction of my husband when I surprised him with tickets to the Army-Navy game so that he and my dad can go and do their "man bonding" and relive their military years.
It is not simply tithing: It is being able to support outreach initiatives at my church so we can get creative when it comes to finding those seeking to let them know they are welcome just as they are.
It is not having employees: It is surprising my staff with in-office massages, gym memberships, beach retreats, and plenty of Veuve. Because, c'mon: Veuve.
It is not just getting time away: It is spending long vacations with my family, and bringing my parents along to see my kids who get to spend more time with their MeMaw and PopPop. It is watching them have joy, creating memories that will last forever.
Having an agency that can produce profitable marketing for ourselves and others is my game changer. It has transformed the businesses of the hundreds of clients and thousands of students and members who have gone through our programs. It is a gift to me. And so I gift to others.
This is my game changer. What's yours?