Remember the dreams we had when we were little?
I was at a school in Compton and this adorable little girl and I were talking.
I told her, “If you work really hard and do all of your homework, you can be anything.”
She agreed. Then I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up. She answered, “A princess.”
I corrected her and said, “No, what do you want to DO with your life?”
She looked at me with big brown eyes, put her hands on her hips and shook her head, certain I just didn’t understand how life worked.
She explained, “To be a princess you HAVE to marry a prince.”
It made perfect sense when you think about the stories we were told and are still telling our daughters: Snow White had to cook and clean for Dopey, Grumpy, Sleepy. And believe me, I’ve dated them all. Cinderella had to scrub floors, wait on her ugly sisters—that is until Prince Charming returned her glass slipper. Remember that slipper cause it will return at the end.
Then of course the prince arrives and she never has to cook or clean any more. Then the prince and princess have a storybook wedding. “Weddings– the superbowl for women.”
I’m going to tell you about one that was really over the top. The sun was getting ready to set, the waves were roaring, and then to “Here Comes the Bride,” she walks down the aisle—radiant. And as the couple says, “I do,” two doves are released.
It was magical!
A few years later, they had a daughter, then another. Then they divorced and the father, my cousin, got custody of the two daughters. A year after that, I went to Florida and saw the father and two daughters —at funeral of that beautiful bride.
No one knew what she died of, but I knew. I knew. I too had been close, dangerously close, to giving up, ending it, when my happily-ever-after dream died. Even now, far removed from it, my stomach churns when I think about it. I’d like you to take a minute and think about a time when you faced something that was too difficult, maybe even too disappointing or too horrific, and you too thought about giving up. Maybe not ending your life but giving up.
For me it happened like this:
My husband, a physician, got a fabulous job offer to move from New York to Brea, California. I was able to transfer to complete chiropractic school so we moved with our three children. A few months later, my husband announced he wasn’t happy. You know they always say, “It’s not you.” But I knew it was. I believed I wasn’t pretty enough, sexy enough, you name it, I wasn’t enough. Can anyone relate?
I remember watching him pack up. Every tie, every shirt, every suit, a confirmation I’d failed. But mostly it was the one thing he didn’t take—our wedding picture. I was no longer part of his story, and he was the only story I had.
KEY 1: Finances
We need to know our finances-business and personal. We often, too often, turn the finances over to the men in our lives—you know we’re too busy, it isn’t feminine, etc etc.
I’m ashamed to admit this, but I did the same. I got married at 19, by 20 I was teaching English and going to grad school. Then one baby after another.
My husband took care of everything financial. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was in my name—oh I did have a $10,000 student loan for chiropractic school. That was all mine.
KEY 1 is knowing our finances, but it’s also asking for what we deserve. Women usually ask for what we think the other person will give us. We make seventy-one cents on the dollar compared to men.
But when it comes to asking for our children—nothing stops us. We’ll corner our relatives and co-workers trying to get them to buy those subscriptions to magazines no one wants, terrible chocolates, etc. But when it comes to taking care of ourselves, asking for what we are worth, we don’t.
When my “former husband,” I love that term. It kind of assumes there’s another one waiting in the wings—a “present husband.” When he offered me the family home—mortgaged of course, my car—a Datsun maxima, and an absolutely fabulous amount of monthly child support for each child; it seemed like a great deal. If my children were taken care of –that was all I needed.
Oh I did consult an attorney, but his fee was two thousand dollars. There was no way I could find that amount of money. I had absolutely no money of my own, no parents, no family except a sister who couldn’t help financially and I had no job. I was finishing up chiropractic college. But as long as the children were going to be fine, everything would be okay. I thought.
Then the roller coaster that was my life careened off the tracks.
One Sunday night, the children came home from a visit with their dad. They told me all about his new house with the swimming pool and even an adorable puppy. Then they told me their dad said they could live with him. The happily-ever-after dream was continuing–without mine.
As the boys packed up, I watched. Every piece of Lego, every matchbox car, every sports’ trophy, a confirmation of my failure at the dream. And I didn’t fight! I let them go! That was my secret—the thing I was most ashamed of. The thing I didn’t want anyone to know. The thing that kept me up at night.
But I couldn’t fall apart. I had to finish chiropractic college, then I’d do something. I’d get a job, hire an attorney, fight for the children.
Graduation fell on a weekend when I didn’t have the boys. I asked my former husband to allow them to attend, but he said they had plans. When my name was called, I walked onto the stage, accepted my diploma and looked at the audience. Not one familiar face smiled back at me, acknowledging the years of sacrifice, hours of studying. I took my diploma. Devastated, disappointed to my core, I walked right off the stage and went to my car. You know you’re supposed to go back to your seat with your class. But I didn’t.
I went home and packed up everything—every remaining reminder of a family, a life. I sold the house which netted $50,000—enough for equipment and opening and operating a chiropractic practice for one year (and not a day more) of a new chiropractic practice. I had no fallback plan. I had to make it. Thirty-three percent of businesses fail within the first year.
Key number 2: Over-deliver
For all of us, especially women, whether it’s building a practice or a succeeding at business, over-delivering is key.
Here’s a networking over-delivery example:
I had a very limited advertising budget –$50,000 was eaten up by equipment, staff, and that by the way included living expenses—renting an apartment, etc. I went to networking events morning, noon and night. There were nights when I even slept in the office in order to attend early morning networking.
At the networking meetings, I wouldn’t just swap cards and hope the person would call. I’d take the first step. I’d ask who they wanted to meet. What they needed. And I’d deliver. I’d actually call and try to connect. That’s how I built my practice and went from -$10,000 to seven figures. That practice continues to this day without an advertising budget because the patient-base is so strong.
Let me give you a picture of over-delivering in practice. One day, parents brought in their teenage son who was suffering from neck pain to my office. The teenager had dropped out of sports, refused to see friends; basically he stayed in his room. For one year, their managed care physician prescribed medication, referred him for PT, acupuncture, epidural injections and then psychological counseling. But the pain kept worsening so the parents decided to try chiropractic.
After two adjustments, he was no better. I told them they needed to have an MRI done. They argued since the MD had never recommended it and they were going to just go back and get their son more drugs. The MRI wouldn’t be covered they argued.
Well, I spent the next three days –every minute of lunch—calling MRI facilities. I finally found one that agreed to a reasonable fee.
He had a tumor which did turn out to be benign. And the managed care facility did the surgery without any co-pay. He was fine—back at sports. They got their son back. I got a Christmas card every year and tons of referrals for overdelivering.
Over-delivering is more important for women than men. It’s a fact!
I recall a years ago, my son joined my practice. The patients referred to him as “the doctor,” and to me as, “the mother.”
One day, he left to go to his son’s little league game, and I covered. The patients kept telling me how wonderful it was that he was such a great father. Years before that, I went to his game, and the patients were irate. One patient even told the receptionist, “If the doctor—then I was still the doctor—If she isn’t serious about the practice, I’m going elsewhere.”
So I stayed, missed the games, missed the award ceremonies, missed my children’s lives, but I stayed in the office and over-delivered.
Overdelivering worked: I had an amazing house in Laguna Beach overlooking the ocean. I treated celebrities such as Marie Osmond, the New York City Rockettes when they were in town, Lisa Nichols of the Secret. I was even a paid expert on Judge Judy. And, I flew to Mexico with the Flying Samaritans. But my outer story didn’t match my inner story. I wanted the happily-ever-after dream, you know, the one where the family stays together forever.
That’s Key 3: Authenticity
I was growing in my practice/my business but not in my personal life.
Did you ever have a terrible regret? You know a thing that gives you that sick feeling.
I had it. Although I was a success, treating lots of patients, sought after for stars, in reality, I was that little girl who wanted to be married to the Prince. Incongruency leads to illness—can anyone relate?
And now that I finally had money for an attorney, it was too late. The children had their friends, school, new family, new life. I was ashamed. I didn’t have my children, didn’t have the strength to fight for them. That was the secret that I didn’t want anyone to know. That was the secret that kept me up at night. That was the secret that prevented me from enjoying my success.
Then something happened. This one I couldn’t even make up if I tried: I was getting my mamogram and shutting off my phone. There was a call. My dermatologist said, “The little spot on your leg is melanoma!”
Shocked, remembering that we moved to California only because that practice needed a doctor to take over for the doctor who died so quickly from melanoma. I steeled myself, had the spot removed on my leg. Then a year later, there was one on my arm. It was then that I realized divorce, the loss of the family was devastating, more devastating than cancer. True, I’d lost a piece of my leg, then a piece of my arm, but with divorce, I’d lost a piece of my heart. I couldn’t forgive myself for failing at happily-ever-after. It was then that I decided I wasted too much time. And, I also lost 20 years of my life punishing myself.
It was then, and only then, that I decided I had to do something to help other women who’ve been disappointed, disillusioned, maybe even devastated by love and robbed of their self-esteem. After that melanoma, I had to show women we can’t lose our self-esteem, our worth, our being, maybe even our will to live—as I had done—just because a man rejects us—or our inner demons, our secrets hold us captive.
Nora Ephron of Sleepless in Seattle and other fabulous movies said, “Marriages come and go, but divorce lasts forever.”
Key 4: Commitment.
I’d been writing a story about a woman who had everything and then lost it. It’s not my story since it’s much more exciting, steamy sex scenes, way more twists and turns. After the melanoma, I turned my desire to write into a commitment.
The difference between commitment and desire is huge. When we desire something, we go after it but if something else comes in the way or it gets difficult, we stop. When we’re committed to something, nothing gets in the way. We will do anything for it. Nothing stops us, not fear of what others say, not challenges, nothing.
SEX HAPPENS, as gut wrenching as EAT PRAY LOVE, and because it is not an autobiography, as titillating as FIFTY SHADES, was born. It’s about a woman who loses custody of her children and faces the other side of marriage where dreams implode and no one is who he seems. It’s about marriage, motherhood, sex and what we’ll do for each. It will surprise and delight readers
In SEX HAPPENS the main character wants custody of her children but so does her husband and he’ll stop at nothing. Their custody battle is so poisonous it becomes murderous. But she develops strength. If only I could give one women strength to stand up for herself, refuse to be destroyed by a spouse’s or partner’s decision that she isn’t enough, then I’ve succeeded.
SEX HAPPENS was picked up by 275 newspapers, tv shows, radio shows and that was on Black Friday when they are flooded with sales. Also, on that very day, it was on page 1 on Google. Amazing.
It’s getting five stars on Amazon. I’m so excited to have achieved my dream, and it was only because I was committed, was authentic for the first time in my life, and when you read it, you’ll see, I over-delivered on my promise to write a page-turner that will make women take back the power which they too often give away to men to decide whether they are smart enough, pretty enough, sexy enough, enough.
We are enough, and sometimes, maybe we can even have it all.
Remember the glass slipper? Well, fifteen years ago, I decided I wanted to find Prince Charming. I joined an internet dating site—maybe not the place where Prince Charmings usually hang out, but my heading was “Looking for Prince Charming.”
One evening, I had a date. He was a very handsome man—tall, blue eyes, a great smile. After a lovely dinner, he opened his attaché case and offered me a pair of pink slippers. After twelve wonderful years together, I can say he really turned out to be my Prince Charming!
If you want it create it. And, my Prince Charming is so committed to helping me fulfill my dream he and I are going on a frontal lobotomy tour. I call it that because no one with a working frontal lobe would be doing this. We are going across the country in an RV with SEX HAPPENS signs and I’m speaking at various women’s groups.
I’m proof that when you create it, you’ll have it and more importantly, you’ll be it.
If you’ve ever been disappointed, disillusioned, maybe even devastated by love, then this is the book for you.
Here’s my favorite line that I’d like to leave you with: Sometimes when we lose the ones we love the most, we find ourselves.
Any one who has a book club, I would make myself available for the book club meeting call in. The members can ask any questions. The club members will each get the SEX HAPPENS game!!