Reflection, recognition and my gift to you

I really can’t believe quite how quickly the past week has gone.  Yes, there are Christmas preparations to make but I’ve been so busy with so many other things too.

It’s also quite a period of reflection for me.  This time last year I was seriously considering taking my own life.  Now I’m glad I didn’t but at the time it seemed like the only option.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could really see into the future?

I received a wonderful email this week from a lady in Australia who has subscribed to my FREE “A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy“, here’s just a snippet of what she said to me

“Thank you for doing what you are doing for fellow bankrupts. It’s greatly appreciated. I’ve just started receiving your A—Z.

I found you via Twitter and am so relieved there is someone out there who understands the situation and the pain. There’s not much out there for bankrupts that ‘speaks’ to me, but your site & blog do. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being there.”

Receiving an email like this makes me feel that everything I went through was worth it.  I recall at the time, saying through gritted teeth and a set jaw ‘I’d better not be going through this in vain, as long as I can help just one person avoid this, then it will have been worth it’.  That was my sole motivator for writing the A to Z, creating this blog, my e-books and writing the various other courses that will be released in the New Year.  To receive this kind of feedback makes everything worthwhile.

In the past year I’ve been able to develop a consulting business which is now bringing me a small income.  I intend to escalate that in the New Year. It’s the income from that which has enabled me to provide the A to Z as a free gift.  However, it’s strange to think that without going through bankruptcy I would never have had the courage or confidence to set myself up as a consultant/advisor in any capacity.  It’s true what they say about there being strength in adversity.

I’m now in a position where I can look back on the past 3 years of my life and look at what I’ve learned from it.  I’m in a position of strength and positivity.  It’s taken the best part of 3 years to get to that position and if you’re not there yet, please don’t worry.  Eventually, you will come through that fog and you will look back and take some lessons from that period.  Even if it’s never to use a credit card again.  I know I’m dealing with some major money hangups at the moment but they’ll get sorted next year – I have problems spending these days which is the complete opposite to what I used to be!

The secret of surviving this route to recovery is to take things just one step at a time.  Even now I take a stumble back every so often, I fall into a shroud of worry, fear, anxiety and lack of confidence but I remain consistent in placing one foot in front of the other no matter how awful I feel and gradually I get myself back on track.  You can do the same too.

I know that at this time of year money worries are heightened and you can feel like you’re totally alone but believe me when I say that you’re not alone.  There are many, many people out there, around the World who will start the New Year worrying about how much they’ve overspent.  It’s far better to have a quieter, less flamboyant Christmas period and start the New Year feeling bright and confident about the future.

Take some time out today just to sit and think about just how far you’ve already come along the Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery.  If you haven’t signed up to the A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy then do so now, it’s my gift to you and it will help you put one foot in front of the other and give you support when you need it.

In the meantime, have a Great Christmas with family, friends and loved ones, knowing that the most valuable gift you can give is your time.

Merry Christmas

Deb

xx

 

Why my Christmas will be Priceless

I’ve just spent the morning wrapping my son’s Christmas presents and I’ve been so grateful that I’ve been able to do it.

This time last year I didn’t think life was worth living and I really believed that my son’s life would change for the better if I didn’t exist.  Christmas was a horrible time for me last year, all of his Christmas presents came from freecycle and I felt awful for not being able to buy him what he really wanted.  I had even got ‘new’ clothes for him and me from freecycle.  Although I remain eternally grateful to such a resource as without it, there’d have been no presents to open.

I was in a really desperate and lonely place and firmly believed that the solution lay at the bottom of a cliff, a bottle and a pile of pills.  That time is now a very fuzzy memory and I really don’t recall much of last Christmas.  I think that’s what they call selective memory.

Thankfully I was able to fast-forward in my mind to a time when my son is a bit older and friends ask him what happened to his mum.  What would he say?  “My mum thought I’d be better off without her so she took her own life.”  I couldn’t bear the thought of how he would handle that in years to come and chose not to take that option.  Instead I took a whole heap of other decisions, some good, some bad and some downright stupid but I did what I felt I needed to do in order to survive and keep a roof over my head.

But, one thing I did that I really shouldn’t have done is to shut off communication with the people who really could help me.  I had a very long and open conversation with a friend at the end of last week who said “I really feel as if I let you down”.  He’s not the first friend to have said that to me and I told him that he didn’t let me down.  It was my choice not to let anyone in, my choice to shut myself off and my choice not to ask for help.

Remembering last Christmas is why my A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy is now free.  Whilst I was going through the dark times of bankruptcy and financial difficulty I kept saying “As long as I can help someone else to cope with it then it will have been worth while.”  I’ve set a crazy goal; To help 1,000,000 people to cope with the emotional fall-out of bankruptcy and financial difficulty.

I’m so grateful now that I took the decisions I took last Christmas.  They may not have been the best or wisest decisions but at least my son will still have Christmas with his mum to look forward to and that, as far as I’m concerned, is priceless and I’d do it all again given the same set of circumstances.

Don’t let bankruptcy or financial difficulty stop you from enjoying the most precious things in your life – your family and friends.  Hop over to my site, www.deborah-meredith.com  and sign up to the A to Z today.  You can also sign up to receive the e-books I’ve written, they’re all free and designed to help you.  I’ve also included a list of books I read that may help you (purchased from Amazon’s USED list)

 

The Simple Things in Life

I’m just in the middle of writing my next e-book – Free and Low-Cost things to Keep Kids Occupied and whilst writing it I was reminded of a day out with my son, my sister, my niece and my Other Half shortly after my 40th Birthday earlier this year.

The weather wasn’t great but I’m still a firm advocate of getting out in the fresh air as much as possible.  We put on our jeans, waterproofs and walking boots/trainers and packed a basic picnic and took the kids to a local country park “The Museum of Welsh Life” which offers free entry and plenty to see and do as well as having plenty of room in which to run around and let off steam.

What struck me is how much fun we all had without spending a penny and as soon as the grown-ups got involved in the kid’s fun it all got even more fun.  Watch this video (I’m the one in red) the kids had been rolling down a bank but then the inevitable cry came “Come on Mum, you do it” well, I’m sure you can guess the rest, ignoring the various people walking past and in the general vicinity both my sister and I (and the Other Half) reverted back to childhood and got involved and we had such a laugh. We rolled down that and various other banks at least half a dozen times. The kids did too as you’ll see.  I’m still not sure who had the most fun that day – the adults or the kids?

What it also did  for a few hours was make me forget about the difficult situation I was in and focus solely on having fun and a good day out with my family.  Try it one day, lose your inhibitions, revert to childhood and see what a difference it makes.  You’ll probably wake up the following day aching but you’ll have had fun.

So often, when we’re in the depths of despair we forget about the simple things in life that can really lift our spirits.  I’ve spoken many times about being grateful for the simple things but how often do we actually take time out to acknowledge them?

What will you do this weekend to forget about financial difficulty or bankruptcy and create fun, laughter and happiness with your family?  What’s your Simple Thing in Life?

Putting things into perspective.

At 11am today people across the UK stopped what they were doing for 2 minutes and honoured our heroes.  The men and women who fought for our freedom in both World Wars and all conflicts since then.

It’s times like this that my problems really get put into perspective.  It’s something I’m grateful for and something I talk about on the courses along “The Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery”.

Going through bankruptcy and/or financial difficulty isn’t fun by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s difficult, it’s challenging and times it’s down right horrible and can lead those of us going through it down some very dark roads.  There were times where suicide was a very viable alternative for me but for some reason, just as I was about to push myself to the place of no return, a voice would appear in my conscience, remembering all those people who had supported me so far and reminding me that despite all that was going on I really did have everything to live for.

Today, I’m so grateful that I chose to weather the storm.  I still get down days, I’d be lying if I told you that I’m super-positive and energised every day of the week and that I leap out of bed every morning with a smile on my face (in fact, I really don’t do mornings so anyone who sees me before 10am is privileged if they get a grunt let alone a smile!  Spare a thought for the other half – it’s taken time but he now knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my cup of tea and at least an hour to ‘come to’!!!).

Now that I’m on the other side of bankruptcy I’m so grateful for what I’ve got.  I’ve spent the week meeting and talking to truly inspirational people, all of whom have had to overcome their own adversity to get to where they are today. All of them had seriously down days along the route but every single one of them had the same thing in common – they all had self-belief and an unerring belief that everything will be alright in the end.

Now either I’ve just met a group of people who are as barking mad as I am or we’ve all realised something, that you become what you expect to become.  We all believe in the power of the Universe and the Law of Attraction i.e. Like Attracts Like.  By remaining positive in the depths of adversity we haven’t allowed ourselves to be suffocated by it.  Keep an eye on where you want to be in 2 or 3 years time.

One of the exercises we’ll do whilst “Exploring the Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery” (launching on 1st December) asks you to think about where you want to be in 3 years time.  It’s powerful stuff.

Today, whilst we give thanks to those who fought for our freedom, think about all you have to live for.  Those men and women didn’t have the opportunity to have a future, you do.  Be grateful for that fact and work out what you need to do to get to where you want to be.  Then trust that it will happen.

Have a great weekend and relax in the knowledge that whatever you focus on happening WILL happen.

Sounds familiar?

It’s always good to receive feedback that tells you you’re on the right course. Since writing about bankruptcy and publishing my courses and e-books I’ve really felt that I’m finally doing what I’m supposed to be doing, or what I’ve been put on this earth to do so when I get feedback from one of my course subscribers that affirms that it really drives me forward to want to continue to help more of you to cope with bankruptcy and financial difficulty.

At the end of the course I ask my subscribers to tell me their own personal experience of bankruptcy so far, and what drove them to take my course and what they got out of it.

The following is an email I received from a course subscriber after they had completed the course.  The only changes I have made is to remove the person’s name (I always promise total confidentiality and anonymity).  Isn’t it good to know that everyone’s story is different but we’re all in the same boat?

“I’m not bankrupt, but it’s looking as if it’ll be imminent which is why I signed up for the A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy“.

So how did it happen – well I applied for a mortgage as a self employed person based on earnings which weren’t realistic and there was no check and was allowed the mortgage. It coincided with the first financial crash in 2008 and my earnings dropped to almost nil. I rented out the property and then chose to sell it. The tenants didn’t want to be in a property which was being sold. They left. The lending company wouldn’t let me rent it out, the property didn’t sell, in spite of massively reducing the sale price (albeit maybe too late). The property was repossessed and I’m still being charged for the interest only mortgage in spite of not having any control over the future of the sale of the property.
In the interim period, I racked up credit card debt to keep my business going and cover daily basic living costs. The long and the short. Time ran out, limits were reached.  I now live with my parents, which has turned out well as I’m in my 50s and they’re both needing care – we’re looking out for one another.
I am unable to become bankrupt until the property sells as otherwise, it’ll be adding further debt which I believe isn’t permissible!  It’s a joke. And I’d be very happy to be bankrupted by the mortgage company, yes I’m responsible for applying for the mortgage, but really feel I shouldn’t have been given it. Ah the benefits of hindsight!
What I hope to get out of it is a clean break. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen and I’ll muddle along and do my best to repay what I can.”
What this subscriber also went on to tell me in a separate telephone conversation is that they now feel bankruptcy isn’t so frightening and that if it is the route that they end up going down they feel better prepared to handle it.
For just 16p a day this person now has the confidence to face up to whatever is going to happen to them.  How could the A to Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy help you?
Have a great weekend and please, don’t panic about your financial situation. Take a look at my website or drop me an email to deb@deborah-meredith.com.  You don’t have to handle this alone.

Where do you sit?

Everybody has a different story to tell about bankruptcy and financial difficulty and everybody has a different way of handling it.

Some people become paralysed by fear and/or embarrassment and do nothing but sit and wait for it to happen to them whilst others take control of the situation and start working out a plan of action so they can deal with the project as if it was just another challenging project that requires a specific outcome.

Others become so embroiled in anger and bitterness that this thing is happening to or has happened to them that they lash out at others going through the same thing but who appear to be coping with it.  And there are yet others who just ignore what’s happening, don’t care about the implications and hope it will just wash over them.

We all cope with challenges in very different ways.  However, the one thing I’ve noticed is that those who take responsibility for what’s happening to them and take some positive action generally have the best results or more desired outcome.

A positive attitude will keep you in a positive frame of mind and is more likely to help you get through the bankruptcy process or current difficulties with minimal scars, ready to brush yourself off and start again.

Being consumed with anger, bitterness or even jealousy that someone is coping with a similar situation better than you are is more than likely going to finish you.  It will destroy you and invariably destroy all the relationships you have as people decide they don’t want to be around such negativity or damaging emotions.

Don’t get me wrong, we all go through a wide range or emotions, not all of them good, whilst going through bankruptcy or financial difficulty.  Contrary to what it may seem it’s not always rosy in the garden for me but I don’t let it drag me down.  I’m very quick to revert back to a positive mindset and work out how I can make things better or what I can learn from this.

I’ve attached a link here to a ‘transition curve’ by John Fisher which illustrates how we, as humans, handle change.  I find it a really useful tool to use to work out where I am on that curve and then plot where I want to be.  It’s also useful when I need to remind myself that not everyone handles change/transition in the same way or as quickly as I do.  Take a look at it.  Where do you currently sit on this curve?  Where would you like to sit?  What action will you take to get to where you want to be?

I know where I like to sit on the curve and I ensure I always take positive actions to keep me as close to that place as possible.

I’d be interested in your feedback.

What a difference a day makes…..

I often hear myself quoting this and I started to think ‘if a day makes a big difference, what difference does a week, month or even a year make?’

If you’re just facing bankruptcy then the prospect of a year as a bankrupt then 5 years as a discharged bankrupt can leave you feeling like you’re looking at a black hole with no idea of what you’re about to leap into but in my experience that time just flies by.

First of all is the build up to becoming bankrupt.  The stress, worry, upset and fear of the unknown was horrendous to live with but the day I actually filed for bankruptcy I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.  The following day I realised I hadn’t been struck down by a thunder bolt and that life did indeed carry on relatively normally.

One week further on from that and I was quite adept at ensuring I always had enough cash for what I NEEDED, not wanted (I talk about this in the A-Z of Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy )

One month further on and living well within my means as a bankrupt was becoming much easier.  They say it takes 30 days to create a new habit. By the end of the first month I was beginning to wonder why I’d never lived on a cash-only basis before.  I spent less, had a far better diet and there was much less waste – every penny literally did count.

One year later and living this way had very much become the norm but now two years later, I can barely remember what it was like on that day (9th July 2009) when I became bankrupt number 570 of 2009 at Cardiff County Court.  It seems like such a long time ago and a different World, a different person.

However, that’s not to say it was always the case.  A year ago (so just about a year after my bankruptcy) I was lower than I’ve ever been, much lower than the post-natal depression I suffered following the birth of my son, much lower than when I left my first husband after one too many beatings and much lower than when I lost not one but two jobs for refusing to sleep with the boss.  Yes, I was once again in my own home, but I was unemployed, depressed, unable to pay my bills, not eligible for benefits and suffering from incredibly low self-esteem.  I sat at my desk staring at the computer with a bottle of vodka in one hand and a bottle of pills in the other contemplating whether or not it was worth waking up tomorrow.

I’m glad I chose to live to see another day.  I took some incredibly drastic steps this time last year which I’m not quite ready to talk about yet but will do one day as that time whilst not great, taught me one heck of a lot about myself, business and mankind.

I’ve just returned from a surprise holiday to Marrakech.  It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit but never in a million years thought I’d get there.  This time last year I’d just as well have been planning to go to the moon!  But then, this time last year I didn’t think I’d have met such a wonderful partner who would give me such a fantastic surprise.

If you’re about to face the unknown, it may well be worth looking back and thinking what a difference a day, week, month or year has made to you previously.  It could just be the boost you need to continue moving forward.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful link to Dinah Washington singing “What a Difference a Day Makes”  

Goals & dreams – from the sublime to the delivered!

It’s incredible isn’t it?  Those of you that follow me on twitter @debjmeredith will know that I believe in the power of the Universe. It’s power became obvious to me when I met my other half.

Every year and every month I write down goals.  My ex-husband always used to laugh at this ‘fruitless exercise’.  Usually my monthly goals are stepping stones  to help me achieve my annual goals and sometimes you just have to leave things to fate as my mother would say.

Even when I was bankrupt I wrote goals, when I was in the depths of despair last Christmas (more about that some other time) I was still writing goals.  It seemed ludicrous to me last Christmas.  I didn’t even think I’d be here right now let alone achieving some of the goals I’d written down but I’m the sort of person who just has to believe that something good will come out of something bad.  It’s up to you whether you put that down to blind faith, stupidity or something else!

Anyway, last Christmas, one of the things I really hoped to achieve this year was finding a decent partner to love me just as I am.  At 39 with 2 failed marriages behind me and more failed relationships than I care to remember this was a big ask.  I’d become cynical about relationships and to be honest really didn’t think there were any decent men out there.  It seemed to me that they were prepared to wine and dine me until they got what they wanted and then that was it, they were never to be seen again.  For years I went through this cycle, meet a ‘nice’ man, go on a couple of dates, spend the night together, don’t hear from him, I call him, he feels guilty, we date some more, don’t hear from him, I call him, he feels guilty, we date some more.  That was the pattern of my relationships – pretty healthy huh?!

So last year I wrote down exactly what I wanted in a man, here’s what I said “By 15.04.11 I am dating a professional man who adores me and supports me whole-heartedly and unequivocally.  He loves [my son] and we are planning holidays, outings and dates.  He is also able to afford to keep me and is my absolute equal on all levels.”

Now that may seem pretty materialistic but I had been the bread-winner in both of my marriages and even through the majority of my other relationships I didn’t know what it was like to be spoiled or treated unconditionally.  I must point out that I’ve never expected a man to keep me, but I knew I couldn’t go into another relationship where I was expected to be the main bread-winner. I just wasn’t in that place financially, being bankrupt and all!  And, when I wrote this I’d just as well have been asking to win millions on the lottery that’s how achievable it seemed!  But I just knew, with a supportive partner by my side, that I could achieve anything (I’m just one of those people who functions better in a relationship, I’m sure I could have achieved it on my own but self-doubt would have made it take longer).

On 31st March, I met my Mark.  I was only just over my lowest point but I still wasn’t in a great place.  I have to be honest it was instant attraction both ways but I really didn’t think he’d be interested in me.  He works for a major bank (yes really, but I don’t hold that against him), he absolutely adores me and more to the point he totally adores and accepts my son.

So, that’s great, but what’s even more surprising about those goals is that we had a wonderful ‘family’ holiday in July and he’s gone out this morning telling me to book a week away next week so that I can relax properly after what we’ve been through this last month.

Now, I’m not saying I could have done any of that on my own, although I had already booked to take my son camping.  Mark came too and we had a whale of a time.  But there’s no way I could have afforded 2 holidays within a couple of months of each other.

The point I’m trying to make here is sometimes, no matter how ludicrous your goals and dreams, if you believe in them hard enough and want them badly enough, they will manifest.

I currently have significantly more material things than I had when I was bankrupt, not quite so many as I had prior to that but most importantly I’m happier now that I have been for very many years.

Happiness isn’t always down to money (I talk about that in my e-book – The 8 Lessons I Learned from Bankruptcy).  The emotional support I get from Mark is worth it’s weight in Gold.  And if I had to trade next week’s break for more of his support, then I’d do it in a heartbeat.  Without his support at home there’s no way I’d have launched The Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery or done any of the things I’ve done and planned in the past couple of weeks.

What goals and dreams do you have that you think are ludicrous?  They may just be the ones that happen and when they do, who knows what else you can achieve?

Don’t let your past dictate your future…..

As I sit here, frustrated from enforced bed-rest (I’m not seriously ill but bad enough to do some lasting damage if I don’t heed Doctor’s orders), it’s giving me plenty of time to ponder on how life has changed in the past few years.  In fact, to be honest, it’s changed quite dramatically in just a few short months.

Two years ago I was declared bankrupt.  The only thing that stopped me throwing myself off the cliff I now live on top of was my then 4-year old son.  All that kept me moving forward was the thought “What will my son think of me for leaving him?  How will it affect him in the future?”

I have no idea from where I summoned the strength to carry on, and even today, when I have a down day as we all do occasionally, I wonder if I can still carry on.  Thankfully those days are becoming less and less and the past two years have taught me how to cope.  I’ve developed a super-structure of family and friends that supports me and most importantly doesn’t judge me.  And they have no idea how much they bolster me when the vultures (and there are still plenty of them out there, I’m sure you’ve got some of your own, who want to see you fail and are happy to humiliate you no matter what the cost) seem determined to undermine me or try to topple me over the edge of the cliff.  There was a time when the vultures almost won but thanks to my super-structure I’m still here.

I’ve wandered down routes that at times have been dead-ends, others have just been ridiculously stupid and some, well, I should have known better but at the time of deciding which route to go down I took that decision based with all the knowledge and experience I had available to me at that point.  Maybe one day I’ll write a book because sometimes I really can’t quite believe how I got from there to here.  Maybe I’ll explore that through this blog, or if you join me on one of my e-courses, we’ll explore it further then.

When I was in the depths of despair of bankruptcy the one thing that I kept saying was “No-one should ever have to go through this alone and they won’t – if it’s the last thing I do”.  That seemed like a grand statement at the time, just one of those grandiose things you say to make everyone around you think that you’re coping.  Yeah, right!  Like I was really pulling the wool over their eyes with my bluff and bluster!

But, with some encouragement and cajoling I’m almost ready to launch my e-courses to help those affected by bankruptcy, bad debt or in dire financial straits.  I’m not going to tell anyone how to budget better or rebuild their credit history, Lord knows I’m still working through that myself, but what I’m aiming to do is offer the emotional support that was missing when I needed it.  Look up “surviving bankruptcy” or any similar search string on google and you’ll find page upon page of hints and tips to save money, do more with less, etc, etc, but you’ll find next to nothing on what it’s like to go through bankruptcy and come out the other end.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no guru or expert but as no-one else seems prepared to talk about it, I felt I should.  Quite why I don’t know, but discussing quite how low, dirty and unworthy bankruptcy makes you feel with someone who hasn’t been through it doesn’t really help.  It makes you feel as if the other person, whilst empathetic, is judging you.  I now know they’re not but try telling that to someone who is drinking water, not because they’re on a health kick but because they can’t afford a glass of wine or a cup of coffee.  Or to the person who has suddenly fallen in love with ‘Vintage clothing’ (read charity shop bargains or freecycle freebies) after years of buying top quality, top priced clothing because it’s sustainable and good for the environment!

So, where am I now, 2 years down the line? Well, my address history is improving; instead of 9 changes of address in 2 years I now have just 2 different addresses for the past 2 years (every little helps).  I am self-employed and happy, I have learned to accept myself and have rebuilt my confidence and self-esteem, I see my son every weekend and I’m in a loving relationship with a wonderful man.

Everything started to fall into place as I made some changes to my life and my mindset and things are now coming together nicely.  There’s still a way to go, I’ve got another 4 years of being a “discharged bankrupt” to get through yet, but I have to be honest and say if they carry on like this, it’s not going to have been such a bad thing to happen after all.  If only I’d realised it at the time.

My e-courses will be launching soon and I hope you’ll join me on “The Bankrupt’s Route to Recovery“.

Deb