Newly Married, Graduating College and First Child

So I am 21 just married and in my first year of college and all is good. Coming up to exams at the end of year two and we are expecting our first child. Joanne actually enters labour the morning of my hardest exam so I take her to the hospital and I am told the labour is moving slowly so I head off to school to write my exam (what was I thinking). Fast forward and I have now graduated from college and I have a full time job with a local company focusing on repairs to concrete structures. I did this for a couple years and I could see this wasn’t going anywhere fast so I looked at my options. One option was to go to University and get my full engineering degree or my other option was to relocate to where the good paying jobs were.

This was a major turning point in my life and I had some hard choices to make and this was where many of my paradigms and fears took over. First was university. There was no way I was smart enough to be able to go off to university and the last thing I wanted to experience was the humiliation of failing. So it is better to not try and avoid the risk of failing, therefore University was not an option. The second option was to relocate to some far off remote location I never heard of called Fort MacMurry in northern Alberta where there were plenty of jobs and the money was great. Problem was that we would have to move and both Joanne and I are very family oriented and neither of us could even begin to imagine moving so far away from our family. So I came up with a third option! There is a saying that people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure and that the choices we make in life are based upon emotion and justify with logic (or illogic). My third option was to return to do what I was comfortable doing and that was to run the family campground. My parents were wanting to retire and my dad always wanted one of the kids to take it over so why not do that. One really really good reason not to do that would have been the fact that the campground couldn’t really support a family very well. It worked for my parents because my father had his pension but for us it was the campground all on its own. We were able to pay ourselves just $24,000/year and at this time we had child number 3 on the way. So I attempted to earn extra income anyway I could which included being a drivers ed instructor, a real estate agent, a school bus driver, handyman, and snow plowing in the winter as an example. As a stay at home mom Joanne would make baking to sell in our store during the summer months, make children's clothes and sell them at craft sales and do some babysitting all to help make ends meet.

This was our life, living paycheck to paycheck, simply existing and surviving. No don’t get me wrong because looking back we had a lot of fun and we raised three beautiful girls and they never missed a meal. We felt life was very good and that is because it was, however we were never able to look too far into the future simply because of our limited financial means. So 17 years after getting married and heading off to college I find myself owning a small campground business, struggling financially, three daughters, no savings and no real plans for the future yet I didn’t recognize just how bad our situation was because I was so focused on “in the moment” surviving until I experienced a major turning point.

Major turning points can come in many different ways and affect every person differently. For myself my turning point was the loss of both my parents within a 3 month time period. My parents were elderly and I had taken on the responsibility of helping to provide for them so we were very close and even though you know their time is limited it is always a shock when this time comes. I also think that the fact they both passed suddenly without any real serious debilitating health issues is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because there is no long term suffering and a curse because there is no time to prepare emotionally. With the passing of my mother my grieving was interrupted by the need to care for my father and then with the passing of my father the grieving process was interrupted by the “Ice Storm of 98”. My father passed away on Jan 1st and the ice storm began on the 3rd and within days we were without power for 15 days operating in survival mode.

We had started the process of selling our home so that we could renovate my father's home in order for him to live with us so on top of dealing with my fathers death and the ice storm we sold our house and were renovating a house all which had to be done before spring when we opened the campground. No stress at all:).

So to recap, I lost my mother and my father, sold our home, survived the ice storm and renovated my parents home, moved into my parents home and opened the campground for May 1st all within six months! Then we are running the campground 7 days a week for another six months before things slow down. That’s when I started to experience some health issues with a knee operation and a herniated disc which kept me immobilized for most of the winter months and there is nothing worse than constant nagging pain to bring a persons will down. It was at this point in my life I realized I wasn’t having much fun anymore and I was feeling trapped, lost and confused.

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