A little over 10 years ago or so, (I’ve lost track of the time), I opened up a formal-looking letter addressed to me. It was sent from Edward Jones, the financial investment firm that employed my husband and where my savings were invested. On that day, standing in the kitchen trying to make sense of a nonsensical letter, my life changed forever. Today, I can write about it without shaking or crying or feeling the anxiety in my stomach that for years brought me to my knees, that for years I was too embarrassed to talk about.

The letter was direct and to the point. Apparently, the loan I had taken out on margin…or something along those lines…was due. I owed $3,000. I had no inkling as to what that meant because for years all statements and correspondence had been sent directly to his office – he was driving. Nothing made sense but over the course of the next few hours, I learned. My financial advisor husband had embezzled every penny I owned and not only that, but he had also started to gamble on margins and lost. Not only was my life savings gone, I owed money.

That day, my life as I knew it changed forever. I had worked since I was 16 years old and at age 48, realized I was penniless.

Today, I sit enjoying a pot of tea and a combination of wisdom and vulnerability with a large serving of gratitude for everything I’ve been through. See, today is my birthday and as I sit savoring my tea, I’m looking out of the window watching the native Magpies squawk in the pine trees by the coyote fencing – the popular natural fencing seen throughout northern New Mexico.

Two years ago I was here celebrating my birthday on a retreat. I knew without any doubt that I would be living here eventually. I didn’t know when or how but I knew because I was somehow in the process of making it happen. I lived with forgiveness in my heart and a level of understanding and acceptance that while I couldn’t quite explain, I could certainly feel. My life was and is filled with love and levity.

I had always known my life was own – just like all of our lives are – but I had sat in the passenger seat for far too long. I think that can happen to a lot of women in our culture and in some ways, I had always abided by those rules. I was supposed to sit in the passenger seat and so I did. But no more. I had started to drive and was in full command of my steering wheel. That meant making mistakes because I hadn’t driven in a long time. I bumbled words, was loyal to the wrong people and attracted others who hardly had respect for themselves, much less me. But, I kept driving and I started to get the hang of it. I turned a corner and another one and another one after that.

Perhaps the biggest change was that I stopped wishing for my dreams to come true, and started living a life that was true to my dreams. That meant moving away from certain people and things that weren’t in alignment with my dreams.

That seemingly slight change in perspective coupled with my ability to forgive myself for trusting my husband helped me to start realizing my dreams. Yes, you read that right. My challenge was not so much in forgiving my former husband, my challenge had been to forgive myself. It took a while. In order to be able to forgive, you have to be able to accept and that was a big hole in the road for me. But finally, I stopped falling into the same holes. I still tripped and sometimes I fell but it was because I was moving forward, it was because I was learning a new way to be. I started to see those cracks and holes in the road – the ones that didn’t serve me – and I learned to navigate around them. The thing is, there will always be obstacles and challenges, but I’m driving now which makes them easier to recognize.

The Magpies have settled down and my tea pot is nearly empty. The bright blue sky outside of my northern New Mexico home summons. I’ve got a birthday to enjoy and a Universe to thank. Shit happens in life to all of us. Life isn’t fair. No one, regardless of the packaging, is immune to the human condition. Some live with more privilege than others but in many ways that privilege is its own obstacle. But, regardless of our position in life, we can take over the wheel and drive. We can stop hoping and wishing for our dreams to come true and we can start living lives that are true to our dreams.

It may not be your birthday today, but maybe today becomes your day to stop your wishing and hoping that dreams will magically come true and start living a life that is true to your dreams.  Because that’s when they come true.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven