Have you ever thought “I need to become the breadwinner?” In some cases, like a serious medical crisis, you might be faced with this situation.
I had just returned from my friend’s home. I dropped off a pot of soup for her and the family. A medical crisis had turned her family’s world upside down. Her situation prompted the question “how can a working woman be a successful Lemon Crusher and overcome adversity when a medical diagnosis stops the family’s routine dead in its tracks? How can she become the breadwinner?”
Life-changing events can mean you need to become the breadwinner
My friend’s story is unique to her but common to so many other working women. So many women can tell me the details about when their world changed.
For many, as my friend, it starts with a phone call. The urgent request to get to a medical facility where a loved one is. For others its a meeting with a Dr. where a life-changing, even life-threatening, diagnosis is given. Sometimes the medical crisis impacts our body, sometimes it impacts those we love.
Whatever the story, the outcome is the same; life from that point forward is going to be very different and the working woman will need to shoulder great responsibility in order to bring herself, and those she loves, through the experience.
A world changed in one phone call
Today’s inspiring story is about Colleen, a working woman, who like my friend, had her world changed in one phone call. Here is Colleen’s story of facing wrenching adversity and not only enduring through it, but thriving as a result of it.
“My life changed dramatically the day my husband of 20 years had a heart attack. He survived the heart attack and made a miraculous recovery after the surgery, but he was never the same. Once he came home and was recovering, I began to wonder about our financial future and the potential that I may have to be the primary breadwinner in the family.
At that time, I had my Bachelor’s in Social Work. If I had my master’s I knew I would have greater options financially and more stability for our future. Starting that fall, I launched into my master’s program. As I live in a remote area, the closest University for me to acquire the education was two hours away.
Each Monday I would leave home by 4:30 AM and drive 120 miles to the University. My 12 hour day of classes began at 7 AM sharp. At the end of the day I would drive home, often getting in after midnight. Tuesday morning, I would be up and at work by 8 AM to complete a full week of work. For two years I took classes each Monday, worked a full-time job, studied most evenings, took care of my husband as I could, and then repeated the cycle each week.”
The dedication paid off in more ways than one
“The hard work paid off and I earned my Masters in Social Work. Two years after earning my Masters I took a leap and opened my own practice. The very first week I had a single patient, the next week I had three and soon my practice grew to serve 24 patients a week. It almost became overwhelming, but I was so satisfied that I now controlled my future.
I was in private practice for just 18 months when my husband unexpectedly passed. What I had feared to be true, the fact that I may need to become the breadwinner, turned out to become my reality. Those first months after his passing I was grateful for my business. I could open as I had the energy to do so without concern of losing my job or career.
I look back today and ponder how I survived the most devastating loss of my life and as a result of the loss also achieve some of my greatest personal and professional success.
Today I see my practice going in many directions. I will always work with clients, but I may take on a teletherapy approach, or write a book, or do volunteer work overseas. I am not sure, but what I do know is that I am not done. I know I have the skill to help others and I desire to do that, in as many ways as I can.”
Colleen reflects on becoming the breadwinner in the middle of a crisis
Reflection: “Do you wish your adversity had never happened; or are you grateful it did?”
No one is immune from adversity. – Pearl Galbraith Click To Tweet
“That’s a hard question because of course, I desire my husband back. Yet, without his heart attack, I would not be where I am today. The situation stretched me and pushed me, to do and to become the best I could be in order to take care of us. So, in that way, I am glad I was pushed.
I also have far more empathy for clients today than before this experience. I feel I am more effective at my work as I have not just head knowledge but also heart knowledge of what clients are experiencing.”
No one is immune from adversity, not Colleen, not my friend, not me. As working women, we need to proactively evaluate our situation to find the best solution to steer ourselves through the crisis. I can’t paint you a picture of a rosy outcome, but I am confident, that if you seek help and guidance, you will find it. You can become the breadwinner even when dealing with a medical crisis.
For more on making Lemonade Out of Lemons you would love Pearl’s book Lemon Crushers; A Working Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Adversity! There are stories about the qualities for success and overcoming your challenges. You’ll be ready to start crushing lemons after chapter one.
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