Life Begins at… (you fill in the blank!)

Have you ever had to start over? Begin again? Of course you have! We all have. Some of us have been confronted with being laid off or a divorce or a tragedy or a diagnosis or just turning 50 and wondering, “is this all there is?” or “what do I do next?”

Since the blog launched a week ago and I started both this blog (with big plans!) and my India Hicks business, I have had a LOT of women tell me how brave I am or that only a certain type of person can rebuild, reinvent and start anew. I’m here to tell you, friends, it isn’t true.

It is honestly at your darkest, hardest, most confusing moments and experiences in this life when, if you just stop the “chaos” in your head, your words and your actions and just BE STILL, be alone with yourself that clarity finds its way into your stillness.

I have started over…several times. I have reinvented until I got it “right”- at least for that time period in my life. Oh, and sometimes I got it wrong and had to start anew again.

When I first had two young children 22 months apart, I was starting over. I had a husband at the time who worked a LOT, several of my friends were still single or newly married with no children, we lived for a very short time in a suburb of Dallas and not near anyone I knew…I felt alone and was terrified that this was it for me. My youngest, a little girl, had colic, so we cried quite a bit together in those early months. But I joined groups, worked at least part-time for adult conversation, and started pursuing new things (at the time it was expanding my business as a counselor/educational diagnostician, all while exploring future opportunities as a consultant).

When my husband and I divorced at his insistence, after 10 ½ years of marriage and two children, I was starting over. I felt alone and was terrified. I had sold the practice with my Mom and just dabbled in the Development Consultant world. I was trying to figure out how to “be single again” when none of my close circle of friends was, deal with the disappoinbeach-yogatment I perceived my parents had in me and now I needed to work full-time, with no leads. I was doing Yoga at the time to help with recovery for a knee injury. So I decided to get my 200-hour yoga certification and help the studio’s owner run the studio.

Not long thereafter, that same father of my children who, reluctantly, was still paying for their school tuition and child support, was arrested by the FBI and sent to prison for his involvement/activities as a part of NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association). Yes, in a moment, I walked into a search and seizure and life as my children and I knew it would never be the same. The financial support was gone; our world was filled with FBI agents, attorneys, and counselors for a long time. I was starting over. I felt alone and terrified.

The media wanted me to talk about our crazy story. They wanted to talk about him. They wanted to talk about my children. I was starting over and I felt alone and terrified. My friends at Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center walked with me as I began to tell my story to small groups, creating an awareness that child sexual abuse can happen anywhere (not just in certain “parts of town” or socioeconomic or racial parameters). I did an interview for D Magazine. I went on 20/20, To Catch a Predator and The Oprah Winfrey Show and used mine and my children’s story to build awareness about NAMBLA and the importance of child abuse prevention.

The new bank in our community, of which I was a customer and knew the founder and several directors, offered me a job. I did not want to be a banker. It offered health insurance coverage for my then 8 and 10 year old children and I would be a W-2 employee. I’d never done that before, but I took it on. I knew NOTHING about banking. I knew NOTHING about building the clientele for a bank. I accepted the job.

I felt alone and terrified. In an effort to build a broader customer-base for the bank while building true community partnerships in the neighborhoods we served, I started the Women in Business Program. Today, I coordinate three WIB networking groups for Veritex Bank, the WIB Summer Internship Program and have a portfolio of some of the most amazing customers. I am a banker…who knew?!?!?!PND

I wrote in my journals incessantly for the first 2 years after the arrest and, with the help of friends, wrote a book, “The Predator Next Door.” While it was incredibly therapeutic for me as a woman and a mother, I felt alone. I was terrified to actually publish it and let the world see me in all of my rawness. I published the book, which eventually was honored with two book awards. I began my professional speaking business.

I met a great guy and we became friends. I fell in love with him while I had two preteenagers at home. I was terrified. I had trust issues (imagine that!), I had control issues. I married him, and have had to work hard to overcome these issues that could single-handedly tear any relationship apart. We became empty nesters together (that is a whole blog in and of itself). We struggled, then we figured it out and I am spending the rest of my life with my handsome and adventurous best friend by my side.

I am turning 50 this year, have worked hard for the community on a variety of Boards, am a Senior VP at the bank but, call me crazy, needed something more. Needed something that was meaningful in the deepest part of my soul. Something I could see myself doing for the next 25 years. I felt alone (and a bit crazy!), terrified, but I decided to take on two things that I hoped would bring others joy, fun, smiles as much as it would for me. So I have launched Evolution of SHE and I have launched concurrently my India Hicks business, and scheduling “Sip, Shop & inSpire” events across the state of Texas. Still on a couple of Boards, still a banker and coordinator of WIB (because I absolutely LOVE what I do) and, yes, still sleeping 7-8 hours every night.

Ladies, I am not magical. I am not superwoman. I have felt alone in a crowded room a LOT in this lifetime. I have been terrified…still am sometimes. But life really is short and meant to be LIVED. Comfortable, in my world, is synonymous with STAGNANT.

Starting anew, reinventing…it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating, it is my life. The only thing holding you back is fear. But this discomfort in my belly has lit a fire that will not be extinguished.

What do you want to start anew? What makes you happy? What are you good at and could you make a living doing it? Start with just answering those simple questions then make a plan. A “one step at a time” plan. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, emotionally, physically or financially. Baby steps can be exhilarating!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” –Neale Donald Walsch

Note from the SHE files: Live life OUT LOUD and start something new!

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6 years ago

Great post, Darlene – thank you for sharing! It’s been wonderful to be your friend for the last several years of this exciting journey! I’m looking forward to watching your journey unfold through your 50s and beyond. I hope it’s all wonderful surprises for you from here on.