Love, Loss and Lessons | My Decade in Review

It's not what happens to us, it's how we react to it that matters.

Now that I've had a chance to breathe from the holidays, I wanted to share my decade in review. I decided to put this in writing as a reminder to myself that I went through a sh!t storm but came out the other side. If you're currently feeling like the universe hates you and you can't seem to catch a break, hopefully, this will give you some light of hope!

The decade started with me living in Austin and working for Paypal. I learned a lot from the corporate world and gained a lot of valuable experience. Career-wise I was killing it. My personal life had a few challenges- or rather, one big problem in the form of my ex-husband Simon. In 2011, he decided to get himself thrown into jail for unlawfully carrying a firearm, so I swept up my son and moved us back to Dallas- only to let him back into our lives again in November. If you’ve never been in a toxic relationship before, the back and forth is a tough concept to grasp. If you have, then this might sound all too familiar.

2012 was a chaotic mess of bouncing around temporary living situations and feeling constant fear and shame. My ex accidentally shot a beloved pet, and a month later we had a house fire and lost almost everything. To make things worse, I was investigated and almost charged with arson. Residue from that gunshot made it look like there were multiple points of acceleration. The months I spent trying to deal with this made me isolated and afraid, which brought me closer to Simon.

The next year was eventful. I decided that I wanted to finally make the jump into owning my own business, so I purchased my first Painting with a Twist franchise, while still working full time for PayPal. Sadly, I had a miscarriage in March of 2013, which was even more traumatic because while in Greece for our honeymoon two months later, complications from that terminated pregnancy landed me in a hospital in a foreign country, hemorrhaging and terrified. During the long ride to the hospital, all I could think about was Alec and my mom. Waking up in a hospital where the doctors and nurses couldn’t speak English was horrifying. Fortunately, I made it through, and the rest of the year was relatively uneventful, but certainly not newly wedded bliss.

In 2014 I bought my second Painting With a Twist franchise and a new house right before I was laid off from Paypal. Up until that point, I was working a full-time job, managing a business, in the process of opening up another, seeing Alec through high school, all while dealing with a toxic marriage. Our first anniversary was spent on the road to attend the memorial of Simon’s best friend who died of a heroin overdose. Drugs and violence and infidelity were weighing heavy on my marriage (on HIS part, not mine).

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Simon and I went to our weekly couple’s therapy session. Towards the end of our therapy, he grabbed my hand, looked me in the eyes and told me how much he loved me and that I was the only person he lusted after. The next morning, I found him dead in our bedroom. He had died in his sleep- his heart finally gave out from years of abuse. Later that evening I decided to respond to the many texts he had been receiving when I saw his messages. We had been battling his serial cheating throughout our relationship, so why would it surprise me that he used his last breath to continue this trend? His dead best friend’s girlfriend was the last person he thought about before he died. Class act.

I started 2015  on a journey of self-discovery all over the world. I had to resolve some things inside myself, sort out some of my codependency issues and figure out how I could have lost so much of myself in the toxicity of that relationship. Travel became a therapeutic experience, time and space to spend with myself. Along that journey, I met Steve! He was also struggling with grief after the loss of both parents, and a mutual acquaintance connected us. We met in person for the first time in Thailand after messaging for a few months, and we’ve been together ever since.

The quote I lived by in 2015

Krabi, Thailand

Enjoying Thai New Year celebration

In 2016, Alec graduated from high school and left for college that fall and I got to experience the feeling of empty nesting. I also said goodbye to my first Painting with a Twist franchise. Letting go of my babies was difficult, but it left space for me to do even more traveling, pursue new interests and find my passion. Over the course of the decade, I moved 7 times, flipped houses, purchased rentals (including one I still own in Tulum!) and visited 27 different countries. All of this led to my current business, Wander Wear! 

Dropping Alec off at Texas Tech

Painting with a Twist Plano

Signed my contract for the condo in Tulum

Flipped my first investment home

Hiked to Havasupai, AZ - 37.5 miles, lived minimally in a tent, pee'd in the woods bathed in the streams

My support system

2018 was a big year for me. I decided to go all-in with my relationship and sold just about everything to move to the west coast to be with Steve. Then last year we made the decision to move to Seattle! Learning to work fully remotely is another challenge that I’m still figuring out, but after almost a year of trying to run two businesses from another state, fall of 2019 I made the decision to move Wander Wear to Seattle as well.

So here I am! Starting 2020 by fully investing myself, my business, and my relationship in Seattle. I’ve got a physical office space now, just a few blocks from my home, and I’m really looking forward to the next steps I have planned. It’s too soon to generalize about what the next decade will bring, but 2020 is going to be really exciting!

xoxo,

Tina

Ran my first half-marathon

First time back in Laos with the family

When you're blessed with besties

Grateful for my new family

With Heather and Matt in Seattle

West Coast Crew

Wander Wear Launch Party Speech

It was a fun night!

Seattle is now home

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