Finding the Gift in Adversity: It’s Always There


My dad before he died at 32
My dad before he died at 32

Today I live a blessed life.  I am married to the man of my dreams, I live in a beautiful home on the lake, have loving friends and family and the financial freedom to pursue my passions doing what I love in life.  But it hasn’t always been this way.

I remember my mother telling me about the time when I was a little girl and when we didn’t have groceries or even milk.  My grandmother would come over to make sure she had milk for me without telling my father because he was so proud.  When we ate potatoes, we had to give the skins to our Labrador because we couldn’t afford dog food.  My father was a roofer and many times he would not get paid.  This was when he decided to join the Army.

In fact, when my father joined the army, we thought we were rich.  The army gave us a beautiful apartment in Germany.  I remember my mom saying how lucky we were because we could have a cleaning lady and our apartment really was beautiful.  She loved living in Germany.

Then that dream ended when my father died.  I was just six and my brothers were just four and two.  My dad was a hunter and he had gone duck hunting to bring home Christmas dinner.  He never returned – he drowned. It was December 19th, 1964 during Vietnam War.

My mother had to move back to Michigan to be near her family.  She was able to pay cash for a small home with my father’s military life insurance.  Between her widow’s benefits and driving the school bus she was able to take pretty good care of us.  I still remember some really fun times back then even though we didn’t have much money.

But my mother wanted someone to take care of her. She was looking for her Prince Charming.  What she ended up with was a monster — literally.  I remember the night she introduced us to this man who she said would become our new father.  I was terrified and cried myself to sleep that night.

Over the next nine years – our lives were a living hell and my brothers and I lived in constant fear and abuse.  Although my mother did not protect us, I know today that she was doing the best she could.  She was plagued by obsessive compulsive behavior – her way of numbing out – but this made her unavailable to us emotionally.

I grew up too fast and was given so much responsibly as a caregiver to my grandparents and my brothers at the same time.  I also cooked, clean the house and was always out fundraising door to door helping raise money for the poor or to raise funds for our school.  This was something I loved and was great at.  It gave me confidence.  I also learned that I loved helping others or leading a cause.  I discovered this when I was just 12 years old.

Often when there is domestic violence, there is also financial abuse.  When my mother finally divorced my step father, my youngest brother was in a foster home, she was homeless because my step-father had taken the equity from her home. She had lost all her government benefits, had no income and she had breast cancer.

By this time, I was on my own.  Because I was technically a “war orphan”, I had free tuition to college and income from the government to help support me while I was in school.

But the Universe had another plan for me.

In my third year of college, I ended up marrying my own monster.  He said loved me, but I knew in my heart that he was evil.  He had been a professional student with three Master’s Degrees and needed to keep his green card.  He had shown the signs, but because I wanted to be loved and taken care of, I thought I could change him and I married him anyway.  I was just 19 and going back to the familiar.  

Nine months later when I tried to leave the marriage he put me in the hospital.  The detective was taking pictures of my broken and bruised face and asked me who would be picking me up.  I had no one to call.  I was all alone.

I was also all alone when I went to court for the criminal charges.  Immigration had charges against him too and at the court house he was waiting for me.  He jumped into my car and he threatened to track me down and kill me if I didn’t drop the charges against him.  I believed him and dropped the charges.

Here I was.  I had hit rock bottom.  I was living in a subsidized town house with no income, no job, and a broken down car.  Worst of all, I had lost my father’s legacy. The college education he had left me was gone and I really was all alone.

So how did I get from where I was back then – to where I am today?  In that moment in my life when I had hit rock bottom, a miracle happened.  I picked up the book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill and it changed my life forever because I found my burning desire and it gave me hope, faith and I felt inspired.    I learned about the Law of Attraction and how I could create any life I wanted if I just had a vision, did the work and never gave up.

Well that became the model for the rest of my life, because I am driven to succeed, a student of life, always learning and studying to improve and I never, ever give up when I have a dream.

My dream was to never be a victim again and to be financially independent. I was just 21.  I found a job with tuition reimbursement, health insurance and a retirement plan as a clerk typist.  Soon I realized that I was not only terrible at detail work, but it was sucking the life out of me and I had to do something else.

Because I still did not have a degree, I thought what else could I do?  And then it hit me, I was great at sales.  I had spent years going door to door raising money for the poor and the needy, I was always the top fundraiser at school when we had contests, and at 15, I had even worked making phone sales by calling from the phone book.  I know it sounds terrible, but for me, it was fun.  

I went to an employment agency and interviewed with two companies; a company that offered services where business owners trade services and a financial planning company called IDS.  I took the job working with the business owners.  I know today it was all part of a divine plan, because years later I would actually end up working for IDS and the contacts and experience that I gained in those early years would be the catalyst that lead me to becoming one of the top financial advisors in the country.

Although it may sound cliché, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. We each have chosen to come here with a divine purpose although we have no idea what it is.  Our journey in life is to figure this out and it’s normally not easy.

At 25, I took a job selling Hondas and this was a major turning point in my life.  Using my selling skills that I had acquired over the last 10 years, not only did I become one of the top earners in the company (earning six figures in today’s dollars), but I met my fabulous current husband who I’ve been married to now for almost 30 years.  He came in to buy a car from me.

Over the next 20 years, I did do the work and I got smart about money, I became a Certified Financial Plannerhelping hundreds of people achieve their financial goals.  I was at the top of my game — And then something happened – I had this feeling there was something more to why I was here – a purpose I was not fulfilling in my soul.

I realized that while helping my clients achieve their financial goals I often found myself helping them find their souls purpose and follow their dreams.

But what was MY dream?  Well the Universe has a funny way of helping us get what we truly want when we make a decision.

What I did next changed my life.  I hired a coach who guided me spiritually and what I discovered was helping my clients find their soul’s purpose and follow their dreams was actually my soul’s purpose and my dream.  It’s what made me truly happy.

Because I had created a team and systems to so my business could literally run without me, at 48 I was able to sell my financial planning practice to my partner for one million dollars.  This allowed me to follow my dream of helping women on their journey of self-discovery, healing, guidance, and building abundance and prosperity in their lives.

I founded a global online community called Smart Women’s Coaching® and my nonprofit, The Smart’s Empowerment Program with the intention of creating a community of women working together to reinvent their lives and grow wealth while following their passions and life purpose.

Product-Graphic_9-2-12.katanaabbott.sallieNone of this was easy.  In fact so much of it was very, very difficult, but when I look back over my life, I can now see that it was a series of steps in an ongoing process that I have used over and over to overcome my fears and manifest each dream.  I actually call this process The Six Pillars of Awakened Prosperity System™ and it starts with the Dream, then Discovery, the Leap, the Plan, the Dance and finally Mastery.

All of it was perfect — the experiences, good and bad so that I could fulfill my life purpose.  There are three very simple secrets that make this whole process easier so you can go to the next level in life, aligned in your true purpose and they are:

  1. Finding a mentor or a guide who has been where you want to go and following them.  It takes 10 years or 10,000 hours to become an expert in your field – so shorten this journey with a guide.  This could be a program even a book.
  2. Identify your tribe and surround yourself with people who love and support you and who will hold you accountable to your dream.  Don’t do it alone. 
  3. Learn how to manage your energy and mindset.  So often we give up just before we reach success, or because of limiting beliefs or because we need to the tools to keep us inspired and able to finish what we start.

I am a contributing author in a book called, Thank God I, titled “Thank God I was Abandoned and Abused”.  Now I look for the gift in every experience because it’s always there.  The secret is never losing faith and trusting the process.  Once you do, the magic begins to happen and life begins to flow.

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