Throwing In The Towel?

Everyone dreams of a better life and better future, especially if you have kids. I am no different. Here I am, just turning 40 years old, and according to my dreams, should have accomplished everything I have been working toward by now. But, as many of you can testify to, the road to my dream life has been paved with obstacles, disappointments and even bad decisions. So, at what point do you throw in the towel and call it quits? At what point do you abandon the belief that faith can move mountains? At what point do you look at your kids and tell them that mommy has failed miserably and life as we know it is about to change for the worst? Well you DON’T! You don’t ever give up! You don’t ever lose your faith! Don’t ever throw in the towel! And you certainly don’t ever let your kids down!

I am in the middle of one of the worse storms in my life. As a single mother of two wonderful kids, it’s all on me to give them a secure life and future, which is very different from how I grew up. I was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica and have experienced a life of poverty. My parents were poor, but we didn’t know it as kids. We didn’t know that other folks have indoor plumbing, we didn’t know that Santa Clause brought presents to kids every Christmas, we didn’t know that you are supposed to eat three meals a day and we didn’t know that malls existed. We were happy, because we had God in our lives and we had each other. Things were a lot simpler back then, but I aspired to greatness and a life on the other side of poverty. I did fairly well in school and got my first job at age 17 working at the largest financial institution in Jamaica…that was a big deal. I bought my first car, a subaru Justy, at age 20 (also a big deal) and did quite ok for myself. The unlikeliness of a girl who grew up in one of Montego Bay’s poorest communities, accomplishing these things at age 20 was very inspiring. Girls my age where I grew up were busy having babies through unplanned pregnancies. I was determined to beat the odds.

I eventually married and moved to the United States at age 24. This meant giving up the good life I had created for myself to be with the man I loved. Bad decision number one was moving in with his mother and other siblings; that arrangement went south very quickly. It actually caused us to eventually divorce. One beautiful thing came from this failed marriage and that is my beautiful and talented daughter, Courtney who is now 15, and has made me so proud. I see so much of myself in her. Hardships only make me work harder, and so I went from being almost homeless to getting a great job and my first apartment. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be an Interior Designer! I couldn’t get enough of HGTV and interior design publications like Traditional Home and House Beautiful. The icing on the cake at this point was meeting a wonderful man that I would soon marry and have a wonderful son, Joshua, who is now 11. Interior Design school took a back burner to being a wife and mom and purchasing our first home together. It was tough getting there, alot of sacrificing and saving every penny we could, but we got there. We were the proud new owners of a quaint 1700 square foot treasure in West Palm Beach, FL. Life was good. We were happy and felt very fulfilled. But that was very short lived, as we found out shortly afterwards that my husband had cancer. Sacky was only 31 years old and had no signs of being sick. The only thing that prompted me to be concerned was some weight loss and extreme fatique. Now that I recall, he had persistent back pains, but was being treated by a chiropractor. These signs were not uncommom for his job as a warehouse manager, but I was concerned enough to schedule a doctors appointment for him. That’s when we got the horrible news that he had stage 4 cancer. We still don’t know which part of his body it all started, because his oncologist was less concerned about that and wanted to aggressively treat him with both radiation and chemotherapy. A year of rapid weight and hair loss, multiple blood transfusions, being in and out of the hospital, and intensive care unit, ended in the death of my beloved on January 30, 2004. He was only 32, our son, only 2. I didn’t know what hit us. If there was ever a time to throw in the towel, it was then. In fact, I did for almost a year. I was numb and only have vague recollections of what my life was like. I blamed God for taking him away far too soon. I couldn’t stand to be in that house anymore, I blamed it for Sacky working so hard, I wanted to move! I did, I moved far away to Katy, TX so my kids could move forward. I worked hard to keep his memory alive since our children were so young. The kids adjusted well and we slowly got back to a normal life. I eventually found a job with a national homebuilder and was laid off about a year later when the economy started to take a turn for the worst. I had to think quickly – why not start that design business I’ve been dreaming of? Well as they say necessity is the mother of invention, I started Casa Vilora Interiors in January of 2008. Business was slow, but I was confident it would get better. The reality was that it wasn’t bringing in enough money to pay the bills, so I had to take on other jobs. I dreamed of the day when it would be my only career focus.

That day came recently, after many financial set backs and quite honestly, financial mistakes I made. I had spent most of my savings on living expenses and was at the point where this business had to work.
I prayed long and hard and stepped out in faith and leased my current studio location. I had a small amount in savings and I quickly used it up on the buildout and set up of the studio. I had verbal promises from a few vendors who were willing to help me get set up with some of their merchandise, but in the end only one came through for me. It is amazing how you will find yourself alone when you need people the most. It was now up to God and myself to get this show on the road. It is still an uphill battle. As things stand today, my design studio is half finished, business is at an all time low and I am struggling to make ends meet both personally and in the business. I am at the point of selling my home, to access some equity and reduce monthly expenses. it’s not looking good. I go from my faith being strong one day to cursing God the next. But all in all, I am holding on to His promises, because I believe that He has given me this dream and He will finish this work that He started in me. I am patiently waiting and God I hope it is soon. For the first time ever, my kids will not get presents for Christmas, but instead of complaining, they are very supportive. Yes, I do feel like throwing in the towel, in fact everyday. But my kids are watching, and that’s not what I want them to learn from all of this. I want them to learn to fight through even the worst of situations, if it’s God’s will for their lives. I want them to be proud of me.

2013 will bring new challenges I’m sure, but it will also bring new opportunities and a new beginning. I am actually excited about the new year. I pray and dream that God will send an investor willing to stake $50,000 to get this dream from the valley of the shadow of death to mountain top. I pray that God will send lots of customers through the doors of Casa Vilora Interiors. I pray that God will give me the heart to help others who are right where I am. I haven’t lost the dream, and I certainly don’t plan to. Check me out in a few months, you will be surprised to see that the dream is a reality! Never throw in the towel!

I hope any one reading this post will find some inspiration through my story. I am determined to accomplish my dream and my goal. My kids will have a great future! My posts in the future will be mostly about interior design, I just wanted to take this opportunity to give my readers a brief glimpse into my life. Thanks for reading and I wish you God’s richest blessings in your life and career. Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2013 and beyond!