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Fatboy’s New Life and the Journey Getting There

TogetherSorry about dropping off the map here recently. I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook, but not here just for the sheer amount of time it takes to write content that I’m happy presenting to the world. Tonight, I’m making that time, even though I have a to-do list in front of me that is absent an entry about blogging. Oh well!

Friday was a life-changing day for the Petersen house. Beautiful’s last day at her office job came to a close at 4pm EST! After months of working conditions growing worse and it affecting her physically and emotionally, we threw in the towel trying to live a double life – a life where we get up 2 hours earlier than we should and spend too much energy repairing the damage done during the week in many areas of our lives. Monday will be her first day fully participating as a co-founder of Petersen Media Group and we are totally stoked!

It has always been my goal as a husband to be able to provide for her to be able to stay home if she chose. We’ve pretty much always struggled with our finances, either through a position of being underemployed or as a result of the crap life throws at you that end up costing an arm and a leg. We are finally going to take a leap and give this arrangement a college try.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

We, with me leading the way with some amount of insanity, have made incremental steps to get to this point. When we got married, I had a 7-5 job in a cube as a technical editor for a huge corporation with over 5,000 employees and government contracts through 2013. I started going back to school to finish my last 2 years of college so I could get my English degree for a better chance to get a 3rd promotion to the next level of hierarchy that actually receives the job title of “editor” and the pay that accompanies that duty. After a few semesters of working 40-50 hours and going to school for 6-7 hours after work, some remaining classes where only offered during the day and HR wouldn’t allow me to take those few hours per week off. They left me with no choice if I were to finish my education.

After 3 years and increasing my salary by 50% through hard work and certifications (and learning a whole heck of a lot about office life and working long hours under insane deadlines that energized me), I left the “safety” of that environment and all of its benefit packages to work from home with a small start-up of 5 people in Oklahoma creating products for this blogging software called WordPress. You may notice that this site is built on WordPress – because I have been using it for almost 6 years now and have spent well over 15,000 hours working, tweaking, and reading about it. They say you need to invest 10,000 hours into something to achieve expert status, so my months there really started getting me a name in the industry. After 5 months there, the decision was made for me to find other people to sign my checks. Groundhog Day, 2009. It was the day after the Super Bowl. Hours after a great day with family, I was unemployed.

Beautiful came home at lunch to a broken man. It was only a matter of a couple of hours before I had one of my most gut-wrenching discussions with her. “I can’t go back to work for anyone else again,” I said, completely unable to control my emotions. “They can just throw me away, and it’s happened too many times in my life now” (3 times). I could see it in her eyes that she believed me, that I couldn’t take that rejection again, but what other choice was there? I had people from a blogging conference I went to the previous two years who wanted sites but knew I was too busy to get them set up and I had customers from that job who needed more than I could offer with my workload. I was helping some of them in the evenings and was putting in an extra 3-7 hours each night learning more and working their projects on the side. That was some nice money, for sure, but it obviously didn’t last. I asked Beautiful to give me a 1- and 3-month chance to make it on my own. One month to make money and three months to make as much as I was before.

We formed an LLC and I wrapped up all of the work a few of those people wanted within a month and was soon working on the next month’s expenses. I contacted some people from the conference and was working on another month beyond the month we were just starting. I had a hiccup of about 2 weeks with nothing to do that scared the crap out of me. That didn’t last long because within 2 days we had 4 or 5 new projects come rolling in. I haven’t had a break since. Our worst month ever was February 2010 when I didn’t have anything getting done because my last semester was taking up way too much time. We had to dip into savings, but it was all temporary to get through graduation and hit work like never before. It paid off big-time because we had nine times the revenue in June as we did in February. That is the power of a single-minded approach. Between June and December, I grossed more than my corporate salary was after my final raise. We had a whole, bunch, gobs, ton more expenses than ever before (and more than I could have imagined we would encounter in 7 months), but we survived.

Today, I’ve been too busy to get all of my work done because of the exhaustion of life with a worn-out wife who was being eaten up by work and chores. We just haven’t been having any fun for months, really. We’d go out a few times, but we mostly sat at home too exhausted to go out or caged at home because of the food allergies that came to a head for her after Labor Day. As a result, my open project list had grown to over 10 open projects just waiting for the work to be completed. Not quite free money, but “just do the work and you’ll get paid” money ripe for the picking. Both of the previous steps were agonizingly difficult for her, and she just wasn’t willing to do that again…

Until she had her resolve broken by a simply typical day at the office that made her realize that things were never going to change and that she was not able to continue working where she even had a physical reaction from the environment there. They’re really nice people individually, but all together they have issues that were not going to be resolved any time soon. It was time. She put in her notice last Wednesday and sold our vending machine on premises this Thursday. We have her health insurance application underway for her own individual policy with her current insurance company and expect an acceptance within 6 weeks.

I am SO excited to finally get to work with my better half. She is far more organized than I am and will keep things running like a well-oiled machine and keep me working on the right projects in the right order just as she helped me learn how to pay my bills in the right order so I had money left when the next one was due. She is simply amazing! We will soon to be able to take time during the week for ourselves, enjoy weekends without a list of chores, attend conferences, and travel to see our grandparents in the North and Far North (also known as Canada) on a long road trip. We love to drive – fly, not so much (although I’m a big fan of flying, it’s a big pain with all of my meds and equipment) – and are ecstatic about the freedom we have now to roam about the country. I’ve never been to NYC, California, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or all of those great food places on Man v Food that we want to try.

Oh, I also expect to be able to blog more starting Monday (or next month if it takes me that long to have time) and gain some considerable weight.

Comments

  1. Unknowncystic says:

    Excellent post. I have 100 percent confidence the two of you will do great and never look back at the restrictive work lives you gave up.

  2. Hurrah! Glad the time has finally arrived! Praying for God’s blessings to overflow your cups. May He give you wisdom and strength in the days and weeks ahead — and always!!
    – Mom

  3. This sounds like a really positive chapter in your lives is about to begin, and I hope it’s an awesome one!

  4. Smells like success! I have no doubt the two of you will accomplish what you set out to. Congratulations on the new job and the new hire, Petersen Media Group!

  5. Aunt Sandi says:

    Seems like the only logical decision. May the paths on your journey be smooth. If not at least you can pull each other over the bumps.

  6. That is totally awesome! I can fully understand 1) never wanting to work for someone else again and 2) having a harmful work environment that makes the choice for you to leave that much easier.

    I couldn’t see working with Greg all the time – because we are so different in the way we think (which is good for our marriage – not for business). However, you and Beautiful seem to be an a very bright path and I am super excited for you both!

    Many blessings!