Archive for the ‘My Story’ Category

For those of you who have been following this blog, you may recall financial stress.

My best-kept secret was that on April 19, 2011 I declared bankruptcy.

The direct cause-and-effect event that led me there was an “intentional wealth” course that I took back in 2007.  When all investments purchased through this group started to fail in 2009, I was told by the CFO to “keep the faith” and “stay positive” — because your mindset effects all things universal. Read the rest of this entry »

Yep, I even had an executive summary. This was the front page of the document I pre-submitted to the courts. Names, and some other personal information of others, have been removed. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the beef, the full document with footnotes and cross references that I submitted to the BC Supreme Court before my appearance. Note that I’ve left the name of the Intention Wealth company out and the actual people involved. While I still curse them, I did learn a lot from them. And they have since changed the products they support. And if I want my past by-gones be by-gones, then doggone I’ve got to do the same thing. (If you want to know who they are, contact me. I’ll tell you in person. But I won’t randomly blow it out to the universe.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Below is the document that I read in court to present my side of the story. The lawyer I consulted before-hand told me that nine times out of ten, the courts accepted the trustee’s recommendations. My trustee was recommending an additional 12 months in bankruptcy. Based on those odds, the lawyer felt that taking money to represent me was an expensive exercise in futility. So I delved into the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and wrote my story. The document was submitted to the courts a few days prior to my court appearance; the conclusion, which is below, was read in person by myself in court.

Here it is. Read the rest of this entry »

6
Dec

The choices we make

   Posted by: Britt Tags: , ,

I was recently challenged by a friend, who made it clear to me that she bases the control of her life on accepting that everything revolves around the choices she makes.

I’ve heard that a lot in Law of Attraction circles, and it smacks to me of blaming the victim. You wouldn’t have been raped if you didn’t wear that dress and didn’t go to that bar. Your father wouldn’t have touched you if you didn’t let it happen.

Yes, life is twisted and shaped because of our decisions. And I’m the last one to advocate blame. In fact, one-third of my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman, is dedicated to accountability. Accountability, summed up, means “owning your own shit.”

Yet, there is a time in one’s life that a line must be drawn in the sand, a line that separates my choices from your actions.

Yes, I wore that dress to the bar. Yet, he’s the one who raped me.

What you did and who’s at fault are two completely different things.

Yes, I let my father continue to touch me. I was stunned into submission and since he was the authority figure in my life, I didn’t know where else to turn. Yet, he’s the one who acted out his fantasy.

What you did and who’s at fault, again, two completely different things.

I think it’s an oversimplification to say that you are responsible for everything that has happened to you as a result of your choices. It’s an easy way out for the perpetrator. It’s a camouflaged deflection of responsibility using counter-blame.

The sweet thing (and the equally frustrating thing) about human beings is our complexity. And when you hear a gross over-simplification, examine it. You might be surprised at what you find underneath.

13
Oct

Can you help?

   Posted by: Britt

I’m calling on you to answer a very short six-question survey for me.

It’s a marketing research questionnaire that will help me set up an educational resource for people in financial distress. Many of whom, like myself, bilked by the self-help industry. Please take two minutes to answer the six short question in this survey.

Thanks folks!

Okay you curious lookie-Lou’s (and lookie-Louise’s). Here a bit about me. Me talking about my book, The Three Strategies of the Unstoppable Woman. This way, you will know a bit about my views and philosophies. And you’ll also have an introduction to the three strategies: accountability, collaboration, and initiative. It’s my first kick-at-the-can video, so your feedback is invited and welcomed. Thanks!

Oh yeah, and Youtube decided to feature my single scowl. Don’t worry, I’m not that scary. I subscribe to learning through laughter. Believe it or not.

Well, today is my birthday. Today is the day that I turn 46. Today will also mark the beginning of my blogging about my own process.

For anyone following this blog regularly, you will know that I too was taken in (“scammed” is another great word for it) by the Law of Attraction. My husband and I were “students” of what I now call quasi-gurus (those who had learned from the gurus and decided to make their own little fist-full of money teaching their watered down version of it … subconsciously perhaps having come to the realization that what made these gurus wealthy in the first place was not their own entrepreneurial ventures but their teachings).

The thing is, the whole reason why I fell for these quasi-gurus was anchored in the fact that I had known the husband of the woman teacher for about ten years. I trusted him implicitly — indeed I looked up to him — and through him I trusted his wife. The wife who I’ll refer to as Missus, had taken seminars from Robert Allen (Real Estate guru). She teamed up with another gleaming-toothed salesman (who I’ll call Snake) who had taken a number of T. Harv Eker courses (I’m assuming the one on teaching seminars as well). The two, I now know, were armed with their little success, which they puffily expanded in their free introductory course.

Selling us on a myriad of products, ranging from tax strategies to paper investments, the pressure was on to “start now,” as nothing was worse than financial gains delayed — nay lost — due to failure to act NOW, in the moment when an opportunity presented itself.

Before this, I had a pretty good financial situation in life. I had a credit rating of 825, which is in the top 15 percentile. Me and my husband had bought a condominium (mostly using my funds that I have saved for the down payment) that had doubled in value over three years. And thanks to a private contribution from my father given in perpetuity against my inheritance, our mortgage was pretty much paid off.

So I really thought I had a good foundational understanding of how money worked. And what the quasi gurus taught us made sense. And I’m one to shoot from the hip if it feels right. And their information felt right. They were very convincing. And even though I had little voices sounding off in the back of my head, we wanted the future they promised us. For us, but also for our newborn daughter. We wanted to secure a future for her. So on the “good” counsel from Missus and Snake, me and my husband tapped out our credit (their mantra is getting rich on OPM — Other People’s Money — which in this case meant the bank’s). We tapped into the “cheap money” available in our home (took out a second mortgage). And we purchased a range of “products” from their snake-oil business (which btw promised intentional wealth).

For about a year, we were held in the high esteem of these quasi-gurus, featured as star students for the other classes that came behind us (my husband was in their first seminar group, and I was in their second). They even went so far as to have me as a guest speaker on one of their many free seminars they held for bootcamp grads.

Fast forward a few years. One by one, slowly and painfully, each and every “product” or investment purchased from this “wealthy by intention” group flailed, then failed. They stopped touting our success as it was essentially a recognition of their profound failure. At first, Missus told me to stay the course. I just needed to stay strong, keep my mind on course. I could let a few failures make me stop investing (and of course the ultimate sales pitch is the frenzied cry, “If you stop, you’ll never get rich”), or I could stay the course. Believe it, and I will conceive it.

I got poorer and increasingly bitter. The relationship between me and my husband became strained. The quasi-gurus changed their tactics and started moving away from third party products and towards real-estate. And they definitely stopped looking in our general direction. We went from being their star students to being dust bunnies, frantically covered over least anyone should see us.

In our final consultation with these quasi-gurus, I distinctly recall Missus not-so-gently reminding me and my husband that no one forced us to make our decisions, that it was us, not them, who signed on the dotted line. And note that the Law of Attraction gurus are all notoriously good at this one: Failure can never be attributed to the teacher but rests solely on the shoulders of the student. (I am keenly following the James Arthur Ray trial to see which way this goes.)

I’ve given this a lot of consideration over the years, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the teacher also holds a portion of responsibility. By virtue of being a teacher, you step into a trusted position of authority. If a teacher abuses her or his trust (say by teaching unethical concepts or practices), that teacher is also responsible for the outcome. If I as a teacher teach my students to hate a certain category of humans, and then one of my students goes out and kills someone, I might not have pulled the trigger but I am guilty of directly contributing to the death of another person.

Likewise, this particular agency presented their success under false premises. Missus and Snake each proclaimed they were financially free and were teaching this course from the goodness of their hearts. We later find out that that proclamation might have been true for a month or two, but not as a perpetual state of living. They also taught us the “five pillars” upon which all successful investments were based, and then showed us how each of their products lived up to at least four of the five (and they always had a great way of spinning the fifth). And then they’d backed it with the claim that their financial successes were all based on previous versions of these products. (In some cases, the revisioned versions were to salvage the first iteration. So essentially they were selling products in the hopes of salvaging their own original investments. Aka a ponzi scheme. Again, something we found out at a later date, when it was much to late for us.)

So, yes, we did sign on the dotted line. Not that accountability is an issue, as every single day I am confronted with the results of my signing on the dotted line. I have to live with my decisions, and I have to try to move forward each and every day. But without their “goodly” (snake-oil) guidance, we never would have made the decisions we did.

Fast forward to today. I’m working with a bankruptcy consultant. Our monthly cost of living is upward to $13,000 a month. It is unsustainable.

In an attempt to protect the money my father contributed toward my mortgage, I explored putting up their loan as a lien against our house. I consulted a lawyer. (Two emails cost me $180!!) In wanting to at least protect his investment, I  finally had to tell them, him and his wife, about my financial outlook. Not the details, because I’m still incredibly embarrassed and ashamed about having gone from almost mortgage-free with a credit rating of 825 at age 41 to bankrupt at age 46. But I did state that I wanted them to register a lien against our house so that they would be paid back should we have to go that route.

Turns out, the money came from his wife, so my dad turned it over to her. And she laid into me today, telling me how disappointed and troubled she is, that I’m trying to get them to register a lien on an already fully mortgaged house. She seems to have spun this around into me further taking advantage of them. And she’s laying it on thick and heavy.

Sadly, there’s nothing she can say or do to make feel worse than I’m already feeling. She cannot rake me over the coals anymore than I’ve already raked myself. I’ve lived in the depths of utter despair. Suicide had been a serious contemplation for months.

The money was given by them against my future inheritance, and it was given without a repayment plan. As the house increased in value, so to did their share. And whatever the value of the house was at the time of their demise, that was to be taken from my inheritance. We all signed papers to that effect, without lawyers.

And now my step-mother feels cheated, hurt and angry, and deserving an explanation. And I stand here in my midlife knowing that I’ve screwed up beyond repair. I’ve squandered my future, and I’ve also damaged my daughter’s financial future. My relationship with my husband is strained. And while the money was given with an initial intention of being permanent and without payment, it turns out there are tremendously thick strings attached. So when all this is said and done and put squarely behind me, when I can finally laugh about, “Oh, and remember the time where I got screwed over by … hahaha oh wasn’t that something,” I am determined to get this last financial monkey of my back. No idea how I’m going to do it yet, but I am going to pay that woman back and free myself from the burden of her disappointment. And firmly close that door behind me.

So the disintegration of family begins. Bankruptcy is truly just the beginning. And as far as the first day of my 47th year in life goes, it truly sucks.

I’ll keep you posted, because the only thing I have left is my story. And maybe it can help someone else travelling this same path beside me. Or prevent someone from going down that path in the first place.

December eighth. A perfect day. I launched my book online, secured “Amazon bestseller” status, and I watched my daughter’s school’s Christmas show.

Then came the phone call.

“Your mother’s in the hospital,” were the first words out of my step-father’s mouth. I just listened. Turns out she almost died, and we were lucky to still have her with us.

Here’s the short version. My mother is a very strong, fit and stoic woman. She doesn’t complain much. So when she does, you know it very deep and very real.

A few days before December 8th, she complained of cramps. She and her husband when to the clinic in their small town. They poked and prodded a wee bit, then sent her home with Tylenol 3s and a pat on the back. The T3s didn’t help. The cramps worsened. Back to the clinic. Back home with the instruction to wait it out. The the pain got so severe that they headed for the hospital, an hours drive away. At the hospital they did a CAT scan and they determined she had an bowel obstruction. Twelve hours later (yes, it actually took that long) she was under the knife and they removed three feet of dead bowel tissue.

They figure (meaning, they are guessing) that this dead bowel tissue was a slow cellular deterioration that might have began as early as when mom got her tubes tied about four decades ago. The surgeon remarked that had they not removed it when they did, my mom would have died.

Two days later, now out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), mom’s biggest physical achievement is to walk past two doorways without dropping. And her highest item on her list of things to do is pass gas.

On any given day, some experts estimate that anywhere from 10-25% of a doctors diagnosis is accurate; the rest is guesswork. [1] I’ve heard it said that your family physician is guessing about 50% of the time when she or he has to diagnose a patient. I’m now starting to think that that is a very kind and generous estimate. Given the advancement of science and technology, these claims are astounding. And, sadly, they also appear to be true.

Anyway, this post is not meant to be a diatribe on the abysmal state of current medical practices. (That’s just a pleasant aside.)

Really, what I’d like to point out is how my mother’s breathtakingly close flirtation with death has caused me to notice something.

The observation, in a nutshell is this: If I were to freeze-frame this moment in time, upon examination I’d have to say that it’s pretty good all things considered. That’s an assessment based not in what this moment contains (objects, status, achievements, financial acquisitions, wealth and so on) but rather based on what has not yet been taken away from me. My mother is still alive. My daughter. My still-smoking-one-pack-a-day brother. My other brother who teaches overseas and has first hand accounts of tsunamis and floods that have killed thousands. I still have a roof over my head. I’m not hungry or thirsty. I have no chronic pain. My muscles all work. I can still breathe.

If I move beyond the moment, if I contemplate what tomorrow might bring, the pain of living returns. Imminently looming financial destruction. Marital disintegration. Neighborly discontentment (gossip, rumors, higher-order catty exclusions, trickling down to our daughters). Women not reading my book. Women reading my book and hating me for it. The fear of dying obsolete without impacting anyone else’s life, without making a significance difference when I know that I have it within me to do just that. Personal and professional rejection (inevitable when you’re marketing anything; and more hurtful when that something you are marketing is your own sweet self).

And beyond tomorrow’s truly insignificant and topical fears (those I just listed) lie the deeper ones that touch the very core of our being. For it is inevitable that my parents will die,  that some of my siblings will pass before I can make the grand exodus myself. And in the news are constant reminders that there are times that our children die before we do. A greater pain I cannot imagine. I don’t know how parents survive such a sadness.

Life is the great gift, and the knowledge that it will end in an unannounced death is the great tragedy.

My mother did not will death upon herself. Louise Hay would solomly state (without even cracking a smile) that mom has a fear of letting go. That’s what  Hay would quack. Her diagnosis would simply be a the affirmation, “I freely and easily release the old and joyously welcome the new.” Mmm. Let’s see. A fear of letting go. Of life. Yep, I think we all do. And, no, contrary to the stupidity of some LOA advocates, we are not eternal beings; neither she nor I will live forever[2]. Two conflicting truths exist simultaneously. This moment is all that we have; and this too shall pass.

When someone tries to sell you happiness-dressed-in-green (millionaire status), packages it in promised ease, sells it as your inherent universal birthright, and then ultimately charges you thousands upon thousands of dollars, give your head a shake. Jump aside. Fast. For the lights you see are not the divining graces awaiting your long overdue arrival at the end of some dark tunnel. It’s a freakin Mac truck baby, barreling towards you at full speed.

Don’t freeze in the headline. But do freeze just this moment. Look at what you have. Look at it in terms of the big sadnesses that have not yet struck you. This helps you see what you have. And in that, you might be able to say that in this moment, I am actually happy.

Most of the time, though, we miss it.

You don’t need a guru to wake you to it. Save your money. Put it back in your pockets. All you need to do is notice this very moment. And then stop. That’s all. That’s the real secret.

NOTES

[1] http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_22/b3986001.htm. Surgeon Dr. David Eddy  states that “The problem is that we don’t know what we are doing.” The article goes on to say that “[a] great many doctors and health-care quality experts have come to endorse Eddy’s critique. And while there has been progress in recent years, most of these physicians say the portion of medicine that has been proven effective is still outrageously low — in the range of 20% to 25%.” Dr. Eddy is calling for a new medical model, one  that is evidence based. Evidence-based “is a term he coined in the early 1980s, and it has since become a rallying cry among medical reformers. The goal of this movement is to pierce the fog that envelops the practice of medicine — a state of ignorance for which doctors cannot really be blamed. “The limitation is the human mind,” Eddy says. Without extensive information on the outcomes of treatments, it’s fiendishly difficult to know the best approach for care.”

[2] one friend of mine actually believes he can pre-determine the date of his own death. He’s picked a number, and he’s adamantly going with it. What the hell, I say. If you believe you can pick a date, then why not choose never?? Our blessing, our one true blessing is life itself; our curse, our one true curse, is knowing that it’s temporal. It’s this curse which continues to sow it’s misery and sorrow throughout mankind in the bitter-sweet disguise of faith aka religion. Don’t get me started.

Violence against [name-your-cause, mine is women] happens because there is a cluster of so-called “thinkers” out there who believe that [women] are inferior, objects to be owned and controlled.

According to the extremist Law of Attraction advocate, a woman gets raped because there is something innately within her that desires to get raped.

Some might soften the blow a little, and say (as they do about violent acts against children) that the thoughts that the child/woman was emanating to the universe was of smaller significance than that of the perp. (Other’s might blame it on the mother’s inability to protect the child because her thoughts are all wrong.)

When the h#ll did we get so f*cked up with our thinking??

As a feminist years back, I jumped on the bandwagaon that made violence against [women] a woman’s issue. We’d build our little victim recovery centres and pat each other’s hands and say there there dear, it’s all over now but tell me again about your pain. You need to let it go, little sister.

As a feminist today, I am jumping on a different bandwagon that is making violence against women a man’s issue. No more hand-holding, just a straight-up acknowledgement that, yes, you’ve been physically assaulted, but honey, you will heal; the person who’s psychologically bent is the frigger who did this to you. Now there’s one soul who seriously and immediately needs a good therapist.

Interestingly, I’m not alone. There are other groups out there who advocate it. Other men’s groups. Watch Tony Porter, a speaker at a TED-Women event. Here what “vibes” this guy is putting out into the universe.

Now, here’s the interesting question (or more accurately series of questions) that I’ll put out there to the LOA extremists who dare to read this blog (and other’s like it): If we can agree that the bulk of all men are not rapists (even though the bulk of all women experience sexual interruption), why is it that rape still happens in epidemic proportions? Whose thoughts are manifesting it? Are the women manifesting it? Or are womanly vibes not “strong” enough for the universe to register, and it’s actually the men’s thinking that brings it about? Can we say that when rape is used as a very specific war tactic (as it was in Bosnia), that when rape is conceived by men as a strategy, that the women have caused it to happen specifically to them? to her? to that one?

If there are men out there like Tony Porter who advocate that men step up to the thinking part of their brain, and women like me out there who subscribe to the belief that violence is a man’s issue (not a woman’s), why in the hell aren’t our thoughts significant enough to change the way things are?