The journey to loving myself: Part 3 – My Dark Period.

Please begin with Part 1 (click here) and then Part 2 (click here)

“I think it is time we begin to see other people…”

My first reaction was, “Do we have to do this now… when my business is collapsing beneath my feet?” I cannot remember if I said this out loud or just in my head, but I said it nonetheless. The time was in the early months of 2008, soon after the big crash of the US economy.

Even though the 14.5 year relationship that was ending was probably about 4.5 years past its expiration date, it was the only thing that was consistent in my life. Less than three years prior I was voted out of the company I had created and had built to a moderate success. I walked away from that company in 2005 with my name, my reputation, all of the knowledge that I gained from the experience, my peace of mind and my head held high. In 2005 I put together a new company and started all over from scratch. Needless to say, these were tumultuous years, but nothing like what I was about to experience beginning in those early months of 2008. The ground beneath my feet was shifting so quickly I am not sure that I was actually standing; and it didn’t stop shifting for another four years.

My friends have called this my Dark Period. Those four years were the most difficult of my entire life. Though, I am now very thankful for those years, because if things hadn’t happened as they did I would not have found the peace and true happiness that I am now experiencing. For me, it was all worth it.

In January of 2008 as the economy collapsed, so followed my business. Somehow, without any funding, I kept the company afloat with sheer determination and the will to not give up. I remember saying, “They will have to pry this company out of my dead bleeding hands…” and they nearly did.

By mid 2008, when it was obvious that we were not recovering from the crash, I had to begin laying off my staff one by one until it was just me and one other person. By 2009 we had moved out of our beautiful new offices and into my home office. That one employee I had left, Maggie, ran my office until the end of 2010 and worked several months with neither a paycheck nor a complaint. I had stopped paying myself back in the early months of 2008. From 2009-2010 I made, packed and shipped all of my candles by myself (with occasional part-time help). The warehouse I was forced to use as my production facility had no air-conditioning or proper ventilation. Temperatures inside would reach around 120 with all the wax melters running during the Texas summers. I was often working 6-7 days a week and not taking care of my health. My eating habits turned into (I’m now horrified to say this) what I could afford on the dollar menu at fast food restaurants. I was killing myself with my work load, the working conditions,  the stress of my mounting debt and my dollar menu diet. I don’t remember having much if any joy in my life…

Since I had stopped paying myself in 2008, I had no money left and no more room on credit cards by early 2010. Some of my greatest fears were coming true. I was so behind on my car payment that I began to park down the block so the repo men wouldn’t find it. I was also several months behind on the house mortgage and received a notice that if I didn’t make a payment that month, they were going to begin the foreclosure process. Adding to the pressure of this, I had been a rescuer of animals for over 15 years at that point and had a house and yard full of animals that depended upon me. They were my family. If I lost the house, there would have been no way for me to keep my family of animals together. I was on the verge of losing EVERYTHING.

By 2011 I was nearly dead; physically, emotionally and spiritually. In order to save the house and keep food for my dogs, I had to sell off many of my personal belongins, including my prized possessions, my Big Boy statues.

IMG_0743

Bye-bye BIG BOYS!

 In 2011 I received some reprieve when I licensed my candle brand to another company. This removed the daily stress of making and shipping candles off my plate, though it still left me with no income. I applied at every job I could think of, though no one seemed to want to hire someone who had been an entrepreneur for the past 20+ years. I literally was starving. Any money I could scrap up went into keeping the roof over my head, my car on the road and food for my animals. I had no spare money for anything.

I learned how to live on $5 a week from a friend. He told me about the real Mexican grocery stores, the ones where all the signs are in Spanish, and how they would always have some sort of (unidentifiable) meat on sale for $0.99 per pound. I would go there and buy $5 worth and live on it for a week. I would cook the hell out of it on my George Foreman Grill to kill anything that could possibly kill me. If I was lucky a friend would give me some barbecue sauce to make it, whatever it was, tolerable.  Yes, I am serious, I was that poor. The only time I saw a vegetable is when Maggie would invite me over to eat.

During this time I was rather lucky that my dogs had relatively good health and did not require much… if they had, I would not have been able to afford taking them to the vet. There were only a couple of events that happened where I had to turn my kitchen into a triage unit and emergency room. I saved one of my special needs puppies life with a chip clip when one of the other dogs ate 3/4’s of her IMG_0825IMG_0972ear off. That is a long

story, but she lived.  

Hippity Hop in the emergency room (my kithen) and her bi-level look afterwards.

I am usually a very social person, and by the spring of 2011 I had been living as a complete hermit for a few years. My dogs had heard all of my jokes and when they began to recite my punchlines back to me, in unison, I knew it was time to get out of the house and become social again – with people. Who would have thought that a visit to The Round Up, a Country & Western Saloon and Dancehall, would change the course of my life forever?

To be continued.

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thanks for reading!

Jimmy

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The journey to loving myself: Part 2

To start from the beginning, and please do if you haven’t: Part 1 (click here)

 

“Fat?! And you thought you were fat? You wanna see fat?! I’ll show you some fat!”

This was the adult me talking to the me in the pictures of when I was younger. I really wasn’t fat at all, maybe a little pudgy in some of the pictures; and by no means was my body the abhorrent image I remember holding in the mind’s eye of my youth.

It wasn’t always like this. Prior to the H-Bomb being dropped upon my psyche that fateful day in the boys department of Muirhead’s Department Store (see part 1), my earliest memories are of being surrounded by girls and woman at church as they are gawking and pulling at me, pinching my cheeks and going on and on about how cute I was and how beautiful my long white/blonde eyelashes were.

Jimmy baby in chair

There was so much adulation heaped upon me that when I was 5 years old I cut off my eyelashes thinking it would make them all stop pawing at me. I was wrong; it only fueled them more. You would think that a young boy growing up with all of that positive attention toward his cuteness would build a strong self image and a strong sense of self worth.

Jimmy 6 yrs

What happens to a child when a great portion of his self worth is built upon being cute? And what happens when he then grows out of his cuteness, and instead is labeled something horrible, such as HUSKY? I’ll tell you; I began to judge my body as imperfect, not cute and not lovable. I began to feel  unworthy of physical love.

Luckily for me, at a young age I knew I possessed the ability to make people laugh, and that gave me enough confidence to carry me through. But as far as my body was concerned, I felt less than; I felt unworthy.

This sense of physical unworthiness drove me to work hard on my body, trying to make it worthy. Through my teens and into young adulthood I would work out sometimes 6-7 days a week…. and I remained unworthy.

Worthy, in my mind’s eye, was an image of physical perfection; an airbrushed image of the perfect body. I remember staring in the mirror, with disgust, thinking, “How could someone love this body?” The sick part to this is, at one point, I was staring at a body in the mirror that looked like a slightly softer (not as cut) version of Mark Wahlberg’s famous Calvin Klein ad.

Because I could not love my body, I was incapable of allowing someone else to love me or my body. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this physical unworthiness that I held onto for so long was the impetus for the destruction of many of my relationships.

The odder piece of this puzzle is that it took me getting completely out of shape, 50+ lbs fatter than my most fit body, in order to begin loving myself and my body.

It was during the darkest period of my entire life, My Dark Period, as my friends would call it (2008-2011), that I purposefully began the journey to loving myself. The events that lead to this dark period created the space into which I began to heal my life. Though this was THE most painful period of my life, and I hope to never experience anything like it again, I am thankful now that it all occurred as it did.

Because I began to love myself and I did not give up on life… my life is now the most peaceful it has ever been. Because I began to love my body… I am healthier than I have been in decades. And because I began to love my body and I did not give up on love… I met the absolute love of my life.

To be continued. Click here for Part 3

In Part 3 I will go into the events that began My Dark Period and I will explain what I did to turn things around for myself.

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The journey to loving myself: Part 1

The dropping of the H-Bomb.

There I stood with my mom, sparkly-eyed and jumping for joy (in my head), in the Boy’s Clothing department at the opulent Muirhead’s Department Store in Dearborn Michigan, looking at rack after groovy rack of the most spectacular clothing I’d ever seen in person. This clothing looked every bit as exciting as I imagined possible from what I had seen on TV shows, such as The Jim Nabors Hour! And they were mine for the choosing! My dream had finally come true!

Because we were the poor preacher’s kids, the Muirhead’s (members of our church when my dad preached in Dearborn, who owned a very high end department store) invited us to come to their store and pick out 2-3 outfits each before school started. I can still smell the richness of this store… it emanated the scent of wealth.

As I stood there, my mind exploded with images of how great I would look as I strutted down the hallway flashing people the peace sign on my way to my classroom on that first day of school. Every head would turn and gasp in awe of my grooviness! As I stood there contemplating which of these amazing outfits I would first try on, my world came to a screeching halt.

“Excuse me ma’am…”

As I’m hearing in the background, nearly drowned out in the midst of the purple haze of my glory,

“… you seem to be in the wrong section…”

The sales woman begins to whisper to my mother in a tone as if she were speaking of a horrible and unthinkable disease.

“What?!” Snap! …goes my head just in time to witness the sales woman pause for a few seconds more to look over her shoulders, in either direction; I guess to see if the coast was clear for what she was about to do.

“Ahem, you see ma’am, this section is for slim boys” as her voice became even softer, and slightly malicious, as if she knew she was about to drop the H-bomb on a little boys heart.

“… your boy is obviously HUSKY.” 

 

As the mushroom cloud was forming above my head, and before I could completely comprehend what exactly just happened, she turned to lead us to the department especially assigned for my “type”.

I can vividly remember taking that long walk of shame to the far corner of the boys department, with my spirit completely crushed,  as I was placed in front of the ugliest rack of beige clothing I have ever seen. The letters of the sign hanging over the one, singularly very sad rack of clothing, designed especially for me, simply read, for the entire world to see, in big fat, chunky bold letters – HUSKY BOYS.

 

My life was over.

 

HUSKY?!?!

obviously!?!?

 

It was official. In that moment, on that day in the late summer of 1971, at the age of 7, I was fatunlovable…and obviously not worthy of groovy clothing.

 

This moment in time forged the basis for my self image that would follow me for the rest of my life through to adulthood. I grew up thinking I was fat… with varying degrees of non-love for my body.

…to be continued.  (Click here for Part 2) 

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Thanks for reading.

Jimmy

a fish named FRED

A fish named Fred

There once was a fish named Fred who lived in the ocean.  Fred would often hide in the darkest underwater cave. When Fred was in that cave he would feel lonely and separate from all the other sea creatures in the ocean. When Fred was out swimming in the ocean he would notice all of the differences between him and all of the other creatures of the sea; by doing so he would feel even more separate… and alone. Even when Fred was in a school, surrounded by a multitude of other fish, he felt separate and alone.

What Fred didn’t realize was, it is impossible for him to be separate from the ocean, it is impossible for Fred to be separate from all the other creatures in the ocean. Fred and all the other creatures are all living in the same fish bowl. Every part of that ocean flows through each of these creatures. There is only a temporary perceived “separation” with all that is in that ocean.

And one day the fish named Fred became lunch for a larger fish named Bill. It was then that the fish named Fred finally realized his oneness with all there is in that ocean. In that moment Fred wished he had figured this out earlier… so he would not have felt all alone for all of those years. He realized that through his perceived separateness, he could learn about his true oneness with all things… though, in this case he was a little too late.

Hello Fred… and wake up before its too late.

good VIBRATIONS

If you have a row of tuning forks, each of different notes, all lined up together and you were to introduce a duplicate of one of these forks and activate it with a thud of your hand – you would soon notice that one of the forks that is lined up will also begin to vibrate and sing…and all of the others will sit still and silent. When you look more closely, you will notice that the one that is now singing along will be of the same note to which your hand activated fork is tuned; they are both tuned to the same frequency.

 

Matching frequencies will find each other and begin to resonate with each other.

 

Everything we can see and not see in this universe is a vibration… waves of energy. Everything from the colors we see with our eyes, the thoughts we think with our mind, the feelings we feel within our hearts, the planet beneath our feet, the sun up in the sky to the stars throughout our universe – all of these are waves of vibratory energy.

 

Our experiences in this life are all based upon vibrations and frequencies; and our thoughts and feelings are the most powerful frequencies we have in creating our life experiences. Your life experience will only be that of which you are vibrating, or in this case thinking and feeling…and can be nothing other.

 

You cannot make the other forks in the line sing along with your frequency if they don’t match with your frequency.

 

If you are not pleased with the life frequency you are experiencing, then change your frequency to that of the life experience you wish to experience. Once you begin to vibrate at a different rate, you will automatically draw to you the matching vibrations, or frequencies…or life experiences. Use the vibrations you have at your disposal – your thoughts and your feelings and begin to think and feel your way to a new frequency.

 

And the wonderful part of all of this – only you can choose which frequency you wish to vibrate. You have your power of choice. Please use it mindfully.

 

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” – Albert Einstein

 

“Imagination is everything; it is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein

MASTER of my PEACE

I have lost THREE businesses, for three different reasons, and through it all I maintained my peace. Even though some would look at these as failures, I look at them as winnings (Yes, seriously). The immense power of peace in your life is priceless. You may have lost everything, or in my case nearly everything, but if you hold onto your peace – you win.

He who lives with the most peace wins!

Candle Company #1 early/mid 1990’s Design Initiative Group/DIG/DigWARE/DigGlo: We grew to moderate success selling to up market stores such as Neiman’s, middle market stores such as Urban Outfitters and mass market stores such as Clair’s Boutiques. We had enough success that the government gave us a Small Business loan for $350,000 to help us expand. Within a year of the loan, I was notified by my business partner that he was taking actions that would close the doors to our candle company. I was overwhelmed with fear. I know what the onset of a deep depression feels like…I couldn’t pull myself from bed for a couple of days. I woke up one morning, stood up and said, “I am turning this into THE BEST THING that could have ever happened FOR ME!” And that I did.  FIVE and ½ weeks later, I was up and running with a new candle company.

Candle Company #2 1998 Er’go Candle: It was with this company that I helped introduce Soy Candles to the nation by marketing nationally to the upper-end gift and spa industries. At the pinnacle of our success, I was featured on CNN during Prime Time, News Night with Aaron Brown in a piece on up-and-coming entrepreneurs, called ON THE RISE. Sitting there that night, watching CNN, at what was the height of my personal success, an event that should have brought me great joy, I knew in my heart it was the beginning of the end. I am a very positive person, but in this case it was my gut talking.

My name and image was becoming important for the brand (think, Colonel Sanders and KFC). Though this exact scenario was my vision for the brand, it wasn’t the image held by a group of my investors, a family who happened to own the majority of the shares. I knew that evening, while watching CNN, that group of investors could not allow this to happen. If my name and image became too interwoven within the brand, they might lose some control. Approximately 3 months later I was voted out of my company.

Several days after I was voted off my Island, I took a week long cruise to clear my head and receive inspiration. And I did exactly that by staying PRESENT on that cruise and not spending ANY time on what had just transpired. I also knew that I didn’t want to create what I was going to do next from my mind, but instead be inspired from my inner spirit – for that reason I did not spend ANY time trying to figure out what I was going to do next. The trick, I had learned over the years of creating from my inner spirit, is to remain PRESENT in the MOMENT during these times of inspiration and let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. On the last day of that cruise, it was as if an information bubble encapsulated me with the full concept for my new company. And yet again,  5 and ½ weeks after I stepped off the cruise ship I was up and running with a new candle company. (I’m not sure why with both businesses it took exactly 5 ½ weeks to get them going, but that is amazingly what happened.)

Candle Company #3 2005 Jimmy Belasco Soy Candles: With this company, in the 5.5 weeks it took to put everything together, we also happened to design packaging that won Best New Product Packaging for our category (candles/fragrance/bath & body) at the NY International Gift Fair. We began to experience some moderate success when, in the early months of 2008, the bottom fell out of the US economy. With the drop in the economy along with some poor timing on decisions made in the months earlier, my company started to bleed money. Over the next few years, I experienced the collapse of my business. After completely exhausting all of my resources (financially, physically, spiritually & emotionally) I licensed my brand to a larger candle company in the beginning of 2011. After a year, I finally decided to call it quits – there was not more peace, love or joy in that business for me.

At the end of each of these businesses, for the most part, I maintained my peace. I usual choose to look at these sorts of tumultuous events as happening FOR ME, for my highest good… instead of TO ME or against me.   In the first two businesses at the very end, if I had spent ANY time regretting the past I would not have been focused enough to start an entirely new company in FIVE and half weeks. In each instance, in just over ONE month, I was able to create a new company, develop a full collection of fragrances, design new packaging, have samples of the new packaging produced, design and print new catalogs and have it all set up in showrooms across the country in the 6 major markets! All of that, plus a whole lot more in FIVE and a HALF WEEKS! It still amazes me that I was able to that, TWICE!

The ONLY way this was possible is because I stayed PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. I had to let go of my past and focus upon my present moment if I wanted to succeed in launching those candle lines. I am not Superman, in fact I am rather normal. What I am good at is remaining focused on the present and letting go of the past. By me letting go, I was able to maintain my peace. Because I was at peace during the process, I was able to accomplish some amazing things in a very short period of time.

Letting go is your key to peace. There is much power in a person who is able to maintain their peace.

He who lives with the most peace wins!

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. (sung to the tune of Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow)

If you look at the case of candle company #2, technically, they walked away with the business I created, but I walked away with my peace. In this case I feel happy because I gained a level of peace in the process that I might not have been able to if the circumstances hadn’t played out as they did. This is why in the middle of a tumultuous situation I try not to judge the events as “bad”… they simply “are what they are“. I see these events as something that will end up for my highest good. It has sometimes been difficult to see things this way when the sh#t is hitting the fan, but I have had enough experience to know and trust that it can be the BEST thing that could happen… as long as I continue to keep that point of view. And trust me, because I know for myself, if you think it is the worst thing that could happen to you, you will also end up being right.

 

This universe is a magical place, whichever direction you choose in life; life is happy or life is sad, Life is good or life is bad… you will ALWAYS be right!

let it go let it go let it go

peace, love, jimmy

He who LIVES with the MOST PEACE wins!

As I ran up to THE PEACE TRAIN, I noticed a door with my name above it! How exciting! This must be where I get on – “PEACE, HERE I COME!”

For some reason, when I attempted to step aboard through the doorway to my PEACE, I was stopped dead in my tracks.  As I stepped back to examine the door more closely, I noticed that the door frame to my peace was exactly the shape of my body… and placed upon that frame was a small sign that read,

NO CARRY-ONS ALLOWED. Please leave your baggage at the door.

 

I have had great successes in life – going in both directions – up and down.

I have had great success in building businesses, finding love, finding peace, finding myself and I have had great success in losing nearly everything – a few times. And through it all, on the rides upward as well as the rides downward, I finally figured out that the secret to maintaining my peace came when I was able to let go. I have now learned to be quite masterful in maintaining my peace – even during some of my darkest moments.

I have come to know that, He who lives with the most peace wins!

Even when people were “taking” things away from me, things of great value to me, they did not take my peace. And when I chose to maintain my peace and let those things go,  I become happier because nothing was “taken” from me.

If you freely give it away, then nothing is actually taken from you. 

You only feel like a victim when you are trying to hold onto what was taken. You can choose to no longer be a victim of the crime if you choose to see yourself as letting it go and you no longer hold onto itit is gone, so let it go free. Even if it was rightfully yours, letting it go gives YOU peace. If you choose to become happier because of letting it go – you win.

“He who lives with the most peace wins!”

As long as you choose to hold onto the loss of things, those things will continue to eat you up… you will not know peace. The key to maintaining your peace is LETTING GO, period. Letting go of things that no longer serve you has a magical effect upon your entire being.

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. (sung to the tune of Let it Snow)

…and you will find your peace.

He who lives with the most peace wins!

let it go let it go let it go