stock exchange

a couple weeks  before lincoln was born matt and i had chinese food and his fortune cookie said this: “don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family.”  at the time we thought it was sweet and had a nice sentiment to it.  i remember i stuck it in my wallet (i tend to save fortunes, at least ones i like).

a couple weeks later lincoln was born.  september 17, 2008.  the day before he was born, the markets crashed.  our generation’s version of the great depression.  i remember sitting in the hospital with my brand new first born son watching on the news of the financial world falling apart.  it was slightly surreal, feeling such hope and joy in a new life while watching lives crumbling before us.

we started feeling the repercussions of the crash little by little.  when i went back to work after my maternity leave i could see the stress on my boss’s face.  suddenly high salaried people became a burden (i was one of them) not a bonus to the company.  a couple months later we found out we had to move from our new little home because the landlord was being foreclosed on.  promontions weren’t handed out so quickly.  my mom and i started the beginnings of opening a business (ever so hopeful we are! who else but a chemo patient and a pregnant person start a company during a recession?!  gotta love our faith…) and we discovered an upside to the recession, retail rents were CHEAP!

as the months and years went on, the effects of the recession lingered.  yet often i thought back to the fortune in my wallet.  “don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”  the store was taking off, paying the bills.  money was tight, but lights were still on (barely it seemed some months).  people weren’t shopping like they used to, but it kind of made each purchase that more special.  i knew if someone was buying something, it was very very important to them.  i liked being a part of that.  i liked the support that the community gave, even when they probably couldn’t afford to.  people began to pay for what was important to them.  priorites were reshaped.  like a natural disaster the recession had swept aside all the debris and left only deep rooted structures.  what was left was what could never be broken, forgotten, sold, or lost.

“don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”

we had two more children.  call us crazy.  call us hopeful.  my salary was cut in half.  our expenses tripled.  my savings was no longer my ‘fun account’ but was now my lifeline.  a lifeline that only stretched so far.  i learned that hope does not live in a bank account.  foundation isn’t built on paychecks.  we restructured our priorites.  looking around, past the debris, at the remaining structures i saw this:  a small bank account but a big happy family.  a struggling store, but a store that serves a loyal community and saves lives around the world.  i saw a couple that had chosen correctly in their investment.  three investments that may not pay for our retirement, but will make that retirement worth living.  (notice i said ‘may not’, we’ve all seen lincoln throw that football….)

today while i was fishing out nickels to pay the meter i found that old torn fortune in my wallet. not even three years old it looked ancient.  it seemed so foreboding.  thinking back to the night we first read it i can’t imagine if someone had told us what the next three years were going to hold.  three babies.  career changes.  sickness of a mother.  death of a father.  constant battles, and even more victories.

“don’t worry about the stock market.  invest in family”

p.s.  my favorite part is how it says “don’t worry” about the stock market.  not “don’t invest in”.  but just to not worry about it.  there’s only so much it can do, only so much it controls.  invest in family.

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