There are no 10 easy steps to rising up from the ashes of Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating’s 1992 ‘recession we had to have’.
Which is when my partner, Victor Pleshev, the architect who designed the Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover for his mother. And me. Lost everything.
Two businesses. Victor’s successful architectural practice. And my market research consultancy. Plus 16 loyal staff.
With all the hard work we had put into both those businesses in the preceding 12 years, we were on our way to creating real wealth.
But it was not to be.
The building industry crash that decimated us was the beginning of the domino effect that brought Australia to its knees.
To pay off debt. Rather than declare bankruptcy.
We sold our home of 22 years for a fraction of what it was worth the year before. Many of our personal possessions were fodder for garage sales. And there was no longer a market for Victor’s treasured vintage S Type Jaguar. Which he was restoring. We almost had to pay someone to buy it!
The people we couldn’t pay immediately, weren’t left in the lurch. We entered into schemes of arrangement to pay them all back. Which we did. It was a matter of honour to us that we keep our word regarding our debts.
Regardless of circumstances, there are alway choices.
Do we pull our heads in? Like turtles. And pretend this didn’t happen? Just hide from reality?
Or do we confront the obvious?
If we don’t get on with our life. We don’t move forward.
I have prior experience with this issue.
In 1980. I was a pedestrian. Who was crushed between two cars. In Pyrmont. An inner city suburb of Sydney.
As I was leaving my car. Which I had just parallel parked in front of McWilliams Wines. And doing what we all do. Walking between my car. And the car behind me. To get onto the sidewalk.
A stolen car. Being chased by the police. Lost control. And. At full speed. Crashed into the car I was walking in front of. Crushing me between that car. And my car.
On a scale of 0 to 10. This accident was a 10.
According to the medical staff at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s orthopedic ward. Where the paramedics dropped me off. 20% of victims of that type of accident are killed. And 80% lose at least one limb.
That accident left me with two severely crushed legs. One which came within a cat’s whisker of being amputated.
I defied the odds.
I spent more weeks in hospital than I care to remember. Most of it in heavy weight traction to keep the multitude of splintered bones straight. I had 9 operations on my right leg to save it. I started to look forward to the pre-op sedative. Happy hour. As I used to call it.
As my leg stubbornly refused to heal, my orthopedic surgeon called in the heavy artillery. Only a bone graft could save it.
It couldn’t be pinned. I have gravel in that leg from Pyrmont Bridge Road. That couldn’t be removed. A souvenir. Metal and gravel are a toxic combination when they meet with bodily fluids.
With my weakened right leg now shorter than my left leg, I also spent 3 years in physiotherapy. Strengthening my leg. And learning to walk again. Without a limp.
My objective was to be able to wear my beloved stilettoes again. Without anyone knowing my legs were no longer a perfect 10.
When I left hospital. My solicitor made me aware of my options regarding my court case.
Option 1. I can let the accident take over my life. Do nothing to get better. Spend several years wallowing in self pity. And probably win a compensation claim of – at that time – 37 years ago – about $350K.
Option 2. I can get on with my life. Spend hours. Weeks. Months. Years. In physiotherapy. Get better. Learn to walk again. Be productive. Live a fulfilling life. And be awarded a much smaller compensation claim. Most of it just to cover my hospital and physiotherapy expenses.
But. I come out the other end with – a life worth living.
I knew my answer.
But I have to hark back to my university days for you to understand why I chose option 2.
In my sophomore year at uni in my mother country, the USA. There was a Halloween Party on campus.
My room mate and I decided to go as the Indian squaw Pocahontas. And her papoose. Her child.
Janie was Pocahontas. And I was the papoose.
The rationale behind the choice?
It was an easy costume to replicate for two uni students who were poverty stricken. With no extra $$$$ to splash out on non essentials. We both had a feather we could attach to a head band. And something long and baggy to wear.
We arrived at the party playing the part. Native Americans are always depicted as dour. And lacking humour.
After spending a couple of hours being super gloomy. No words. No smiles. Just being glum. We left the party. And realised, when we got back to our dorm, how depressed we both were from the hangover of such severe sombreness.
There wasn’t a single, happy, endorphin rattling around in our brains.
We were not only in a state of self induced moroseness. But I remember feeling stripped of all hope.
Which was not part of either of our personalities. We were both very sunny, optimistic gals.
While in that state, I suddenly could understand why some people would choose to jump off the top of a building.That experience has coloured my life ever since.
Life is not worth living if I’m not vibrant. Embracing all that life has to offer.
So when the crunch came with losing everything in that 1992 recession. Our decision was a simple solution.
Confront reality. Start anew. And get on with making something of ourselves by reinventing who we are.
Today. I am astounded at the results of picking ourselves up. And dusting ourselves off.
We exchanged the city lights. For a rural life.
We were poor as church mice. And had to relocate to a place where we could afford to live.
We now live and work from our a beautiful 54 hectare remote rural property. In the picturesque hill country of the Central Tablelands of NSW. Between historic Bathurst. And the rolling vineyards of Mudgee.
We transformed an over cleared, over grazed sheep property. Heavily in drought. Into a wildlife sanctuary. Which more than 130 birds visit every year.
The bare paddock that our farmhouse sat in the middle of, is now a hectare of garden with 110 trees surrounding the house. Hundreds of fragrant roses climb along fences. Kilometres of honeysuckle drape the roofline of our farmhouse. And intermingle with the roses on the fences.
The thousands of fragrant shrubs we planted, including big swathes of lavender, are understory and habitat for small birds.
The ever multiplying Jonquil Erlicheers that bob their fragrant, creamy curly heads in September, let us know spring is here. At last.
And the beautiful oaks and ashes and maples and tortured willows and sorbus and gleditsias and poplars. Which turn the garden into a brilliant kaleidoscope of colours in autumn. Let us know that winter is nigh.
The leaky puddle of water at the bottom of the garden is now a beautiful ornamental dam. Complete with a pier. Bridge. And a ‘Friendship Bench’. For contemplation.
Because of our signature product, the Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover, I’ve become an expert on ironing. I have 23 years experience. Talking to tens of thousands of men and women all over the world about their ironing woes.
Victor and I travelled 60,000km per year. For 14 years. Exhibiting at events. Anywhere we could set up a microphone. And spruik. To talk to men and women about . . . what else? . . .ironing. How they do it. Why they iron. How did they learn to iron? Do they have a separate room?
I’ve been interviewed in Australia. America. The UK. And Europe. On radio. Featured on TV. And been a guest on online media podcasts and radio programmes.
Bernadette Jiwa. The best selling international author of business books. Included my story in her new book ‘Hunch’. I’m the ‘Ironing Whisperer’ on page 73.
As well. My company. And its products. Have been featured in every major publication in Australia.
And. I am an expert at running a worldwide business from our remote rural property. We did what everyone said we couldn’t do. We built a worldwide business from broke. Long before the internet. Before email. Before call waiting. Came to our rural village.
In the process, we conquered the last frontier of living and working remote. We conquered the fear most city people have about living with the tyranny of distance. Driving an hour to buy a litre of milk is no longer a daunting experience. And we’ve never lost a pet on the 80 minute emergency drive to our nearest expert vet. Even when it was a 2AM dash.
Our business is now called ‘The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover And Other Goodies’.
If you have one product people love, they ask for more.
The 7 products Victor has designed are loved and appreciated by more than 400,000 customers. In 30 countries.
The lifestyle Victor and I have carved out for ourselves from a calamitous event is now the envy of our friends. And customers. Around the world.
By choosing simple solutions to solve the difficult problems we faced. We turned our life around. With panache!
Life is full of curveballs. When they land at your feet. What’s your simple solution?
Your thoughts? Email me at the bottom of this post.
Masters Of The Simple Solution
This is our product range. The Fitz Like A Glove™ Ironing Board Cover And Other Goodies. Every product is a simple solution to a difficult problem. ‘Click Here’
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Have a question? Email me at the bottom of this post.
Or phone me, Carol Jones, in rural Australia on 02 63 588 511.
Photos of my rural property are courtesy of me, Carol Jones. They are taken at sunrise every morning. I LOVE sharing my rural life with you. It’s blissful where I live. It’s not for everyone. But my lifestyle is the envy of many of my friends. And customers.
You can see my photos on Instagram.
The Gate To The Side Paddocks. In Early Morning Fog.
A Flock Of Black Cockatoos. Heaven Sent.
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