Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Miss My Truck...Built Tough

I was trying to keep up with the pack, looking for signs of success.  I was in the middle of a marriage, raising kids, and navigating a career.  One of those signs included trading up my ride for the ultimate in luxury.

At one time, I thought a BMW would be the nod I needed to ring the bell of a successful life and career.  But when it came right down to it, as I walked into my local Ford dealership, it was love at first sight…a 2013 Ford F150, Platinum edition.  It was parked on the showroom floor, with oversized rims, black leather interior, and a really cool handle for the tail gate for easy access into the bed of the truck (future transport of newly discovered antique treasures, auctions, and yard sales).

The tail gate, trimmed in aluminum and red, reminded me of my Pop’s (grandfather’s) pick-up that I used to ride in the back of as a child, bumping over hills and pastures of the farm, together with my brothers and cousins, clinging for dear life and feeling like it was the greatest thrill ride of all time.

When I got my license, I was entrusted with his red Scottsdale every so often, driving it to school a few miles down the road.  Now, before you go correcting me on vehicle makes/models, I know a Scottsdale was a Chevy model.  I only mention in reference to the similarity to the retro tailgate, and why I was drawn to this truck.

For about two years, my short commute downtown became another thrill ride (full disclosure, this was the third pick-up truck and second F150 I’d owned in my adult life).  From the heated and cooled leather seats to the sunroof (I know, right?), I was living large!  A spray in bed liner made it slightly acceptable to use for transport, but I gotta be honest…every time someone asked me to help move or haul something, I cringed inside and usually found a way out (sorry to any friends and family reading and know what I’m talking about...and sorry to friends, who have trucks and I am now the offender!). 

I would drive for hours with no destination in mind, took two family vacations in the comfort of my F150, and so many other great memories.  My favorite song, “Red Dirt Road” by Brooks and Dunn, quickly became my theme song every time I rolled out of the driveway on a sunny day.

As that “red dirt road” continued, I found myself at a crossroads, changing my GPS and direction…going from a wife and mother to a single mom in a matter of months.

The very first thing I noticed was that where I had actually arrived in life, was with a mound of debt, and two hefty car payments.  It was a really good reminder and reset for me personally.  That race I’d been running to keep up with everyone else?  Well, turns out I was on the wrong track.

My need to compete was transformed into a need to survive and provide (something I’d known well in my 20’s, scraping by to finish my college degree).  But I’d forgotten all my early life lessons, opting instead for 18 months same as cash for everything!  And my rationale for it all?  I was already so far in debt, one more payment wouldn’t make a difference…might as well live a little.

My new normal left me exceeding all those no interest deadlines, with negative equity in my house, and a general sense of uneasiness, no longer treading water…I was sinking fast.

My budget spreadsheet became a joke, and I began taking concrete steps (for more on this, see to turn it all around.  This is not a hard luck story by any means.  My reset left me still living in my own home, caring for my kids, with a great job and reliable transportation.  I know I dodged a bullet so to speak, after having seen family and friends lose their homes when the housing market crashed around 2008.  And coming up on the anniversary of my first full year on my own, it’s been tough…but it gets better every day. 

And my path to getting better every day involved taking inventory of all my status symbols taking up space in my closet, home, and garage.  I knew my F150 was the biggest target…a luxury with a hefty monthly payment, and not the best gas mileage.  It was the first to go.  I went back to the Ford dealership where I’d literally driven my truck off the showroom floor, and drove away in a new, economical and comfortable, Ford Fusion, 4-door sedan (with a sun roof). 

Ford faced challenges as well, along with the rest of the car industry around the same time as the housing crisis.  Aside from being the most comfortable ride of any truck I’ve ever driven, I chose Ford because like me, they didn’t take the easy way out…they were the only car manufacturer, who didn’t take a bail out from the government.  When your name and reputation is all you have, that means a lot.  Staying true to your roots, not quitting when the going gets tough…yeah, like Ford, most of us are “built tough.”  And yes, I miss my truck, but I love my life.

If you want to read more about my journey, check out my blog at .  It’s been my saving grace, helping me to return to a life more focused and with more purpose, recognizing what is really important.

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