Love

Currency: Love

Brittney

When Brittney made a wish one night with her new husband Hunter, over a perfectly broken down the middle wishbone, she never could have imagined what would happen next. She talks fondly of their first meeting. “It was love at first sight. We were married two months after we met.” Tucking away their secret wishes in a zip lock baggie in the freezer, those wishes would sit until one fateful day when Brittney learned Hunter had been killed in the line of duty. He was 21 and it was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Finding out they were pregnant a couple months before he left, Brittney miscarried the night before he deployed. “There was no much emptiness. I wasn’t coping well.” She explains. One day her cousin asked her to go for a run with her. Never exercising a day in her life, Brittney got the courage up and reluctantly said yes. That day she put on her running shoes, Brittney sealed in a new fate. By the end of that year, she had worked up to completing a half marathon. “It saved me,” she explains. “Running got me out of the house and allowed me to process my thoughts.”

Another 6 months later Brittney was spending her savings to create a fitness line for women coping with loss or tragedy through fitness. Her tagline? “Turn struggle into strength.” Brittney explains how important it is to her to keep production local and hire veterans to help the cause. And all of her line is proudly Made in America. “I didn’t know anything about the military until I met Hunter. Now it’s my life’s purpose to bring awareness to how much service members do for us. They put everything on the line. And this way, I can continue to honor Hunter’s memory.”

After Hunter’s death, Brittney’s family helped move her stuff out of the house they shared because she couldn’t bare to go back in. “I told my sister to grab the zip lock baggie in the freezer. My wish read, ‘to get pregnant.’ His wish read, ‘to have a baby.’ We figured out the night we conceived and it was that night we made our wishes.” She pauses. “Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we think it will, but it’s still beautiful.”

Gina

Spend ten minutes with Gina and Steven and be reminded of the dedication and joy that being in love brings. She lays a gentle hand on him to check in, he gives her a tender squeeze and a knowing look. Gina is expressive and passionate and Steven more cerebral and simple but somehow the mix seems to fit. They met again at their high school reunion several years ago and have been together ever since. Living in Hawaii and Dubai for a stint, they’ve never been too far from each other. This year was no exception, with one exception. Steven had a stroke and had open-heart surgery.

At 31 years old, Steven didn’t have to be told that a congenital heart defect was back to give him trouble, he felt it. Exhausted but hopeful, Steven endured an immediate heart valve replacement. 12 hours later he was back in surgery after complications. Beginning to heal, 3 months later, Steven suffered a stroke and was back in for surgery. This was not the way he wanted to spend this year. He had snowboarding plans.

“I realized what it might be like to take care of a child,” Gina says, “the adrenaline and the want to stay up all night to see if he’ll be ok.”
“It was hard when he first woke up after 8 hours in surgery. He had a tube down his throat and couldn’t talk to me. He tried signing things into my hand. I stayed with him when everyone wanted me to go home and get some rest. I couldn’t leave. He couldn’t wake up alone.”

Steven was able to recover at home under the care of Gina and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Being slow at work, Gina was able to take as much time off as she needed. “My pocketbook may not have liked the recession, but the extra time it allowed me will forever be cherished and remembered.”

Steven is now almost fully recovered and talking openly about how this has changed his life. “The things I need to do now to stay healthy are things I always should have been doing, eat the right amount of fruits and vegetables, take supplements and exercise. It’s a good reminder to take care of myself.’ Steven is back to work full time finally but suspects he’ll never be able to work the 80 hour work weeks he used to put in. His motivation as a Stanford grad allows him a narrow margin for setbacks. Although chatting with him, I wonder if this was all a blessing in disguise.

www.gypsybit.com

Jenny & Kevin

Hair and make up artist extraordinaire and real estate agent husband had found themselves trying almost a year to get pregnant. Entertaining the idea of adoption, Jenny and Kevin remained unshakeable in their optimism. News of Miles came shortly after and everyone couldn’t wait to meet the little guy who called these two strong, dedicated and loving people his parents.

Recent homeowners, Jenny and Kevin prepared the nursery; friends and family abound to help in any way. Then the recession hit. Being a freelance household both soon to be parents felt the crunch. First the housing market fell and Kevin found himself doing whatever possible to keep his little family safe.

“You do whatever you have to do to make things happen and keep the mortgage paid. I took a second job at the cable company. I knock on doors and sell. And you know, that might sound horrible to some, but the experience has actually taught me a lot about customer service and going the extra mile to get people what they need.” says Kevin. He knows for certain he has learned skills during this time that will help him in his real estate business in the future.

As the months passed Jenny kept the news of her little growing bundle a secret to clients, afraid they would stop calling if they knew she was expecting. Jenny worked into her last month. “It was noticeably a slower year. I’d say at least 20% slower but I have existing clients who call me back year after year and I’m grateful for that. “ Jenny says.

When asked how the recession has affected her, Miles lets out a giggle, letting mom know he’s there. She laughs and turns to him. “Work may be slower but we have more time to be with Miles.” There is a joy in her eyes unmatched by any ‘job.’ Kevin has even had more time to go back to school to get his masters degree. Without the extra time he has had, this would not have been possible. In the end, it seems a silver lining can be found from such challenging times.

Sabrina

An agency sourcing creative talent was lucky enough to snare Sabrina. Unbelievably connected to people in a genuine and knowing way, Sabrina forged headstrong into her resources and connected fortune 500 companies with their new star employees. With a smile and a killer Rolodex, Sabrina fought her personal ambitions to freelance and gave her all to this new budding company. Feeling fulfilled, but slightly overworked, the recession hit. There were layoffs. Sabrina stayed, working all the more diligently to hit numbers and impress management but it took it’s toll.

Motivated to clear her head of “work” distractions, Sabrina sought salvation in a long time hobby and love, horse back riding. “My parents bought me my first pony at age four. I grew up around horses. I would spend all day in the barn brushing them and talking to them,” says Sabrina. “But it’s been awhile since I’ve ridden. I really miss it.” Taking action to find a stable close to home, she dedicated herself to riding once a week. The beauty and quietness is obvious in the small and slow actions of preparing a horse for riding. The grooming, the cleaning of hoofs, the tightening of the saddle-it is in the small, basic things that one finds a restart button being pressed, a remembrance of the simple and basic joys in life.

After much reflection and riding time with Henry, Sabrina decided to resign from her stressful staffing position and pursue her own dreams of being freelance. She endured friends and colleagues thinking she was crazy but took the leap to create her own PR company called, ‘Defiant.’ “I think good things come to those who choose to be bold and make hard choices,” says Sabrina. “It was scary to quit my salaried job, but it was the right thing to do for my well being. I couldn’t stay another day being unhappy where I worked every day. Now I wake up, visit Henry and get to work at my laptop. I’m enjoying the new challenge. I think it’s important to try new things and embrace unfamiliar situations. It’s how we grow and hopefully how we find ultimate fulfillment in our lives.”

www.defiantpr.com

About the currency project

The Currency Project challenges us all to see the beauty through the pain, the positive that can come from a negative and the heartbreak that can turn into a new beginning. Life is uncertain but our faith, hope and love can never be taken from us. Our true currency in life is what we make it.