In the seventies all was good. My children began to marry. Business was great. The first grandchild appeared. And then another and another. My wife had disappeared with the family wealth but by doing so had given me an opportunity to experience freedom for the first time in my adult life. Becoming a purposefully sober person, also for the first time in my adult life, made it possible to experience this freedom in a way I would never have guessed was possible.
In the eighties I remarried and lost the freedom, lost the business, retired for a year, had a few drinks to feel better, discovered the futility of such a silly choice and returned to sober living. Got a job for a year. Self confidence returned and I began to rebuild my business. During this decade Asian economies boomed, some western economies faltered and the world began to change.
The nineties began with optimism, previously primitive Asian markets grew, enabling countries like South Korea to become first world powers. In North Korea Kim Jong Il, succeeded his father Kim Il Sung, US markets faltered, my own business soared through the first half of this decade and practically fell apart in 1995. I shut down my stores, moved my business from affluent North Scottsdale into low rent quarters in Phoenix, got an evening job and started over.
This new decade began with a stunned Lee Broom working two jobs, running a business and completely oblivious to the problems that the changing times were bringing to an optimistic America. I lived in an old office, 250 square feet, and questioned nothing. I stayed sober and prayed often.
By the end of this decade I had worked myself out of a short-lived period of poverty, rebuilt my business on credit cards and rediscovered my grandchildren… and their children. The first week of the new Presidential Administration marked the end of Lee Broom Galley and Design; at least for a few months. I moved from a 2000 foot apartment/art gallery into smaller but nicer quarters and began to learn new ways to market my wares and my skills.
There is a story woven thorough all this. It is the story of the citizens of the United States of America. In America there are people who will never have anything. This is primarily because they believe this is so. And they may be right. We must care for them and wherever possible help them to move into group two. And there are those who never give up , who rarely learn from their mistakes and who will never move on. They live this way because this is their reality. These are the people who keep the wheel turning. When a company downsizes those who are released from their careers decide which of these two groups they want to choose as their new reality. Some help reroute success, others know only their loss. During times of difficulty I have belonged to both groups. There are no dollar signs on the measuring stick that I use to measure success. I have managed to stay in the Successful group more often than not because of another asset that I have not mentioned until now. I tithe. I don’t mean financially because I am not much of a Churchy kind of guy. But as a sober person for more than thirty-five years I have had another occupation which takes up a minimum of ten percent of my time; I make myself useful in the community by helping others. I’ve helped drunks get sober, hungry families get fed, taught oldsters how to use a computer, built a children’s theater, read to the blind and driven old ladies to Church and returned to pick them up when the service is over. Sometimes I even stayed for the service and sang when told to do so.
These activities keep me grateful. And I socialize with others who do the same. Within this group of people I call my friends, are those who are suffering and those who are not. I see people who once ran large corporations presently mowing lawns and cleaning kitchens.
I am 74. I am writing several books at a time and intend to publish this year before my eyes give out. I am learning how to take a business which first relied on retail stores, then upon sales calls and eventually on emails, greeting this new century by learning how to do all of the above and tie it all together with the internet, with social networking, a part-time job and a sense of gratitude to a Higher Power I call Love. I could never have comprehended such joy when I was twenty and driving my long, long convertible with a bottle of whiskey in my left hand, the steering wheel in my right and a very bad attitude. The bad attitude returns occasionally. But not for long.
I love my life and I love living it.