"Life is full of setbacks"

“Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.” – lululemon manifesto

Story of our lives for the past 2 years. This thought has been on my heart to share, but I have been embarrassed to be open about our current situation. I kept thinking “this is going to be an awesome story to tell when we make it….” but I realize that is selfish, I want to honestly share what we are going through in hopes that it will help you if you are going through some setbacks of your own. So here it goes….

In 2008 Jere and I got married and were excited to start our life. Problem was we moved out of the college home we owned in order to rent it for the semester and were living with my father. As awesome as it was to not have any financial responsibilities and hanging out with Dad, we were determined to get to Charlotte, NC. Months went on of Job searching, no luck. I turned down 2 very high paying salary jobs that were in Ohio, because we wanted to get out of Ohio that bad.  We were working for family doing small remodel jobs for money.  In January we settled for an insurance job in SC, with built in living expenses and a connection for Jere to start working construction in Georgia. We were excited, moving out of parents house, check, moving out of Ohio, check, grown up jobs check. What could possibly go wrong?

Packed up our son and we were gone January 4th 2009

Lake Carolina Condo/Work Live Unit. I was working the Nationwide office below

Setback #1 – A month into our exciting new life we were both miserable. At this point we had already signed up for a new car payment and spent way over our budget to buy expensive furniture to match our fancy new condo against everyone’s advice and were quickly accumulating debt. Jere was commuting 4 hours to work and we never saw each other.

Our new home in SC

Bounce Back: We decided it was time for change. Jere found a new job at Lowes for a quarter of what he was making and started a handyman/remodel business. I started perusing health and wellness, and started boot camps in my community before and after work. Jere hooked up with a guy at Lowes that owned a lot of rental properties, he had lots of work to keep Jere busy. Jere quit Lowes, we drained our savings for our newest money maker…..a flip house! The plan flip it, sell it, move on. I was building my business to get out of insurance. Found an amazing company that could provide the income we needed to supplement the boot camps, AdvoCare! Met some amazing people that believed in our dreams. And found GOD and our faith!  We were excited! Back on track….

First AdvoCare Success School June 2009, we saw the big picture we knew this was our calling

Setback #2 – The condo is for sale, the house is a dump and we are in over our heads. A month after buying our flip house we soon discovered that we were going to doing a lot more work on the house than we planned. Our wellness business was not doing as well as we had thought and we had already started an action plan to shut down the insurance office. The building was up for sale hours were cut and we poured all of our energy into our wellness business. Working on the house only on the weekends. I started applying for gym jobs and anything else in the wellness industry to keep our heads above water until our business was enough. . Jere was still working on all the rental properties. We had an equity line on the house our estimation for repairs….$15,000 our equity line was only approved for $19,000 even though we were pre-approved for $40,000. We were in over our head, had no liquid cash and a house that was half gutted.

The dinning room of our flip house August 2009

Bounce Back: Bootstrapping, that’s what they call it when you finance your own business with all personal assets. We used every penny we made to stock products, pay for advertising, network and buy equipment for personal training/ boot camps. I built up 10 clients and 13 AdvoCare distributors…we were growing. We met our first serious business builder, Shelly. She became our best friend. We had a plan, keep building the wellness business, buy the building we were living in and convert the office into a personal training studio, finish the flip house. And did I mention Jere lost 68lbs using AdvoCare. People wanted to know what we were doing. Big things were happening.  There was no plan B…failure was not an option.

First community wellness program with new AdvoCare team
Setback #3 –  Jere’s rental guy stopped paying, the insurance office is closed, winter hit and half of your client base left, we have to pay another mortgage and your equity line is gone. We would finance jobs for the guy that Jere worked for, basically he would do the job and the guy would pay him weekly until he was paid up. He slowly stopped paying and in January he completely stopped all communication. Taking full responsibility of the stepping down from the insurance job we lost about $3,000 a month in income plus around $4,000 that Jere was making. Our wellness business was only bringing in around $2,000a month and had all our cash invested in our flip house. Our college house that had renters was now vacant and on the market, we were paying the mortgage.  Still applying for jobs I was desperate to find something related to health and wellness.
What was left of our boot camps when winter hit…winter warriors.
Semi Bounce Back:  Dads are the best!  Dad was willing to loan us the money we needed to finish the house. We knew we could get it done if we focused. We added a new advisor to our AdvoCare team and we were consistently hitting our pay period goals. Moving forward we were back to work on the house. We would both find jobs in SC and would move into our flip house until we had our finances back together. We had to shut down the boot camp part of our wellness business because we were moving 40mins to the other side of town, but we were able to keep our $1,000 monthly residual income that AdvoCare provided. 
Painting party at the flip house, thankful for awesome friends that came out to help
Setback #4: We can’t pay our cars, we can’t pay our credit cards and the condo is rented. We had 30 days to get our house into livable conditions. We still had no luck in the job search and all of our payments were past due. We were in trouble.  
Moving day – last photo at the condo
Bounce back: Finally got our first homeowner credit from the government, 8 months late. Better late than never! $4,000 could last us a long time if we were smart. I was in the final round of interviews for 2 jobs at the YMCA and EarthFare, both in the wellness industry. We moved into the flip house without a kitchen or hot water. We pray a lot. 
The Kitchen of the flip house when we moved in
Setback #5: The jobs fell through, we have $600 left and there’s a hole in the roof. I didn’t get either job. Our $4,000 went fast to paying past due bills. And we discovered that the leaking roof on the back of the house needed to be ripped off and redone. 
Roof repair that set us back a month and a whole lot of cash
Bound Back: We talked about the possibility of moving to Orlando to be closer to our AdvoCare family, they offered me jobs as a personal trainer at their gyms. I stumbled upon a company called lululemon, when I read the manifesto it gave me goosebumps as it sounded like I wrote it. From that moment I knew I was going to work there. There was a store in Orlando and they were hiring. I applied. Jere got a job working with another AdvoFam setting up race events. Obviously we were moving. I used our last $200 to go to to the interview at lululemon. I got the Job. We had a move date and another great plan, get the house done, close this chapter, start new. 
Last week at the flip house
Setback #6: Looks like you’re moving alone. We couldn’t pull off getting the house completely done by the time I had to move to start work at lululemon. So I packed up my ford with clothes, an air mattress and Sammy and we moved alone without Jere. He stayed back to finish the house.
Sam and I lived in an empty apartment on an air mattress for a month
Bounce Back: 1 month of living in an empty apartment and Jere finally made it. We were ready to start over. Our flip house was on the market and priced to sell, we both had jobs that we loved and we were back. We were barley making enough money to survive but we were  surviving. We found an awesome church in FL that fuels our passion to keep pursuing the dreams that God put in our hearts.  Just keep swimming. 
Jere’s Birthday our first date in FL at the Orlando Brewery
Setback #7: Jere’s work was only on the weekends, mine was a very very long commute, we live in the ghetto and the house is not getting any interest from buyers. Creditors call us non-stop. We have no more options to borrow, no more credit, no more patience, no more money, no luck on any other jobs for Jere, no more energy…….
Bounce back: WE SOLD THE HOUSE for our asking price! 

Setback #8: The closing date got pushed back 2 weeks, then a month. 

Bounce back: We find comfort in the uncomfortable. We learn that we don’t need much to be happy. We learn to be thankful for what we do have. And we learn to ask for help when we need it. Our parents bail us out 2 weeks before we lose a car and/or get kicked out of our apartment…apparently 3 days past due gets you an eviction notice in FL. We win our court case in SC against the guy that owed Jere money but only for $660 of the $3,000 and we had to call of work and make the trip to SC for the trial. Probably just broke even, but it was a chapter we could close. We pay for groceries by selling things at the pawn shop. Its actually freeing. All the things that we had to have; name brand clothes, diamonds, snowboards, stereo equipment….. is all just stuff. It was such an amazing experience to get rid of them. It was like a cleanse for our souls. We found out how strong we were as a couple, how the only thing that we truly needed was each other. We cried a lot, we prayed a lot and we counted on each other a lot.

Setback #9: The closing is pushed back again.

Bounce Back: The house sells and $94,000 is transferred into our bank account for real!! It almost feels fake. We paid $38,000 for the house, we put in $40,000, in total we made $16,000. Not really what we had hoped for but we learned a lot. The more I think about it the more I am amazed we actually did it. We made something beautiful from something that was broken and trashed.
Kitchen Before
Kitchen After
And guess what, we have a new plan and new goals….. move back to Ohio, start a family, keep building our AdvoCare business, use the income that AdvoCare provides to open a crossfit gym, start a clothing line for crossfitters (new post coming on that soon).  Will it be perfect, probably not. Big dreams = big setbacks and by now we are experts at handling them.
The point is….Life is full of setbacks. Everything will never be perfect for long. Every time you think you have it figured out life throws you a curve ball and you’re back on the ground. But here’s the important lesson that this 2 year journey has taught us….Live it up and enjoy every second of your life. Setbacks and temporary defeat are not bad things. If you can embrace every second, whether you are broke or rich, whether you get that job or not, whether you sell your house or not, if you can appreciate the moment and be grateful for the life you have now you have the secret. I have wasted so much time being upset over setbacks in the past two years that I missed out on the opportunity to live. I will never get those moments back, they are gone. It will never happen again. I needed to go on that journey to learn that lesson. I hope that you can learn from our experience so you don’t miss any of your life. Be happy. Be grateful. Love every second of your life because this moment right now is all you have. 

 -Shanna Tokarsky ’10

2 Comments Add yours

  1. This took guts to write this and as always you unselfishly share your life to inspire. You constantly amaze me. I thank God for placing you in our lives. This is something I needed precisely today when I was defeated by setbacks. Thank you.


  2. TrueBalance says:

    Thank you Alison! You have been a blessing in our lives as well. : )


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