The Second Half of Life – 2010
By the beginning of 2010, it was real clear we were still far away from an real recovery for the economy. I was beginning to realize, as much as I didn’t want too, possible salary reductions and layoffs would be required to survive this great recession. Work was really slowing down and very few new opportunities were on the horizon. I was still very thankful for the airport project, and the projects we were completing and the new Science building that we were in the preconstruction stage of the project. We were building this new Science building for Atlanta Metropolitan College. We were awarded this project in 2009. I was really starting to wonder, would things ever turn around and would I finally say I have had enough due to this great recession. People in business and employees around the country knew it was really bad and exhausting.
I was seeing tensions really growing between all stakeholders on a project. Everyone’s fees were so tight that no one could afford for one hiccup on a project. Preconstruction phase of a project is always interesting and with the great recession, it was even more grueling and at times extremely stressful due to pricing and scope creep. Here in a nutshell is how the preconstruction process works. The selected general contractor (and in many cases is called the construction manager at risk) is brought in early by the client to work with the architect and engineers to keep the project in budget. The GC or CM at risk will at a certain percentage of the drawings completion give a Guarantee Maximum price or a GMP to the owner. Now an important fact to know, the GC/CM at risk has a certain budget for labor for estimating during the preconstruction process. This includes usually 2 to 3 estimates and scrubbing of the drawings. The scrubbing of the drawings means reviewing the drawings for constructabilty. The biggest arguments come in the preconstruction phase when the architect does what we call scope creep. That is adding things that add cost to the project that is over the original scope of the project. This causes a problem normally because the architect might feel embarrassed in front of the client or they can’t get the changes they want in the project. This is why a GC/CM at risk must have a top-notch estimating team and project team working together reviewing the drawings. Now in fairness to the architect, a GC/CM at risk can have too low of an estimate to begin with on the project, or didn’t get enough coverage on pricing. During the great recession, every penny counted and if the GC/CM at risk couldn’t reach a GMP, the client can release the GC/CM at risk and only owe them for the preconstruction services cost that was already agreed upon. The tension was tight and is still pretty tight today during the preconstruction phase. The other thing I was noticing in the industry by now, subcontractors and general contractors were going out of business quickly and sometimes in the middle of the job. The risk was greater now than ever before that someone might belly up on you on a project and leave you holding the bag.
Risk management has always been important in construction and now it was on high alert. Every day you heard horror stories of someone going out of business. The pricing for work was still going lower and more contractors were bidding with little or no profit on projects to just try to get cash flow and keep their doors open.
I was really beginning to think about the second half of life. I was now 54 years old and I had friends starting to retire at 55 to 59 years old. I never really thought about retiring, but I was starting to wonder with the great recession if I would have no choice but to start thinking about retirement or what I would do with my second half of life.
I had a once and a lifetime experience in 2010. I was the graduation speaker for a University. I was the morning keynote speaker for Clayton State University graduation. I felt like Rodney Dangerfield at the end of the movie Back to School. Here I am delivering the keynote speech. I was smart about my speech, I started off with” I know you aren’t here to listen to me; you are here to receive, and watch your love ones receive their undergraduate and graduate degrees”. I gave my speech in less than 10 minutes. I often laugh because I am not sure if my speech was that good or that short, because many stood and the applause was loud and with great enthusiasm.
My family was growing up and maturing into fine young adults and my son received his masters degree and finished with a 4.08 GPA in 2010. My wife Karla and I in 2010 were really getting into the empty nesters life and loving every minute of no kids at home. I am a firm believer; just being able to get up in the morning is a good day, regardless of the troubles we face. At least I can still get up and face them and eventually they will pass. My childhood trauma still enjoyed hanging around in my mind trying to get me off-balance. we had a fun family trip to washington DC. It was fun taking a trip with the kids as adults. Karla and I were still taking our roaming trips a few hours from home. We also made our annual trip to a friend’s house in New Hampshire.
You must remember I suffer from PTSD and anxiety from my childhood sexual abuse trauma. I always kind of expect the worst to happen. Because I know that about me, I have to keep pushing myself to believe things will get better in life. It is weird. I am very good at motivating others, because I love seeing others doing well and going for their dreams. I am a happy and thankful person, but there are certain things that trigger that feeling of the other shoe will fall. I know what is from and I was now on a search to rid it from my mind. I am often amazed how something that happened to me over 40 years ago could still have such an impact on my body and my mind. There was something brewing in me that was saying it is time to break free from the past. In the fall of 2010, I finally got the courage to visit a place for children that had been sexually abused. In the past I avoided those places, because I was not ready to face my past in the way of visiting a place for sexually abused kids. I had buried for years my childhood trauma, and only told a few people. I wasn’t sure how I would react by visiting a place for sexually abused kids. Well I had heard for some time about a place called The Georgia Center for Child Advocacy. I knew some people on the board and had a tour setup for my wife and I. The executive director Nancy Chandler met us in the lobby and the tour began. It is a beautiful place, very clean and bright with a great staff. The tour went well until the end. We got to the conference room to talk about the tour. I just lost it, I just started crying. The tears just came out of nowhere; I am like what is going on? After a good cry I regained my composure. My wife just rubbed my back and I realized why I was crying. I was crying for all of the little kids that have to come to a place like this because they have been sexually abused. I cried because I thought of myself. I was that 10-year-old kid again. I cried because I didn’t know what to do to help kids not have to live in the pain and shame of being sexually abused. I knew that day; I would someday find a way to help others that had been sexually abused in life. It was 2010, I decided when the time was right, it would be revealed to me on how to tell my story so I can help others and hopefully free myself from my internal struggle of anxiety and fear of my childhood trauma.
Update: I am attaching the link for the newsletter that introduces me for a training video that will go around the world to help millions of people prevent sexual abuse, and help heal others that have been sexually abused. The group is called Darkness to Light and the training video is called Stewards of the Children. Please check out the link. http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.8633321/k.3C77/Facilitator_Newsletter_April_2013.htm
On April 2, 2013, I spoke at my first public event on the topic of surviving and rebuilding your life after sexual abuse. I am also the keynote speaker later this month for the Georgia Center For Child Advocacy. The breakfast is free and I hope some of you can attend. http://georgiacenterforchildadvocacy.org/be-our-friend/give/change-makers-breakfast-2013
I used to be so afraid people would run from me once they knew I had been sexually abused as a child. I have found sharing my story helps heal so many people and myself. I am slowly not feeling ashamed of sharing that the trauma has caused panic attacks, PTSD, and low self-esteem in me. I am proud I have the courage to say I am a survivor and life can be good and full of love.
I hope you will continue to read and share my blog and always know life is good and to never every give up on yourself. Trust in your faith and allow yourself to forgive those that have hurt you. Don’t let them take your joy. I pray daily and often for courage and strength. God has never let me down.
See you next week.