What is THEtour? We believe that by connecting people coming through adversity(those who need to heal, rebuild their lives, their businesses, their families, their finances) and through creating positive relationships, networking, volunteering, community classes & programs that enhance our life...we have a transformation. One that lasts. It really does take a village to raise a child and takes a community of people with similar vision to encourage and support those who are healing.
THEtour ... a work in progress and planning over the last few years. And one that was a vision of my late father Raymond Merle Weiss. Overcoming Adversity in life is one of the hardest times and a persons growth can be encouraged or extinguished depending on the people around you.
This has been on my heart and mind since I was young watching my dad's vision that he never got to see fulfilled. I launched the concept in 2013 after my first big business fail. I needed this for my family as we had experienced adversity without any kind of support and it was the hardest time in our lives. I recognized there were many like us that needed help. Churches aren't doing their jobs; christians are the worst judgers and gossip tale tellers, governments aren't doing their jobs; communities aren't doing their part to create the support needed. There are many short term programs out there. Ones that help in the time of immediate crisis, but there is nothing and nowhere to go that can help create a path for the next 90 days - 2 years after coming out of a crisis. Whatever that looks like.
Gossip, haters, jealous ambition, bullying, manipulation and the need to control has become a way in society. Not much is safe anymore. To anyone. So when you are trying to move forward past some kind of loss in life, whatever that is, unfortunately these are many times the first you encounter. Here's something great I've learnt the last couple of years putting together my own Due Diligence on people....haters also have haters! Gossips also get gossiped about. And the best part about that is as fast as they try to gather their army of followers, someone(s) in their own group are drilling holes in their boats and betraying them. That alone is the best medicine for them. But who is going to focus on those who don't know how to build back up. And who is going to protect them from those kind of people while they heal and rebuild?
I remember when I was first a single mom. My dad who was my hero and really an anchor in my life had passed a couple years prior. I had no education. No job outside of babysitting and teaching piano. I had never been taught how to budget or run my household. My husband had been arrested and we'd gone through the system; women's shelter; protection; the courts etc. I had gone to the bank to get money out a few days after my husband had been arrested and he had drained the account. I had no money. I was given food stamps. Most humiliating thing in my life. In a small town. Which is typically pretty gossip based. My mom was still struggling to put her life together after my dad had passed and I didn't have any other family that seemed to understand where we were and how I felt. I was the first divorced on my moms side which was full of pastors and my dads side seemed distant after he'd past. One day a male social worker came by and said I had reached my 30 days and they had to cut all assistance and support. I needed to get a job and provide for my family and get up and out in the world. It was a fog to me. I didn't know how to do that. I asked what if I can't afford groceries. He basically said you better or we'll need to come and take a look at your ability to parent. I had such fear! Now I was a shitty parent??! I had to learn to swim by getting thrown in the water, Sink or swim. And people were not very forgiving.
On top of all of that, my mom remarried and moved, I heard stereotypical stories about myself just because I was a 'single mom'. I did my best but it all hit the fan a couple years later when my son got a bad cavity and I had to take him to the local dentist. He had 5 cavities and I said I had no idea. I said couldn't afford it and what were the options. Then I made an innocent statement about 'yeah he has his dads teeth.' The dentist then decided to give me his personal opinion about single moms and told me I had blamed enough on dear old dad, I was the one that was there. It was my responsibility. And he could report me for neglect. I started crying. I'd never heard this. I loved my kids and did everything I could for them. I was exhausted, drained, broke, alone. My house was older and my yard was massive. No one came by to offer to help mow the lawn, unclog drains, fix and replace a faucet, teach the boys how to do things, rototill the huge garden, nothing. Plus the thing that terrified me the most...I had snakes in my yard. I had neighbours reprimand me for not doing things fast enough, making the boys pull weeds and mow, having weeds in my garden etc. But not one offered to show me, help me or teach me. I went from being timid and shy to learning how to tell someone to go f&*k themselves pretty quickly. I started to withdraw from the community, my friends, my church, pulled my kids from school and home schooled (which turned into a glorified holiday - I had no clue how to homeschool). Then one day I'd had enough. And I literally moved my kids overnight. I got the hell out of that toxic environment.
Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown. But I was dying inside and without a move, I was going to implode.
This was devastating but made me as a momma bear dig in for my son. I worked hard the next couple of months and got him his dental care. But the reality was those things are really expensive for families. Especially if you can't afford the coverage. Over the years I started planning out what THEtour should be. There's as I said many programs there in the moment of crisis, but there comes a time when the umbilical cord needs cut and you are out on your own. And you need people who genuinely care and will help you rebuild in the right way. Because years later I never educated myself or got grounded. I lived from crisis to crisis. My focus only ever was on clothing, feeding and educating my kids. And I did that. But I never planned for failure, loss of income, business structure or building my assets and portfolio. That was a whole other fail at a later stage in life.
I handled it by marrying another man who was just as toxic. But his personality was the polar opposite so I thought it would be different. I quickly learned that wasn't the answer. I was searching for acceptance and love. I was a great dynamic mother. But a shitty friend, shitty with my finances, shitty with anything outside working all the time, hanging with my kids and pets and playing my piano. That's all I gave time for. I went on a self pity run for years.
I see homeless people now and my heart breaks for them. I wonder, what is their story? Did they have kids that they now don't speak with? What about single moms? Most do seem to fill the stereotype and I cry for them wondering what took place to make them hard. I look at young kids and my heart aches for them. How are they doing carrying the weight of being the oldest, middle, youngest. So much innocence lost so young. I see families struggling from poor economy or illness. Who's mowing their lawn and helping them with even the smallest of tasks?
The one thing that kept me going in the worst time of my life was my faith in God, my kids, my mama and a wonderful company that got me out of my comfort zone. I did nothing with it but it made me want to get out of bed and create a better life for my kids. It was called H-Trio. And founded by the most amazing woman. Who would years later be someone I think of daily who unknowingly holds me accountable in every area of life. I'm so grateful to have met her. And my current church. The teaching has held my faith strong in some really tough times. And my step dad. Someone who cared for and loved another man's family and never complained. Someone who brought a spark back in my kids eyes, and made them laugh.
October is a huge month for us. We designed a line of 'Packages of Purpose' for those coming out of adversity. We will be launching that line, THEtour and our 'Be Your Own Hero' at our launch event Oct. 26th, 2109. We encourage you to visit the website for more information on THEtour and how you can volunteer.
Sometimes it takes those who are knocked down to understand how to reach out. Because you know what they are going through. People need help in the areas of affordable housing; budgets & financial planning; health & wellness; parenting & relationships; protection; coaching; education; fashion & beauty styling; jobs and careers; healthy eating; fitness; culture & travel.
I remember someone saying to me once. Your kids must just hate it when they see an officer or first responder. My answer was always no. They are heroes to them. Time to stop much of the stigmatism that surrounds adversity and rising above. We need groups of people who will care and be there. Our kids need to know safe and what that looks like. My kids have no respect for people who gossip or talk down to those 'lower than them.' We were there. And they have no respect for people who can't stand back up and say I failed, and I'm going to keep going. Because there is a fine line. We can choose to play the victim or we can stand tall and push through the barriers and people who stand against us as we rebuild. We get to choose daily.
We always carry food and water everywhere we go. And many times we opt for that over giving change to someone. It doesn't take much to put a smile on someones face. Or to care. Yes there are shady mean people who have failed. There's just as many wearing suits and bowing their heads to say Amen on Sunday's though too ... everyday we get to choose who we will be.