Share Your Serengeti
Everyone has experienced some difficult times in their life. Perhaps it’s a loss of a loved one or financial troubles in this tough economy. We have all been faced with adversity but how we survive these challenges is what makes us who we are.

Have you overcome adversity?
Have you achieved a goal no one thought you would?
Our lives are full of “Serengeti’s”....What's yours?

Share your Serengeti Below
  • I’m surviving my Serengeti right now. I compare this to skydiving. I made a decision to leave a salaried position and put my belief in myself to succeed in residential real estate. The feeling I had the moment I actually made the decision to change careers, was identical to the first (and so far only) time I went skydiving. I remember sitting in the open doorway of the plane with my tandem instructor hooked on to my back. I let go of the rod above my head holding me in the plane, crossed my arms across my chest with blind faith that my instructor would guide us to the ground. Then, just as planned, I completely let go mentally and we gently fell out of the plane, flipping head over heals. I remember looking back up at the plane as I somersaulted out onto a cloud. Exhilarating! I don’t have a tandem instructor with me on this career journey, but I have myself and the ability to find the resources I need. I have blind faith in myself.

  • I’m surviving my Serengeti right now. I compare this to skydiving. I made a decision to leave a salaried position and put my belief in myself to succeed in residential real estate. The feeling I had the moment I actually made the decision to change careers, was identical to the first (and so far only) time I went skydiving. I remember sitting in the open doorway of the plane with my tandem instructor hooked on to my back. I let go of the rod above my head holding me in the plane, crossed my arms across my chest with blind faith that my instructor would guide us to the ground. Then, just as planned, I completely let go mentally and we gently fell out of the plane, flipping head over heals. I remember looking back up at the plane as I somersaulted out onto a cloud. Exhilarating! I don’t have a tandem instructor with me on this career journey, but I have myself and the ability to find the resources I need. I have blind faith in myself.

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  • Anonymous

    In 2006 when the Real Estate market was not the way it was, savings were getting depleted. I applied for a management position at a well known store and I got it and the pay started at $9 and hour and I may have gotten a raise in a year to $9.50, that is when I decided….Stay in Real Estate and worked like there was work and there was and always will be. I am surviving and I do not listen to the negative…I just work!!! It was a great decision not to take a job that over worked you for so little pay and keep working at a job that was mine and I am my own boss. Even in bad times I make more than $9 an hour and I enjoy the work. It is hard work but when you enjoy it, you do not mind it, the rewards are so great.

  • I actually was in the Serengeti about 12 years ago. What I learned from that experience is that those animals are have to survive each and every day. I think in our world we say things like “if I can just do X then all will be well.” In the Serengeti there is not end result. Each and every day those animals are finding a way to survive and to make their situation better. For me that is what I try to do! Each and every day I look to make my situation better – whether it is my family life, personal growth, business etc. I have the amazing opportunity to make today a great day!

  • In the beginning of 2010 I left my sales position at a local ABC television affiliate in hopes of greener pastures, rainbows and all that happy stuff people talk about… I liked working in TV, I might have even loved it. There was something missing though. I felt incomplete having to report to work at X time and having to a 1 hour lunch break and leaving work at Y time. To me, it wasn’t worth it. I decided to get my real estate license and become my own boss. In the past year I have had more fun learning and talking to other agents. I sometimes can’t help but laugh at agents who have a “team,” talk about how they are struggling and how the market has down and blah blah blah… Maybe it’s because I am new in the industry and don’t know any better but historically, the harder you work the more money you make. That has been 2011 for me. I am surviving my Serengeti as I type. Coming into the industry everybody said I was stupid for getting into it now and that I will never survive and that I “will eventually become homeless” (thats a direct quote), because nobody is buying or selling homes.

    I am here to say that on June 3rd I will have had my license for 1 year and in that one year I have sold over $1,000,000 in property with an additional 2,500,000 waiting for a lucky buyer.
    The harder you work the more money you make… thats a true story.

  • Everyone’s life is hit at some point by circumstance or events that can range from uncomfortable to traumatic. Some people will just stop in their tracks, afraid to move or make a decision. They’ll be completely overcome by the challenge or they won’t even try to attempt it at all for fear of failure but it’s during those times that you are given the opportunity to truly shine.

    This is your chance to reach inside yourself, find out out what stuff your made of and turn the situation around. These are the times when you learn what your strengths and your weaknesses are. What you are capable of handling yourself and what you recognize you need help with. It is how you react to these struggles and failures that determine your levels of success.

    No one asks for these difficult times but it happens to us all, different levels, different circumstances but all providing us with an opportunity to know the true meaning of success because without the risk of failure, success can never be claimed. Here’s my Serengeti so far and it’s filled with the stuff I’m made of.

    http://activerain.com/blogsview/2151663/i-am-a-survivalist-

  • Simply put, life has been rough. But pressing through (as a graceful giraffe) has proved to be the most fruitful experience of my life.

  • Anonymous

    When the market got tough I got tougher. Twenty-three years in the real estate business and I’m working smarter than ever! Thanks to the Keller Williams Model, I’ve set goals and my focus gets stronger every day. My team is growning, my production is up and my life is enriched as I learn more about myself and my potential. The Serengetti is a rough place, but among the trials and tribulations its amazing to rise up every morning. I have a clear head because I have a map to my destination. I am committed to enjoying the fabulous vistas, embracing my challanges and looking for opportunties to grow.

  • Anonymous

    Karen Cioce-Cagle Champion Credit Union Mortgage Specialist : The Residential Mortgage Business is my passion! I have been a Mortgage Banker since 1985 , so I have been on the roller coaster quite a long time and have seen many changes in the business. I am thankful for the “boom” years – I had enough sense to put money into savings. My survival story began in July 2007, I lived in St Petersburg Florida and was a very successful Mortgage Loan Officer for a large bank. I specialized in first time homebuyers. I could see the market was changing quickly and my second home was in Waynesville, NC – a new small community bank was opening in Waynesville, I applied for the Mortgage Loan officer position and was hired , so I moved from St Petersburg, listed the home in St Pete for sale and moved to NC . One month into my new position my father was diagnosed with cancer and given only 6 months to live. So as often as possible I traveled to PA to visit . December of 2007 my husband asked for a divorce, my father passed away January 2008, Mortgage Business going good for a start up Bank, then my world really turned upside down, September 2008 I was diagnosed with Invasive Breast Cancer, But this actually was a time in my life that taught me true survival and keeping a positive attitude. I had people that I did not know offer to help and I learned about a different cancer treatment in Mexico so I took some of the savings I had and went to Mexico for the beginning of my cancer treatments. I am now cancer free , still doing mortgage loans in North Carolina for a very strong Credit Union and loving life each day to the fullest ! 🙂 One day at time !

  • If anyone had told me that going into management would be the end of my real estate business, I’m not even sure I would have heard them. However, after my husband had been out of work for 18 months, two of our sons got involved with drugs and we were fighting to keep our family from falling apart, and we trusted the wrong person with a land deal and ended up losing our house and all of our savings, going into management seemed like a safe bet. It wasn’t. That was really the low point of my personal Serengeti. I quit management after 10 months and went back into sales, this time without a team. Depending upon the day, I’m either a crocodile or a mongoose and I’ve learned to be cheerful and happy throughout these trials by focusing on my blessings and on the good things that I’ve learned through my trials. I’m also tenacious and focused on rebuilding my business like the crocodile, not giving in when things seem bleak. I’m proud of the strength I’ve gained over these past few years and thank God for the lessons I’ve learned. He’s been right there with me, strengthening me when I don’t know if I can keep going, and helping me to smile, sometimes through tears, by helping me find good friends and people I can count on. I’m leaving the Serengeti now and while it has been a good experience, I don’t know that I want to do it again.

  • As it is for the animals of the Serengeti survival is an ongoing challenge. Shall we say struggle? In the economic downturn of the 1980’s our family underwent a shift from prosperous, happy and nowhere to go but up, to losing our home and business and close to bankruptcy. Okay, start over! All was going well when health disaster struck. My cherished middle daughter was stricken with an autoimmune disease that attacked her kidneys threatened her life and became 10 year battle. Close to the end of that 10-year time span I got my real estate license. Flexibility made it a nice career for someone who had to drop everything and go off to the hospital, however it also made it hard to be consistent in keeping in touch and following through. I had a wonderful colleague who covered for me and eventually the disease went into remission. Enter the new millennium. Four years of relative calm, with all 4 kids through high school and three pursuing post secondary education. Daughter number 1 found her life’s partner and the wedding plans were on. The week before her wedding I felt unwell, didn’t want that to interfere so went to the doctor only to be told I had a grapefruit sized tumour that ultimately was diagnosed as ovarian cancer. Oops! Oh well, wedding over, in I went for surgery followed by a rather intensive course of chemo. Later that fall hubby was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Double oops! Stress takes a toll. But, here we are 6 or 7 years later. We both survived with a lot of help from family and friends and are, touch wood, cancer-free. My family, colleagues, clients and friends are wonderful. As sixty-somethings we are having another economic recovery or shall we call it epiphany? What do you think is next?

  • As a “Risk Taking Mongoose” I changed careers several years ago to tackle launching a brand new real estate franchise. Within 8 months I was involved in a near-fatal boating accident that crushed my skull and took one of my eyes. I was in my Serengeti – unchartered territory; learning to cope with monocular vison and overcoming a sudden self-conscious, self doubt.

    I learned to lean on friends and partners, and I learned what I was made of – it became a great time in my life and I achieved more in the next few years than ever before. I am more focused and much more in tune with what is important in my life. We now have 3 thriving franchises, hundreds of Agents and have our priorities squarely focused for a life worth living.

    It’s true – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

  • Anonymous

    I still remember the date like it was yesterday: 9/9/99. I was scheduled for a spinal tap and I was terrified because of all the horrific things I’d heard about this procedure. As it turns out, the procedure wasn’t all that bad, but it was the culmination of many months of testing to determine whether or not I had Multiple Sclerosis. I’d been working with a neurologist who’d put me through an MRI, an EEG, EKG, and any number of other tests after finding a dark spot on my cervical spine that caused pain to shoot down my arms to my hands every time I bent my neck down. He was a very depressing character, and hesitated to give me an assured diagnosis, but he told me the spinal tap would tell me for once and for all whether I had MS or not. When I went in for my test results, he was sitting behind his desk, looking sour as usual, and told me the test results came back negative. Hoorah! Why are you looking so sour, I thought. He then said to me, “That doesn’t mean you don’t have it.” I said, “Wait a minute; you told me this test would definitively tell me whether or not I had MS.” He said, “Well, there’s still the MRI.” Then he looked at me like he felt SO sorry for me. I said, “Why are you looking at me like that?” He caught himself, started stammering, then finally said, “Well, I thought you’d have more questions for me.” I said, “Why would I have more questions for you when every time I ask you a question, your answer is either ‘Let’s wait and see’ or ‘I don’t know’ or ‘There’s nothing we can give you to ease the symptoms’?” He then had the nerve to say, “Let’s schedule an appointment for you in 6 weeks and we’ll see what happens.” Needless to say, I didn’t go back to him. I then went to a neurosurgeon, who did another MRI. He told me that, if the spot had changed size since the last MRI, it may not be MS. It would be a tumor on my spine. Oh joy. Well, the spot didn’t change size, so he said it was probably MS. He referred me to specialists, since this was not his area of expertise. I was now faced with a dilemma like I’d never faced before. Why me? How could this have happened to me? The literature that I’d read said this was often genetic. I have an identical twin sister, so why did I have this dread disease and not her? I’ve never felt so alone in all my life. I alone was going throught this. Not to be the type that sticks their head in the sand, I scheduled an appointment with another neurologist. He recommended yet another MRI and recommended a drug that I could take which required me to INJECT MYSELF ONCE A WEEK! After much soul searching, I began reading the bible and watching religious programs on TV, trying to find any hope to grab onto. I started watching a program that went through the bible chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse and one day they were talking about the food laws in the book of Leviticus from a common sense perspective. They said that there are certain animals that were put on the earth to clean it up, sort of like natural filters. God said, “Don’t eat them because they’re unclean.” I thought about it. I wouldn’t eat a vulture, would i? Of course not! Vultures eat dead things. Well, I gave up eating pork and shellfish. Slowly, but surely, my symptoms began to fade away. About this time, I was scheduled to return to the neurologist and tell him whether or not I wanted to start on this drug. I said a prayer before I went in to see this doctor and asked God for his guidance because I didn’t know what to do, but I sure as hell knew I didn’t want to inject myself once a week with anything. When I got into the doctor’s office, he said to me, “Well, tell me what you want to do. Do you want to take this ? Oh, by the way, the MRI results came back and that spot on your spine is almost gone.” A smile as wide as the Pacific broke out on my face, I stood up, shook his hand, and said, “No thanks, I’ll see you later. Much later!” And never looked back. I’ve avoided pork and shellfish since then, have modified my eating habits substantially since that time, and have remained symptom-free to this day. After facing an experience like that, I feel there is no adverse situation I can’t handle through faith and belief in myself.

  • Being born with a degenerative bone disease is bad enough, but being born with an undiagnosed degenerative bone disease is even worse. Surgeries started when I was only a few days old and have continued since. From birth to 18 I had over 60 surgeries in an attempt to correct what was wrong with me in the hopes that one day I’d no longer be confined to a wheel chair. By the time I was in my early twenties I was finally moving around each and everyday not only on my feet, but also without the aid of a walker, crutch or cane. It was a long road, but I wasn’t alone and I feel I’m a better man today because of that journey.

  • Towards the end of 2007, after fifteen years in construction, I began to realize that my dream of being a residential builder was coming to an end. With a line at the bank at 8.5 million, working seven days a week and 10 customs on the ground, I knew the end was near. I was going under financially and I just had nothing left to give, either emotionally or financially. I had to make a tough decision and one that was taboo for a builder and was frowned upon by the local building community, the decision to become a Realtor.

    A friend of mine had recently started his own company selling farm and ranch properties in Central Texas, and he enjoyed what he did, so it sounded like a fit for me. He offered me a phone and a desk and suggested that I call some local Doctor’s and sell them some ranches! What? There was no training and for three years I had to learn how to list, sell, and administrate my own business and become a Realtor. In September of 2009 my older Brother was diagnosed with Melanoma, which would claim his life at 42, just six months later. This set me back for the next year and a half emotionally, but I was growing my business.

    In 2010, I signed on to participate in the TRLP (Texas Realtor Leadership Program), with a friend of mine who owned a local Keller Williams Franchise. As he and I began to talk over the course of the next seven months, it became clear that I had a great opportunity to grow at Keller Williams. Right before I made the decision to leave the other company, my friend and Broker (who was the number 3 man in my wedding) came down with stage 4 throat cancer. I was not leaving at that point, but still struggled with the decision to stay daily, because I had no joy in my personal and business life. As I witnessed with my own brother, when faced with your own mortality, people start making drastic changes and the ones my friend was making where not good. As I helped him through treatment and tried to talk with him about the future, it was clear that I had to make the move.

    On February 4th of this year, just two weeks before KW Family Reunion, I moved my license over to Keller Williams. Over the course of the past 90 days, I have discovered the joys of selling Real Estate and my life balance is good. Sticking with real estate during the past four years has not been easy, but it has rewarded me in so many other ways then just financial. I enjoy talking with people again and trying to serve their real estate needs. My trials have taught me that in the end every relationship matters, past and present, so love people where they are in life and help those that what help.

  • Having a child with special needs is never easy! Ours has spent over 3 years of his 12 years on this earth in a hospital. With over 30 neurosurgeries Joshua has been a fighter from day one! Starting at 1 pound 7 ozs he has taught us that everything can change in an instant and it will be ok! His smile lights up a room and helps all who have been in his world become more positive! He certainly has taught this mongoose how to live, think, and understand the special needs world. Though he will always be in our care we could not be happier to raise our son and handle all his daily medical needs.

  • I have spent the last 5 years evaluating my terrain. The majority of my life has been a struggle of emotional survival, beginning with a childhood where safety was never solid, teen years without a mentor, supporting myself through college, raising 2 children 90% alone in a new country, a spirit crushing divorce and then starting over from nothing, in a challenging economy in one of the hardest hits states. Sharing my love, sprinkled with hardy doses of laughter have kept me moving forward. In the future, my serengeti will be simplified, I plan to migrate often and only eat the leaves from the highest trees. Life is too short to not enjoy every day, and I realize my definition of success is not financial… it’s the freedom to roam.

  • I am the Wildebeest … each day since July of 2009 I have scoured and applied to various positions. This journey started in 1996 during my life as a crocodile; the entrepreneur with a growing business and endless opportunity. My business grew and started to change into an Internet company providing business planning solutions for the real estate industry. The business grew to the point at which it was acquired in 2005 by the nation’s leading real estate education provider. The acquisition provided a distribution channel that was not available as a small business. Unfortunately, the real estate markets’ demise was the demise for the company. In 2008 I decided to return to school and earn my MBA … a desire I had prior to starting my company, but was unable to sell my home to fund the schooling. I am 40 years old and in classes with students that are in their 20’s and 30’s … I thrived … letting my natural leadership, entrepreneur, and development skills shine in case competitions and student affairs. Unfortunately, being a 40 plus year old MBA graduate with an entrepreneurial background is NOT highly desired in today’s environment. So each day I receive a dozen emails with job posting all across the country. I spend my days researching for potential networking opportunities and applying for jobs. To date I have applied for over 600 jobs, like the Wildebeest making the 1,000 mile migration I never know what the next day will bring; another rejection notice, another ignored network connection request, or a call for an interview, or a second? The journey continues and one day I will reach water … and when I do, I will drink as if I have not drunk in over a year.

  • 2007 was a big year for me in business and personally. I had a record year in real estate production, bought a new home, 2 new cars for our family, and our first daughter was due in October. Our daughter came 6 weeks early, and spent the first 2+ weeks of her life in the NICU. Work took a back seat over the next few months as we struggled to keep our little girl healthy. Soon, the NICU bills came due, the house payment became a reality, it became obvious that the housing market in Western Washington wasn’t doing well, and I had taken nearly 3 months away from my real estate business. Additionally, my wife was no longer working so we were now a 1-salary, no insurance family. Not a good combination.
    2008 was brutal. In addition to all of our new expenses and medical bills, my income decreased from over $125,000 in 2007 to $24,000 in 2008. I was scrambling trying to find new work and new ways to hold off the debtors and new debt that we were collecting.
    Fortunately, I am affiliated with one of the top training companies in the nation and the top training company in the real estate industry, and I was able to jump back into the basics of my profession. I essentially had to re-teach myself the real estate business, but my company had all of the tools and support there for me.
    2009 picked back up to nearly ’08 levels, and as I continued to plug ahead doing the basics of the business 2010 was a huge record year for me. 2011 is off to an even better start.
    I honestly didn’t know how I would survive 2008 financially. For the first time I had a family to protect and I couldn’t seem to do it. Losing our home was a very real possibility. Through God’s grace and the provisions of a company that cares, I was slowly able to work my way through the debt, out of the hole, and back to a position of relative stability, despite the horrible housing market in my region.
    Resourcefulness and support from a caring team, both in business and in our church, pulled us through and now we have the opportunity to give back and help others through their Serengeti!

  • In 2008, my wife lost her job. Right about the time we found out that we were going to be blessed with another child. Her job loss also happened to coincide with what proved to be a very bad year in the mortgage industry. Our health insurance was through her employer, and COBRA was almost double what we were used to paying. There was a complication with the birth, and our medical bills were staggering.

    I am not one to give up. And, as an enterprising crocodile, I have managed to keep finding ways to survive in an ever-changing industry. Constantly seeking opportunity means staying nimble and being able to strike when that opportunity presents itself. The last 3 years have been very tough. But without that adversity, she may not have become a stay-at-home mom, which I believe has been a great thing for our kids. And I will take a bit of stress any day if it means they have the opportunity I didn’t when I was growing up.

    Reading “Surviving Your Serengeti” helped to put the last 3 years in perspective for me. I look forward to reading it again and applying it to the future.

  • Vesna Christiansen

    Losing the first big love in an accident, at a very young age – done it. Walking on a cheating husband with a good friend – done it. Surviving bomb shells – done it ( with dignity). Rebuilding home after 10 yr of devastation – done it. Leaving it to start new across the globe – done it. Mother ( my best friend ) passing in my arms – done it. Special need kid – my biggest blessing. Living between continents – doing it. At peace and accepting what life has to serve – I am ready. Today I feel joyful watching birds drinking water of my freshly watered green lawn, cherish each and every relationship build, and grateful for challenges that made me who I am. Hakuna Matata !

  • When I graduated from college I became a missionary to the college campus. Part of joining this organization required me to develop all of the funding for salary, benefits, and ministry expenses. I had to leverage every bit of my persevering Wildebeest to struggle through. The turning point came when my wife and I began driving around my hometown cold calling on churches. We had a driving passion that wouldn’t let us stop. So, we persevered and over about 13 months developed nearly $5,000 of monthly support and worked for this organization for a decade.

    I have never learned more in a one year period than I did during that twelve month period nearly 13 years ago!

  • Anonymous

    My husband had been forced to leave his job with the local power company due to chronic back problems and then our son, as a senior in high school, was involved in a New Year’s Eve prank that had gone awry and was having to pay a heavy price for his misdeeds. Well, due to his own stupidity, after his first year in college he ended up in jail for breaking probation. I had a husband who wasn’t making any money and my only child (who had given us no problems to this point) had just been put in jail and I was the only wage earner as a real estate broker. Like the widebeest that I am, I put my head down and forged on becasue I knew I had to for our family to survive. No whining, no victimization, I just fragmented my life in order to survive spiritually, financially, and emotionally. I prayed pretty much all of the time – God and I kept our conversations going throughout the day and evening – He gave me peace. From 8 to 6 I focused on nothing but real estate unless I had lawyers to talk to about my son. I just had to turn my emotions off so I could make a living and pay the legal fees. After 6 my husband and I focused on each other and visiting our son whenever allowed. In spite of me feeling like I was a spring that had been wound too tight and might explode into a million pieces at any time, through the grace of God and prayers of friends, we kept it together and got through it – all of us more the stronger for enduring it. Our family had never been stronger either. My son (who now had a greater appreciation for his parents) transferred then finished college, graduating magna cum laude from Texas Christian University. My husband joined me in real estate and we now have one of the most successful real estate groups in East Texas. After 3 years working for a marketing company, our son has jsut joined one of the most prestigious real estate companies in Dallas as a marketing rep and real estate sales agent. After I had finished taking the quiz at http://www.whatanimalami.com and found out I was a wildebeest and was reading through the attributes of the widebeest I immediately thought of this time in my life as being my personal Serengeti.

  • My Serengeti

  • My Serengeti

  • Barbvan

    Ever have one of those days when you wanted to take a long walk off a short pier with a life jacket and just float and not be able to have a cell phone, the pressure? In the course of 2 years, my sister-in-law died at the age of 55 unexpectedly, then my Mom had heart surgery and came out great but didn’t make it and I was the one to tell her to let go. I felt like I had treated my Mom’s life like a real estate transaction – logical and no emotion. And so began this long journey into my serengeti where I thought that I was at my wits end but then I read Stefan’s book and it came full circle. Granted, I had wild thoughts on how in the blue blazes I would be explaining to the bank why my client was in Africa (remember envisioning) and I was trying to get them approved for a HAFA short sale! (End of dream).

    The added frustration… that I was placing upon myself, actually “heaping” is a better word of the guilt because I cannot hear. I am a full fledged real estate agent who can’t make a pan of brownies but is smart yet… flat lining on the sound waves. I did the dental route to improve my hearing re roots too close to ear canal and nerves were reactivated by reconnection and then went for the hearing tests 3 months later. Simple. But that’s when I found out that I am not even on the hearing charts but 4″ below and people who are at the base of the charts are in nursing facilities! Talk about frustrating doctors, because I act, look and am normal. I read lips. For me, what is worse is the fact that when one is told terrible news that they need not one but two cochlear implants, is to comfort the doctors! Then you might as well consider yourself like Apollo 13 but you have more time then they did on the return capsule but there is no guarantee that the hearing aid will work. Ten days. Ten agonizing days but you know what? they weren’t because I had understood more about myself… I am the crocodile. One deaf enterprising crocodile and a feisty, strong surviving one.

    I went from the “why’s in my life” to “what or how can I make change” in my life. What made that change? The campsite in the book! The “you deserve it attitude” campsite comes complete with chocolates on your pillows in the middle of Africa!

    I have my hearing aid and by some great miracle (and I do believe in miracles) I can hear. I don’t have much time in the right ear but instead of focusing on “why me”, it’s “How can I make a difference for those who cannot communicate?” See, I believe that we can handle adversity and grow from it. Granted the past two years is not my cup of tea but it is one where change is important. It’s understanding your traits and those you are surrounded with to help you grow. See, one can chose to feel sorry for themselves or grow through adversity. I am the youngest in my family to have a cochlear implant and yes, I am proud to be fifth generation in a family of five, that have this defective gene and mine is the strongest. Why is that important? My grandfather Opa, left a legacy and that was to help those who cannot help themselves.

    This past January, my great niece leaned over to me and asked “Miss Barb, are you still deaf? Can I hear what you hear?” My nephew, her father, just got his own hi-fi set of hearing aids for both ears and three other of his siblings are failing the tests as well. My heart hurts because I know that it will affect this precious one and I would rather it happen to me or anybody else in my family. Because of my parents era, it wasn’t discussed but called “the curse”. My journey into my serengeti of my life has been for the better. If we don’t make the change for the better then we will never experience the growth and be able to enjoy our serengeti.

    The brownies? You can always go to the bakery and get them.

  • Katerina Gasset

    Surviving as a crocodile through my journey on the Serengeti and what a journey it has been! surviving your Serengeti

    The Enterprising Crocodile spirit has been a loyal companion along my journey in life and business adventures.

    The trait of being enterprising and the ability to think outside the box has saved my life several times living as a wild teenager who defied becoming one of the fatal statistics. Through my younger years I felt that is was my desire to keep my mother from having that dreaded call that she had lost a daughter.Yet I discovered just now that it was the Crocodile instincts that kept me safe from a young departure from this earth. The discovery that the Crocodile in me helped to keep me going has helped me to understand so much more.

    Sadly instead, it was my mother who left too early. How was I able to get myself through the senseless murder as an 18 year old girl with 3 younger siblings? It was the Crocodile in me that rose above the grief and transformed those devastating emotions into the determination to succeed and to seek out change, rather than fearing it as Stefan Swanepoel so clearly states in his book, Surviving Your Serengeti- 7 Skills To Master Business and Life.

    Serengeti sceneMoving through motherhood the spirit of the Crocodile and it’s traits prepared me for raising 6 children, 5 of them with an abusive X husband where domestic violence was the norm. During those 20 years I was but a baby crocodile kept captive from reaching my full potential. Yet no matter how anyone may try, the crocodile spirit is strong and will not tolerate captivity for too long. Using the Crocodile traits of being creative and bold this crocodile planned an escape for two years and safely brought her children with her to a new life.

    Now the crocodile was free and I was able to embrace the skills inside of me. Being an entrepreneur was in my blood. I was born that way. I had three jobs in my entire life where I worked for someone else and each of those jobs halted quickly because you can not make the crocodile conform. The last job I ever had was at the age of 17 at McDonalds. It lasted all but 1 week. I have never set foot into a time card job since the day I walked out of that place.

    Embracing the Crocodile traits has helped me to achieve the success that I have had throughout my adult life in my business ventures. I have an ability to see the opportunities before me because I am enterprising and resourceful and my mind is kept open and active. The crocodile embraces the ability to influence the outcome of future events. Serengeti scenes

    I have a “willingness to take on new projects and a strong desire for success and achievement”. These are all necessary traits in a successful entrepreneur.

    One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way’. This rings true in crocodiles. They yearn to lead and are less likely to follow. They seek out success and opportunities and do not fear change.

    The traits of the Crocodile may very well along with Divine Providence saved my life for all that was meant for me to be in my life.

  • Two of the saddest words in the human language are, “If only…” If only’s are heavy with regret over past actions or inactions.

    Regret is a draining, negative emotion. It can weigh us down, pin us down even, to the place where regret happened and keep us from moving forward, our minds replaying what happened over and over and over again, making us wish for a “reset” button or a “do over” so we could try again, hopefully with different results.

    We don’t get the do overs. But life is a powerful teacher if we allow it to be. We can’t go back and change what happened. We can learn from our experiences and change how we respond, because life has a way of offering us second chances if we are living in awareness and learning as we journey.

    My Serengeti happened twenty three years ago when my best friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I researched the disease and my heart sank. I pulled back. I thought Laurie and I would become old ladies together! I couldn’t face a future without this dear friend in it and to my shame, I pulled back from her. It was too painful…for me. She was confused by my actions. She needed me. I let six weeks go by while I struggled with my emotions, and finally, I waded into the thick of it. It hurt. It was difficult being present with her and watching the disease drain her life away. Three months after her initial diagnosis, she was gone, leaving a grieving husband and four small children. Three months. And I spent half of that time hiding, from her, from reality, from being a best friend. Regret kept me pinned down for a year after her death. But at the end of that time, I emerged knowing I never wanted to hide in a situation like that again or from being present with someone who needed me.

    Life does have a way of giving us another chance. Three years ago, my dad was diagnosed with….you guessed it….pancreatic cancer. My heart sank once again, but my resolve and determination remained strong. There was no way I wasn’t going to be present for my dad. I made some difficult choices. I canceled a trip to Scotland that I’d been planning for years. And I stepped away from much of the busyness in my life to devote time to him and being present with him. We were blessed to have him with us for two years. I have no regrets over any of my decisions or the time I was able to spend with him. And in some small way, the time I lost with Laurie felt redeemed as I was able to make a different decision this time.

    I have a little sign in my office that reads “Destined to be an Old Woman with NO Regrets”. It’s a daily reminder to live and be and do while I can. And I have my Crocodile button, which reminds me to not only survive, but thrive as the confident, bold person that I am, always looking for opportunities to seize, creating a future without regret.

  • Noreen in NY

    I lost my younger brother in 1985-car crash! Shortly after, I left to go back to school, I was 30 and went to RIT and graduated with 2 degrees! Worked for 10yrs in Rochester, bought my first house, met my current husband (he was previously married with 2 kids who hate me). We left and went to Plattsburgh, NY for 4 short years enduring the ice storm of 1996 -15days without power! We moved down to Cortland, NY and for 4 more years smelled the cows. It was there I started my RE career and became successful fast just working with buyers. We bought investment properties, we were doing well, I was managing the properties while my husband had a full time job.

    In 2005 my Mother passed away. And the RE market CRASHED. But did it matter? RE values here in Westchester county, NY were 3-4times more than upstate. Besides, I could not leave my Dad alone who had a heart attack. I moved back home because my older brother did not want to change his life in CT, my husband followed me a year later to work with me in RE instead of getting a JOB, selling 3 of the 5 properties we owned and did a 1031exchange and bought a condo in SC sight unseen. The next year both his parents died. Within the next 2yrs, 11 family members and close friends died! It was hard to drudge on especially since my husband is blaming ME for our financial troubles-but I have consistenly closed 10-12 transactions a year in spite of it all! Am I a Wildebeest – you bet!

  • Anonymous

    I was born in the Serengeti. Every year, from my earliest memories, I have celebrated another year of survival and prayed for better year, an easier year–less pain, less fear… less desperation. This year, I realized you don’t have to live your life according to a cycle of droughts and floods. You don’t have to suffer just because you know how to do it. You CAN walk away from the conditions you were born into and find a more forgiving place to live once you are old enough, and, God willing, wise enough to know that such a place exists.

    I was sexually and physically abused by my biological father as a very young child. My mother had four daughters with three different men before marrying the man she is with now, who fathered none of us. My mother was also raised in the Serengeti, but unlike me, it never occurred to her that anything else existed. She thought it was kind to be cruel, that letting your young survive without being loved or nurtured would best prepare them for the hardships ahead. She assumed that we were all born and lived and died in the Serengeti. She was wrong.

    For 36 years, I have searched for love and affection the way animals in a desert plain search for water and shade. I compromised my physical safety and psychological well-being in this search. I have spent 36 years circling the same ground, expecting that suddenly the climate will change, the soil will rehydrate, that life as I know it will change by virtue of my persistence and insistence that it should. I was wrong.

    Today, I write this as a 37 year-old woman who has just recently learned of a whole world beyond the world into which she was born. I cannot write this telling you that I have successfully relocated and am thriving outside of the Serengeti, but I can write this telling you that I have left the Serengeti and am looking for a place to relocate to and, unlike so many, I am actively searching for a life outside of it. I am actively MAKING a life outside of the Serengeti. Perhaps I should keep a traveler’s log for others seeking to join me.

    At 19, I married my best friend even though I knew he stopped being my friend the first time we kissed. I got married in Reno, NV, on a day trip, without telling anyone and sporting a green turtleneck and a black, blue, and purple eye. But, he loved me, and love hurts. In my Serengeti, what you know is that love is not free, it is not easy, and it absolutely, positively is not unconditional. Love is a reward for surviving. Love is a flood after the drought. Love is not permanent and it is not kind.

    At 21 and divorced, I was sexually assaulted in a nightclub. A chance interruption prevented me from being raped–as I was when I was 16 by a 21 year old boyfriend of one of my best friends.

    At 21, a tourist in the Serengeti caught my eye and he tried to take me away from the pain and suffering that I knew so well. I married him and dragged him into the desert with me. He was not abusive. He did love me unconditionally. After 8 years, I had his baby and kicked him out of my life.

    At 28, I married yet another man. This one was as cruel as my first husband–without ever having to raise a hand to me. But his love was a cycle of droughts and floods. He was a native of the Serengeti, like me. For some reason, however, he was able to be an abuser and I was only able to endure the abuse. He asked me to marry him. And after six months of hot and cold, on and off, and without him telling his family, we married in Pensacola, FL. It was a weekend trip and I wore a black turtleneck this time.

    Husband number three wanted me to have a baby and I did. Not because I wanted one, having met him with my first child, but because he wanted one. Even though I was not ready to have a baby, I did. Even though he couldn’t tell his family, which proved to be much more valuable to him then I ever was, about me or our marriage, I had this baby in Germany, where he was stationed.

    “Where he was stationed?” I married an active duty Army helicopter pilot and got pregnant and moved with him to Germany. I had been offered an active duty commission as a JAG officer by the Army. I walked away from that to marry this man and to feel like he loved me, to give him a reason to love me, because clearly, being ME alone, was not reason enough.

    Baby number two was born with a birth defect that kept him in the hospital much of his first year of life. After two medevacs from Germany, the Army relocated husband number three and our family to Fort Belvoir, VA, so our baby could be cared for by Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a truly excellent pediatric pulmonologist.

    Husband number three left me and our baby and my oldest son once he started calling said-husband Daddy. Mother stopped by our military house in Virginia a week later. Unable to stop crying, and with an immunocompromised and chronically sick infant, a toddler that refused to leave diapers, and news that I needed to have my ovaries and uterus removed, Mother told me she couldn’t possible stay for a day or two or ten–she only stopped by to say hi.

    Husband number three came back two years later. He was deployed. He came home. He left us again. And then, he came back–again. Unbeknownst to me, husband number three was not familiar and comfortable, the abuse was. The pain he caused was all I knew. I knew how to suffer and survive. In my 30s and circling the same puddle, expecting persistence to create a pond. He tried to break me, but, unbeknownst to HIM, I only KNEW a life of feast or famine. You could no more break me with your words and accusations and actions then a storm in the desert could drown a gazelle or lion or alligater.

    Husband number three left me again during his second deployment when my first son had a psychiatric breakdown and was hospitalized for a month after being diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features at the age of seven. I was alone. I was “crazy” and a “bad mother” and, apparently, a terrible wife. Ask husband three and you will hear that I was all of those things. Luckily for my children, I knew how to survive the droughts.

    Husband number three left us permanently and finally for another soldier’s wife. She was the mother of one of my youngest son’s classmate. They were going on playdates together while this woman’s husband was in Iraq. Nothing humbles a woman like her six-year-old telling her that “Daddy is in love with someone else” in front of her eight-year-old and his doctor.

    We got divorced in June of 2010 so he could marry her. Despite my upbringing, I had managed to graduate from law school nine years earlier. Because of my upbringing, I walked away from any career and way of taking care of my children and myself so I could endure an eight year verbally and emotionally abusive marriage to a soldier who left us three times and moved us five.

    For years, I was a beautiful woman. I was pleasing to the eye. I was also exceptionally intelligent and spirited and had a great sense of humor, but it was most important to me that I be attractive to all the other males in the Serengeti. How else could I subjugate my own soul and happiness for love? Love is never free. I knew that. I lived that.

    Yet, in the last year of that marriage and the first year of our divorce, I gained 90 pounds. Externally and, by society’s standards of beauty, I am no longer a beautiful woman. I have two children from two different fathers and I have been married three times.

    At 37, I was confused. I suffered for love. I compromised to be loved. I was unconditionally loving to others. I was surviving the droughts and desert and yet, I was starving emotionally and alone, literally. I was the single mother of two young sons and, apparently, eminently unemployable. I am too qualified for the jobs I am willing to take and not qualified enough for the jobs I would love to have.

    I was on good terms with husband number two. You remember him, the tourist that I ejected for loving me too much. I told him I regretted what I did to us and our marriage. Do you know what he did? He thanked me for telling him that and informed me he did not like living in the Serengeti and had no intention of returning there.

    This was when I realized that not everyone lives like this. Not everyone compromises their dignity and happiness for love. That is when I realized that husband number two was a tourist and not a native. You see, I never knew that a place existed outside of the droughts and floods. It was then that I realized it doesn’t have to be feast or famine, every year–it doesn’t have to hurt quite so much. There are places whose inhabitants don’t just survive, they THRIVE.

    I write today telling you that such a place exists and I have seen glimpses of it, glimpses in the faces and stories and lives of friends who love themselves enough to not marry a man who wouldn’t tell his family first, to not have a baby they did not want, to not take a wedding photo wearing a turtleneck and black eye. These people live in a world where droughts and floods are replaced by four seasons and enough rain to produce bountiful crops in Spring and enough food to get them through the winter. I am en route to that place.

    I am marking a trail for those stuck at the puddle and praying for a pond. I am looking in the mirror as an obese woman whom few would call beautiful without knowing her and I am learning to love her because I KNOW HER. I know that she loves unconditionally and she takes care of her children before she takes of herself. I know that she knows abuse but she also knows it is possible to live without abuse. I know she is articulate and well-educated and bright. I know she is a survivor. I know her abuse as a child made her stronger as an adult. While others around her were surviving by virtue of the herd, she survived alone, raising her young, sheltering them from storms and leading them to high ground when the floods came.

    I know this woman. She was never broken, not by inappropriate touches as a child or fists and betrayals as an adult. She was born in the Serengeti but she is wise enough now to know she doesn’t have to stay there. She may not be thin but she is beautiful. She is exploring the many places in the world where love isn’t abuse. She is me. And I not only survived the Serengeti, I took the strength it takes to survive it with me to a new world–a world where self-love is unconditional. A world where I value the love of myself, and of God, more than the love of people who lie, use, or mistreat me.

    I cannot write that life is good and kind and easier now, but life is certainly better. Unemployed and worried about money, but better. Life is better because I know that love doesn’t have to hurt and everything it took for me to survive in the Serengeti is going to enable me to thrive outside of it.

    I was born in the Serengeti. I lived there for 36 years. I don’t live there anymore because I finally figured out that just because I was born there doesn’t mean I have to die there.

    • Suevh10

      I am a 55 year old survivor. I want to tell you it does get better and it begins the minute you start asking for and demanding more for yourself but most of all believing you are worth more. It’s a long and winding road for sure. My kids are. 29 and 23. I never reeally got past the surviving mode before they were grown beautiful people. That was always my goal,I’m still amazed it became a reality. Of course it’s a lonely road.I don’t belong back where I come from and I don’t understand a lot of the rules in the world I live now. I sometimes feel so much of my life was wasted just fighting to survive….the reality is some people never step out of the weeds, never raise their heads and ask for more. Stand strong my friend….write some more …it flows so well…love yourself…believe me, you are worthy…and love those kids because they didn’t ask for any of this. Be strong and believe that good things will come…and they will.

      • Carissa VanderWerf Picard

        Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I am not in therapy right now b/c of finances so it helps me a great deal to read that I am not alone. I know that I am not but this is not something people just talk about… there is still so much shame. I don’t talk to anyone about it. But I am inspired by my sons and determined that they not be burdened with the issues that I was, you know? Hugs, C

        • Suzan Von Hor

          you are in therapy…every day of every week, someone will cross your path that you can learn from, positively or negatively. Look at your self and future as a business plan, figure out where you want to be and position yourself accordingly. This is your journey,all of the answers are there waiting. Be open to learning a new path.. Don’t over anaylize, let it flow..you have as much to give as you are going to recieve. Don’t beat yourself up. First part of recovery is acknowledgment…your’e on your way…you’re closer than you think!

          • Carissa VanderWerf Picard

            I feel like I will never fully recover or resolve this. I have very few memories but have found out that I have permanent internal injuries (objects in me)… do you think i have to reclaim the memories to fully heal? I once considered hypnosis but a therapist at the time said that she didn’t agree with hypnosis b/c she believed that our minds will reveal what we are capable of processing and it is detrimental to FORCE this.

            On a daily basis, I don’t think about what happened; however, I can see that I have done things and felt things and have developed a pattern of living that is classic for molestation survivors. So I realize that unconsciously, I am making decisions that are not those of a person who truly values and respects who they are…

            I believe that recognizing this is a very important step, but am unsure where I go from here. I am very protective of myself and my boys, emotionally and physically. (I am SUPER protective of the boys.) Someone else responded about the weight gain and I agree with her b/c I think that, again, unconsciously, I knew that being “fat” also makes me invisible and, by extension, “safe.”

            The hardest part is trying to love myself and seeing myself as being worthy of unconditional love. I just wish there was a way to “fix” myself…

          • Suevh10

            I agree with the weight comment too. Being over protective of your kids may not be a good thing. My son tells me that I I didn’t help him by keeping him protected. Only the other day I saw something that made me realize that by keeping him safe,I didnt let him grow up slowly,instead it hit him all at once and he had to grow up quickly. I read a lot, better boundaries, the courage to heal,12 secrets of highly successful women. The dance of anger. Some of it I read and re read…some didn’t register. I wrote it all down but haven’t had it edited or proof read….the pain is dissipating,the anger is waning. I feel Ike I was robbed of something. I am disappointed that I will never be who I could have become, I am so sad that I spent the years when I was slim and pretty, just making it through. I understand some people never get this far….but I’m still sad that I don’t feel worth enough to ask for more. Now my kids are grown and gone I am not sure of my purpose but when I read your words, I know I have come such a long way. By being fat you may feel invisible…..but (I am saying this to you,myself and the other lady who wrote), being invisible is giving into the pain. Standing tall with your head held high is standing up for that inner child. Just like you stand up for your kids. Treating yourself with love,care and respect is drawing a line in the sand and saying ” this what I expect for myself and I will accept no less, you owe that to yourself,( and I owe it myself). I use my fat to justify not being liked….if you get slim and throw your head back and step out there with the others, you will see they are all just as tarnished,all in different ways. You are no less of a being, no less worthy. Is it fair that you have to deal with this when you have already had your fair share of shit? No…..and I couldn’t get past that point for a long time….but if you don’t put the work in and deal with it….more crap will come. Change what you do and you will change what you get. One minute,one hour,one day at a time….and trust the process. I know this and I still fall off in a ditch on a regular basis. I am so sad that I am an old fat wrinkled women….then I wake up and tell myself I can’t get young again, I can’t get pretty again, I cannot be pure and innocent again…but I can be the best I can be today…and I get off my sorry ass and put one foot in front of the other and do the best I can on the day in question. Good luck , head up and smile….it will get better…I give you my word.

    • You owe it to yourself and your children. Most sexually assaulted victims only know the feelings of negative and find it hard to come out of that cubical, that square that has a hold on them.

      I fully am aware of what you are dealing with, although I have never gotten married nor was I able to bare children. I was always told “if you just behave a certain way, maybe things would be better.” I was a child. 6 years old. It never changed and I had a hard time sleeping at night. I learned not to trust and keep one eye open.

      I was a different person at school then what I was at home. As I grew up, things didn’t change much and then my Dad’s best friend hurt me. Not once, but twice. I was confrontational and all that seemed to do was get me in more hot water. The reality of it came when I left my hometown at the age of 25 to survive.

      I am 57 years old right now and I will say this, that it takes one step at a time and I applaud you for wanting to move forward in the right direction for yourself and for your children. The weight gain is a protection mode and I did the same thing to turn people off but all it did was hurt me and not help heal. My suggestion is to seek counseling when needed, and there are free services out there for you. I will also say that some days it is taking it minute by minute and I thinking you know that. But the bottom is, when we focus on the positive things and set boundaries that will protect ourselves in ways to create a healthy environment, you will come out a winner and so will your children.

      You will find that one day, your heart will heal and that when you love yourself, it flows over into positive things.

      I would like to suggest you reading a book: It’s about a Dr. Ben Carson, who was raised in Detroit, Michigan, whose Mom only had a third grade education and couldn’t read. But she raised her two sons (after she divorced the father (who was married to another woman)) by cleaning homes and babysitting. What she learned from those that she worked for, helped guide her and her boys. Ben Carson, I believe is one of the youngest doctors out there who is the head of Pediatrics at John Hopkins as a neuro surgeon. It’s books like this that have helped keep me focused and yes, I read alot.

      May God continue to guide you, bless you and heal your heart.

  • Kari

    Just over a year ago, I was fired (not ‘laid off’ nor ‘downsized’) but fired “for lack of finance background” – after 4 years mind you…… from my job at an ad agency, which was a blessing in disguise. I was there for 4 years in the Admin dept and can’t even say it was a result of downsizing since they hired a replacement much younger than I. (Guess she isn’t really a replacement then, huh?)

    Another blessing, (after the fact) is that my husband also ‘replaced’ me with someone much younger. While everyone’s 1st reaction would be to feel sorry for me, I will reassure you that there is nothing to be sorry about. Everyone in my life is MUCH happier since all of my changes, especially me! Sorry if that is TMI… just sharing 🙂

    Anyhow, I am taking this opportunity to go back to school for nursing, but want to get my pre-reqs out of the way, as my English degree from many moons ago didn’t require me to take sciences so I am hoping to transfer within the next year to one of the fine programs we have here.

    I am very excited to be back in the school life, and hope to teach my kids that it’s never too late to “start over” I guess. Cliche, but still- one can never stop learning! Within 2 weeks I will be officially divorced and ready to live for ME now.

  • Robbiskean

    I enjoyed the challenge and details of keeping a real estate office organized, paying the bills, taking calls, setting up appointments, filing the documents and also keeping the boss’s art gallery flowing with scheduling and tracking art shipments, payments to artists and keeping him informed of all his responsibilities. Then the recession took its toll and I was laid off with a month to decide how to pay my share of our families’ bills. Mature and savy, but with that very quality working against me in the local, youthful job market, I wrote applications, tendered attractive resume’s and interviewed with dozens of employers in my fields of expertise in the following year and a half. I finally realized that retraining for a job that was needed would help. I went back to college in Substance Abuse Counseling and found it very similar and as satisfying as my previous psychology training had been – especially working with addicted mothers working in therapy to recover and regain their children and families. I could feel my counseling skill combined with intuition beginning to work well, with grades in the highest levels (in spite of being in my 60’s) until my father suddenly passed away. My mother was in her 80’s, not in very good health after nursing him for some years and someone needed to arrange for everything – funeral, getting her to doctors, and finally pack up her home of 37 years – piece by loving piece and move her to a closer location to family members 5 hours away. That was me. I quit school and took on the labor of love, treasuring each moment with her and being in her home. After a month boxing, packing, give aways and settling dozens of affairs, Mom was ready to come with me to my home in Hawaii for a much needed rest. She loved Hawaii more than any place on earth from vacations won by Dad a couple of times in the past years. Her inspiration was how I got there and stayed to live, work and get married. She was so happy, even in her grief, to be here, but her heart couldn’t take the stress any longer – she had a heart attact on the second day, we spent the next 2 weeks in the heart hospital together while she struggled for her life – and finally gave up and passed away. I went back to school, this time in real estate (her and Dad’s profession), having been part of that for many years and am now starting my new business as a real estate agent. Just had my first sale after waiting and working hard for 8 months and am looking forward to more in the near future.

  • Anonymous

    My Serengeti…
    I’m only 14 years old. When I was three, my dad and momm got a divorce. My dad and mom both met new people. My dad met Lora. She’s really nice and now they are married and very happy. It took me a while to adjust to her so quickly. I still wanted to be with my mom every minute of the day. And when I would come home from seeing my father and Lora, I now know that it killed my mom to hear me talking about how great and wonderful Lora was. I read her diary from when I was a baby and saw what she wrote on the teardrop stained pages. I felt awful that she had felt this way and that I had caused it. When my parents split, I stayed with my mom. We didn’t have a lot of money until she met her new boyfriend, Kevin. Ironically enough, my dad’s name is Kevin, too. He was pretty fun when we first met, but then I saw that he had a very short temper. He would get angry at the smallest things. I was afraid of him for a while and sometimes never talked to him because I was afraid I would say something wrong and he would yell at me. When I grew up a liittle more and started going to elementary school, and was really starting to get used to the way things were-seeing my dad and Lora every other weekend and living with mom- my mom told me that I had to move to my dad’s house. I didn’t stop crying until I fell asleep that night. I never thought I would get over how things ended up between my parents and the living arangements, but I’ve done it, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job overcoming these changes. I wake up every morning and remind myself how lucky I am to have what I have; a family who loves me and takes care of me, no matter the fact my mom lives in another state.

    • Dear Anonymous, You are one brave person who has experienced something that most children do not understand, yet, you appear to have. What your Mom did, by asking you to move out, was more then likely for your protection. I am sorry that you have had to go through and experience those fears as my brothers 5 children, while they experienced divorce, did not have to deal with “the fear” factor. Never blame yourself, because of something you have enjoyed because of a “happy” situation, a healthier situation within your family. You caused no ill to your mother with what she wrote in that diary. You did not cause the problem honey. Not at all. We as adults, at times, make bad decisions in relationships and it affects the children and it appears that the children blame themselves for the “root” of the problem. You, are a blessing. Know that what adversity you go through in life, you can either learn from it and move forward or you can harbor it within your heart and be angry. One of the biggest pieces of advice I could share with you, is what I learned on my own but shared with my nephews and nieces was “With anything in your life, you can learn and grow from it. In relationships, as you grow up, look at what makes you happy and what gives you concern and set your boundaries in relationships accordingly. Most importantly, do not make other peoples problems, your problems.” You’re a winner through and through and I can tell it because of your words. Know that your Mom and Dad both love you but we are not perfect and sometimes we may forget to tell you that we love you. Hugs to you.

  • Liz

    A friend returned from a Real Estate Convention so enthused about your talk and your book, that I immediately went home and went to your website and found out I was a Lion. I was feeling like anything but a Lion since I had been laid off. I had had an upper level management job for many years, managing over 100 people at one time. Feeling like maybe I needed to step outside my comfort zone, seeing as I was a Lion surely I could, where had all that confidence gone? Recently I attended a church retreat, I was uneasy during the weekend and uncomfortable at the subsequent weekly meetings, but this week one of the questions was what gifts do I have that could be used for the good of the group.
    I thought about your book, and the description of the Lion, and that if I have those skills I could once again” Chart a Course that others could follow”, “create multiple options”, “achieve the goal while keeping the bigger picture in perspective”.
    I believe because of your book I once again felt confident enough to agree to be the Team Leader.
    I feel more confident today then I have in the last year and half. Thank you.

  • Survivor

    I had been diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago and as a result went thru surgery and chemo. After a year, the cancer returned in the lump notes. I had to have more treatment with radiation. This made me very sick with neuropathy and perocardiacitis. It had returned one additional time until last year I finally had a clean bill of health. After dealing with all the financial blows and illness, I had to declare bankruptcy because of the huge medical expense. This all happened when the real estate market was in a huge decline and going thru many distresses itself. I can certainly identify with Surviving the Serengeti! I am truly a survivor.

  • Cprante

    Yes life is full of adversities and only we can find our way out. I believe courage is fear that said it’s prayers. I lost my mother and best friend when my oldest son was 3 and I had a 12 year old sister who I then raised from that day on. Lost my father after he was living with us and we thought he was at the casinos, only to find out on Monday morning that he had passed on Friday night in his sleep (unexpectedly) and I found him. I found the courage to leave an abusive relationship with my 6 children. (2 of which I adopted when they were small children from my sister who wasn’t able to take care of them). I had no idea how I was going to keep the lights on and feed them, being on straight commission and in a declining market. I left with great hope and fight for that hope each day. 6 years later and I have 6 children–21, 20, 19, 17, 11 and 8 that are thriving in sports and school. I face an incredibly crazy schedule between them and my business—and there are many macaroni and cheese nights and we have learned to have chicken about 1000 different ways. But the fear in their eyes was gone after we left and their little souls found peace. My sister has moved to San Diego and that was wonderful for her, but truly left me here – alone and lonely although always surrounded by some chaos or crisis to deal with. The sun will come out tomorrow and with each person I meet I know that each and every one of them have some kind of struggle that they are facing and choose to be of help to whoever I can.

  • I was up for the challenge on ActiveRain and eagerly downloaded the first two chapters of this book. I just finished reading them and after taking the quiz, I’ve discovered that I am a LION!! Strategizing is definitely one of my strong points, sometimes to a fault. I can make list after list after list, cross things off of them, re-orient myself and focus on my goals, and work with the end goal in mind.

    I found myself relating to Sean’s “predicament” of not having any bars on his BlackBerry. It makes me nervous to be out of touch with my business, communication wise. I have difficulty prying my phone out of my hands to take a moment to live and enjoy life, I feel like I’m going to miss out on some business deal. Maybe the other six skills that Stefan Swanepoel, the author, writes about will help me understand how I can leverage my Lion traits.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the book to see what I can do to incorporate the other six skills into my business and my life. I like how Stefan weaves the seven skills within the context of a story. Seems to make the concepts easier for me to understand and actually relate them to real life situations. Plus, it makes for a quick read! These skills will surely help me navigate through my own Serengeti here in the Phoenix metro area, where the real estate market is as dangerous as the African plains, I’m sure of it!

  • liason

    My dad’s car was repossed Sunday night. I tossed and turned trying to sleep through the clacking of the truck coming to take his car away. It was 11:32 and I knew I had to fall asleep because of the AP Psych test I had the next day. I hate being poor. I have been working for awhile and had wanted a car so bad for so long. I started to think about my upcoming birthday. In one week I’d be 18. An adult. How can I have a car if my parents can’t even afford one. I know its not a parents job to buy their children cars. I just wanted some sort of push into my adult life. Is that so wrong? I’m going to be dropped off by my parents at community college next year while most of my friends are whisked away to Berkley and UCLA. Living in South Orange County heightens my senses for my current economical condition. Most kids in my classes recieved cars on their 16th birthday. Since I was 15 I’ve had to take care of myself financially. I am truly blessed that my parent’s love me, but sometimes a child needs more then love.
    So far I have only mentally overcome my Serengeti, but I’m working on the physical stuff. I’ve typed up a proposal to my sister and propositioned a deal. I made pie charts and graphs of my fiscal responsibility in the past and offered a $1,000 down payment and a 6 month payment plan with 5% interest. She buys me a car now and I pay her back plus more. Although I don’t know if she’ll accept my offer I feel its a step in the right direction. Mentally i have come to accept that my situation is not the end of the world. I have the rest of my life to find my inner strength and make it in the world. My situation is temporary and my possibilities are endless. Money is more important then most people give it credit for, but when I read these other entries and think about how my best friend could be dead or I could have lost my mom, I realize my life is just in a transition and I am lucky to have people in my life. I’m not homeless like many struggling Americans and I pray everyday that I won’t be homeless tomorrow. I have a plan, “be the change {I} want to see in the world” and thats enough.

    • I have an 16 yr old & a 22 yr old. Times are tough and we try to give our kids what we can.I could not afford to buy them cars,however, I believe a good education and belief system is priceless.My 22 yr old just wrote a check to Chase and paid off his car loan in full. I still have 3 yrs of payments on mine! He brought a 2010 custom ordered Camaro 1 yr ago and works full time, while paying his way through St.Johns University. I couldn’t pay for that either.He watched me struggle his whole life. I thank God he learned “how, instead of can I?”
      Don’t get disappointed. Your experiences teach you something. Learn from them. Develop good financial skills now while you are young. I didn’t and pay the price still.

  • In 2001 the company my husband worked for closed with 1 weeks notice. I sold co-ops as a part-time agent and had a very small income. We found out that his company stopped health insurance & unemployment payments the year prior to closing. We had no insurance or unemployment at all, with 2 small children.We couldn’t pay our rent and was taken to court.I decided to try real estate full time. I was scared to death and never sold a house. That was my best year in real estate to this date! My commission jumped to $100,000.I knew I was in dire straights and had to do this for my family. My husband was out of work for 6 months. That lesson taught me to be independent and rely on no one-survival of the fittest! I raised my children with the same ethics and am confident that they will be able to survive on their own if need be.

  • Kendra

    Finding out that my father had the same type of lung cancer that my husband’s mother died from was quite the blow. We are a military family and were in the process of PCSing from one duty station to the next. We took a few weeks between the two to go crosscountry to visit family. The moment I walked into my father’s house, I was devastated! He was clearly not well, and I was angry for not knowing! Six short months after that visit, I was able to go back and spend a month with him, taking him to treatments and blood transfusions… A couple of months later, I loaded up the kids and went back for summer break, they needed to spend as much time with Papa as they could. Then at the end of August, I got the dreaded phone call that he was having problems and was being admitted to the hospital. I was on a plane the next morning. I was there until the end… 2 of the hardest months of my life! At first my father would say, “you need to go home and take care of your family”… to which I would make a joke and say “they wanted a vacation from me, that’s why they sent me to you”. We never spoke about it, but he knew I wasn’t leaving him. The last few weeks, I was his primary care provider with hospice, and we would get so excited to go out have morning coffee on the porch. We talked about everything from the type of oil he wanted in his truck to the stories he was told as a child by his father. We always said, “I love you”, but truly it was the unspoken words that we shared that have helped me since he passed. I know that he was proud of me, and thankful that I was with him.

  • Sometimes there is difficulty Surviving Our Serengeti. Life throws us an expected curve and it’s the nature of the animal within us that helps us rally back. I just lost my younger brother who was only 44 years old. The true tragedy was not in his passing, it was a life lost to alcoholism. If only he were able to explore the strength of his animal instinct which if I were to guess, would have been like me, an enterprising croc. If only he could realize the determination to succeed could have tapped into the enterprising trait of self confidence. Who knows what he could have accomplished had he realized a clear mission to to set himself free from such a deadly, insidious disease. I realize to survive my Serengeti, I must learn from this difficult situation and not allow anger and disappointment to become a personal burden. I will tap into my enterprising nature and reach deep within to my positive energy and ambitions to move from darkness to light. It’s a choice to relish every moment because every moment matters. It’s a choice to survive my Serengeti and live joyously.

  • Serge Renard

    God is great and faithfull!!!!!!
    We all have stories of hardship, and failures paired with heart breaking consequences, but faith can helps us conquer new mountains, just believe and have faith, and you will be amazed by the results.
    God Bless.
    Serge

  • Cbrown

    The truth is we all are born with a handicap..Some like my son can be seen others like mine are not so apparent. I grew up abused, mentally,sexually,emotionally,physcially. Because I was left handed I was teased. Because of different close family members I was told that I would never be better than trailer trash. And, until my Husband and I asked God into our lives I bought into what they said but no more. Now I am a successful Realtor a mentor to others, I know that I am a Princess of our lord. My License plate says it all YES I CAN

  • A proud mother of three beautiful children and two cats 🙂 Life threw lemons for a long period of time, and guess what in my household we turned them into lemonade! Along came beautiful blessing from that journey…

    A Realtor for 13 years, I just love what I do! And, I am so happy to be in business with ‘The Company of Destiny”….Keller Williams Realty! (Glendale CA)

    2008 – Diagnosed with ovarian cancer (borderline), and than followed by ‘pulmonary embolism’ (blood clots in both lungs, literally faught to live), had a fall and fractured 2 spots in my lower back, and now going through a divorce after 25 years of being married. Yes, to a degree that’s adversity, however the ‘yearning to live a fulfilling life’ overpowered that dark shadow. My children and I got and are still getting so much love and support from people near and far in our lives that this overwhelming feeling of ‘gratitude’ became power! My desire to serve got stronger and stronger. My passion to ‘touch lives’ became my path. It’s funny, when you put it ‘out there in the Universe’ with pure intent, things happen! It just does! 

    Got married at the age of 20, raised beautiful children and worked as a Kindergarten teacher at the time. I had NO idea how to run a household on my own financially. Survived that one by diving right into, Financial Peace University, by Dave Ramsey, The Financial Guru, he is the best. I am thankful to this economy in a strange sort of way for forcing me into, re-examining, re-establishing, and really retrofitting my ‘financial structure’. I pray for those in distress, we are in it together and one day we will look back and smile that we made it. 🙂

    I started volunteering at the LA Mission for Homeless, and Children’s Hospital. One day
    At the Mission I requested that I be allowed to welcome our homeless friends into the mission instead of doing internal stuff. Well, it was that day….when the first person I
    Met, was this woman who was completely broken, however in her eyes I saw the same
    ‘yearning to live a fulfilling life’ that I had felt not too long ago. I will call her ‘Shelly’
    respecting her privacy. So, I sat Shelly down, hugged her and we talked about her
    Story. Than I knelt down in front of her and asked her that ‘if I had a crystal ball in my
    Hands, Shelly where do you see your life in the next two years?’. She asked me not to laugh, as she said she had an ‘unusual passion’! And than she declared “I want to be a person that sells homes to people and makes a difference in their lives….I want to be a realtor!” Needless to mention that I experienced chills and skipping heart beats. I knew there was a REASON why I was at the LA Mission that day  She had no idea what I
    Do for a living. Shelly, the folks at the Mission, and I kept in frequent touch. A year and a half later, Shelly graduated from the Mission, moved out to her own apartment. She has done all the required credentials for Real Estate. And is now awaiting a date for the Real Estate Exam 
    Now when my kids and I volunteer at the Mission, Shelly is right by our side giving back to the Homeless!

    Life is such a gift! Now I really ‘get it’ why being in the ‘present’ makes so much sense.

    And by the way, I am an ‘elephant’!  And, Yes! I did Survive My Serengeti! Did you?

  • Donna Hudson

    I am actually in the middle of my Serengeti right now. I noticed a few weeks ago my vision was worsening and thought it’s time to get an eye exam, I need new glasses. Within a few days while watching TV, I started seeing two screens. I had to hold one eye shut to watch TV and within a few days the same to drive. As I write this, I hold one eye shut to view what I am typing. I went for an eye exam and was told I need to see a Neuro Optomoligist immediately. They scheduled me for the next day. Nothing was resolved on my visit to the NO except another visit in three days. I found out that I could have a damaged nerved in the side of my face up to a tumor on my brain. Since there hasn’t been any tramatic events to my head, my family feel it’s very important to have a MRI of the brain. I agree. I have been taught for the past several years in my faith that its about how you walk through your circumstances of life and not about just getting through them. While I have no idea at this time what the outcome will be in this circumstance, I know I have the faith and strength to walk through it with grace. I fully believe we all have that same instinct, strength and skill to walk through our Serengeti with grace if we just tap into ourselves deep enough, throw aside distractions and keep our eyes on the prize.

  • Donna

    My Serengeti made me who I am today. I was married at 18 and the immediate mother of a 5 year old. I had my second son when I was 20 and in the same year I adopted the son I inherited with my marriage, My husband was a drug addict, but I didn’t realize that at the time because he would have headaches and other problems so he could get pain medicine. He only worked 9 months out of the 5 1/2 years we were married, I finally couldn’t take it any more and divorced him. This is were I believe my Serengeti started.

    I was then 23 with a 10 year old and a 3 year old. Many asked me if I was going to move back in with my parents but I told them no that I was going to stay in the house I owned and raise my boys. I have had many different jobs during the time my boys were growing up, I call them my past lives. I lived most of the time on nearly nothing as far as pay goes, but I had my boys. I was a strict parent but needed to be since I was both Mom and Dad. My ex was still having problems with drugs and the courts only felt that he should have to pay me $100 a month child support, which I didn’t get. I know I couldn’t have done all I did without the help of my parents, we were the pride taking care of each other. They were there as support and helped me out in many ways and in turn my boys are very close to them.

    It wasn’t easy and many times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through, but looking back now I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned how much family and God means and without them there is nothing, I learned that things are not always what they seem and I also learned that sometimes you have to endure hardship to get to where you are supposed to be in life.

  • Surviving as a crocodile through my journey on the Serengeti and what a journey it has been! The Enterprising Crocodile spirit has been a loyal companion along my journey in life and business adventures. The trait of being enterprising and the ability to think outside the box has saved my life several times living as a wild teenager who defied from becoming one of the fatal statistics. Through my younger years I felt my desire to keep my mother from having that dreaded call that she had lost a daughter was was kept me safe from a young departure from this earth. The discovery that the Crocodile in me helped to keep me going has helped me to understand so much more. Sadly instead, it was my mother who left too early. How was I able to get myself through the senseless murder as an 18 year old girl with 3 younger siblings? It was the Crocodile in me that rose above the grief and transformed those devastating emotions into the determination to succeed and to seek out change, rather than fearing it as Stefan Swanepoel so clearly states in his book, Surviving Your Serengeti- 7 Skills To Master Business and Life. Moving through motherhood the spirit of the Crocodile and it’s traits prepared me for raising 6 children, 5 of them with an abusive X husband where domestic violence was the norm. During those 20 years I was but a baby crocodile kept captive from reaching my full potential. Yet no matter how anyone may try, the crocodile spirit is strong and will not tolerate captivity for too long. Using the Crocodile traits of being creative and bold this crocodile planned an escape for two years and safely brought her children with her to a new life. Now the crocodile was free and I was able to embrace the skills inside of me. Being an entrepreneur was in my blood. I was born that way. I had three jobs in my entire life where I worked for someone else and each of those jobs halted quickly because you can not make the crocodile conform. The last job I ever had was at the age of 17 at McDonalds. It lasted all but 1 week. I have never set foot into a time card job since the day I walked out of that place. Embracing the Crocodile traits has helped me to achieve the success that I have had throughout my adult life in my business ventures. I have an ability to see the opportunities before me because I am enterprising and resourceful and my mind is kept open and active. The crocodile embraces the ability to influence the outcome of future events. I have a “willingness to take on new projects and a strong desire for success and achievement”. These are all necessary traits in a successful entrepreneur. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way’. This rings true in crocodiles. They yearn to lead and are less likely to follow. They seek out success and opportunities and do not fear change. The traits of the Crocodile may very well along with Divine Providence saved my life for all that was meant to be for me in my life. Embrace the animal traits that you have learned about along your journey through your own Serengeti. Thank You Stefan Swanepoel. for writing your book and also making it such a fun filled promotion that everyone can get on board just as Ashley and Sean did on their Serengeti journey.

  • Jmielenz92

    While attending Family Reunion I found out I was a Crocodile, I should have known this since my life has always been a challenge. At 19 I was married for the first time had my first child who was born deaf, my second child was unplaned and during that pregnancy my husband was spending time wth another women. I up and left my husband drove 1,200 miles to start a new life with my children. Raised 2 wonderful boys both graduated from college, married a great man and we had a wonderful life. My deaf son speaks well despite his profound hearing loss, he has been able to become a great surfer,BMX racer, snowboarder and skate boarder. He travels all over photographing everything. But life changed for all of us when my youngest son at 27, a gifted teacher and soccer coach had a seizure one night after practice. Within 26 months he was gone. Brain tumor, cancer one of the worst diagnosis you can get as there are very few that survive. I was a full time Realtor and continued to work and take full time care of my son. We went every where for treatement I learned that the people that I worked with in getting them homes came back to me with helping me with my son. They were in fields that I desperatly needed someones help in. I always looked to the faith side stayed strong throughout the difficut times and today it has been 5 years since I lost him and my heart aches every day but I smile and continue on my journey so that I may be the one person someone needs in there time of crisis. Crocodile for sure no doubt.

  •  After taking the What Animal am I quiz,I learned I am a strategic lion (although I took the test several times,that was by far the answer most of the time) and it makes a lot of sense. Looking back at my work before being in real estate-I’ve always looked at things needing to plan and execute,and my journey in real estate has been no different.This trait has brought me both personal and professional successes,it leads me not only to analyze where I am going,but where I have been. It assists me especially in evaluating where there have been missteps. Being able to see the ‘bigger picture’ is actually an incredibly useful skill as a real estate broker-as I use this with my clients all the time,to the point where most people often categorize past clients and current clients-the advisory aspect of being someones trusted real estate advisor never really changes,it exists before,during and well after the transaction.
    For the last few years I have been on a version of surviving my seregenti-and understanding the different skill sets,has given me a new roadmap to interpersonal relating with others-I have been applying it to my immediate business,my relationships with colleagues ,within firm and outside of firm,my volunteer work,my interactions with family,friends,my relationship and interactions with my team of healthcare providers. 
    I am inspired to someday visit the Serengeti and see the beauty of this ecosystem first hand.And on this day,I write this after having done AIDS Walk New York,with my colleagues and family members,in the midst of a new-ish health issue-but confident,that I will again come out on top.

  • Cathe Kidd

    I was surprised that I was the graceful Giraffe. I expected the elephant since it is my “guide” in my dreams when I need guidance most. That said, the description was quite accurate, and it has helped me see my weaknesses in a new light. I’m looking forward to reading the book!

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  • Roseanne Campagna

    Just finished ready Surviving you Serengeti. Finished it in one setting because it was that compelling. You helped me identify that I am more than a ‘croc’ that appears to be my basic skill. However, as I read the chapters, each animal brought to mind a personal experience where I had to use that particular skill to get through the adversity. Perseverance, recognizing opportunity, doing the right thing, setting a strategy, communicating, streamlining a process, and taking huge risks to make necessary changes… reading your book has reconnected me to my confidence and trust in myself. It is good to be human. Thank you sincerely for writing this book.

    • That’s awesome Roseanne! I am delighted and thrilled for your renewed confidence. You go girl!

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You can make a difference


Did you know? For every copy of Surviving your Serengeti that is sold, part of the proceeds are donated to the African Wildlife Foundation.

7 Questions This Book Tackles

1Experiencing a challenge you wish to overcome?


2Want to discover your hidden survival skills?

3Still have a goal not yet achieved?


4Interested to discover your instinctive strengths?

5 Can benefit from problem-solving thinking?

6 Know someone that has potential to excel?

7 Looking for a positive message to share?

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