What a colossal screw up! Significant lessons learned!

Grab a cup of tea or coffee, this is a long one!

I have really made a major mistake. For the last few months as I have been planning this adventure. I have had a lot of new things to learn,  things to think about, ways to get organized, supplies to gather and of course, shoe shopping for style and comfort with all this walking I am going to be doing.

The main part to this adventure is turning in my car. So, I have reviewed my lease, scheduled a pre-inspection, exchanged e-mails with the dealership where I am turning it in, begun a dialogue about the video  for the vlog I will shoot when I turn it in, and so forth. I have measured  tire tread to see if I need to buy new tires or let them (overcharge?) replace them. I have put the insurance company on notice that the date is April 22 & can we prorate etc. I have begun to empty the crap that has accumulated in the glove box, the door pockets, the armrest, behind the visor, the trunk, the …yada, yada, yada….

Then, as I am e mailing Ernie, my dealership contact, about next Thursday, his last line in the  email is “just to be clear, you will still be responsible for the final payments after you turn your car in.” FINAL PAYMENTS?’ my inner voice beginning to sense this is not going as smoothly as it seemed to be.

Yes, Ernie says, since your lease is for 39 months, you will still have payments until July. JULY???? What do you mean JULY????? I kudda sworn it read….and of course when I put ON my glasses, Ernie was right. NOTE TO SELF: Wear your glasses when reading important documents. My lease is not up until July. 39 months-not 36 months. Uh-oh!

SO NOW WHAT?????? This journey is already getting overwhelming as I get ready for it and I haven’t even given up my car yet!

So, I am in turmoil. What am I going to do? The tornado of thoughts going round and round does not stop. What am I going to do? I am out there. What am I going to do?  I have said I am going to do this. Turning my car in on Earth Day means I will make payments on a car I do not drive. I have told the world, through this blog and loyal readers, that I am GOING AWOC. What am I going to do? I have told my Advisory Council at work. I have told all 200 plus greenies at SART, I have told friends and family and professional family that I am giving up my car, Earth Day to Earth Day. What am I going to do? And of course this is the week Atlanta INTOWN just finished a photo shoot and an article that includes a bit about me and this adventure. And of course, I just found out that Southeast GREEN, a site that gets over 100,000 readers, has posted my blog to their site. So now, EVERYONE KNOWS. I am so out there. What am I going to do? I don’t think I have ever experience the world knowing my life to this degree, warts and all. What a royal screw up!

So, like any good girl does, I turned to trusted friends and advisors-those who know me so well. I needed to spill. I needed someone to hear dumbfounded me wallow. What am I going to do? Do I move the date? Do I keep it? What about the money? What will the financial cost be if I stay the course? If I move the date, what will be the reputation cost? If I move the date, how do I justify it? I have already said EARTH DAY to EARTH DAY. And I am OUT THERE, telling everyone. Will I need to do damage control on BRAND STEPHANIE? How will I explain it? how will I explain it to my Advisory Council, the green community, readers, friends, family?  This does not feel good to me. I have had fun before and it does not feel like this!

You can explain it if it is July – talk about energy independence, national security and July 4th-wave the flag…etc…..was one lines of thought that surfaced. So,  I let that sit with me for about 30 seconds and NO, that did not feel good in my body. My throat felt tighter and I knew I was not speaking my truth, if I went that direction. I began to realize what I was feeling –GREENWASHING. It did not feel good.  The only thing that felt good to me was Earth Day to Earth Day. I gave my word. But the money, I kept thinking. This is going to cost me real dollars, too. $1500 +/-  out the window was a hard pill to swallow.

Then my wise and trusted friend of the ECOs, Rex,  parted the clouds and calmed the tornado of thoughts when he asked, “If you were a company, what would you do?’  That question began to reveal the answers to me. The proverbial CFL began to glow. I listened as he counseled me. And what did I notice? I noticed the tightness in my throat was gone; the shoulders that I wear as earrings, relaxed; the lines between my eyebrows softened and I felt my truth wash over me. I had to stay the course.

I believe I have experienced a mini-mini-microcosm of what companies go through.  This experience I have had  is what companies go through when they shift from traditional practices to a more sustainable business platform. And, as you may know, this is what my company advocates-make the shift and stay the course and now, I get it. I get on a deeper level, what my company advocates and I get what I am advocating. I get the fear that can creep in when you have made a commitment and the financials begin to erode profitability.  I get what it feels like when your reputation is threatened. I get what it feels like when TRUST, and brand reputation may become tarnished. I get, on a super, super small scale (although it does not feel that way to me!) what Timberland’s CEO experienced when their  supply chain was tainted with leather goods that were not harvested fairly. It was an honest mistake, an unknown error that crept into the journey. These situations present an  opportunity to really define your character. For me, this has become an opportunity to see who I am and what I am made of and an opportunity to see if I am who I think I am and if I really believe what I say I believe.

Wow, all this and I haven’t even given up the car yet!

So stay tuned, because now, there are even more things to figure out. Like, can I recoup the $1500 +/- Or, does it matter in the long run?  Will my reputation as BRAND Stephanie be tarnished as readers know more about me? OR, will it be enhanced? Is my commitment to reducing my carbon footprint as important as money? Is there a balance or should one be more important? From April to July, financially, I will operate in the red. Will I implement cost cutting measures in the interim to balance the balance sheet?  Ideally, beginning in July when the car payments disappear, will I move to the black or will something else creep in?


This week is Earth Day. I am at 6 days and counting. And yes, I am still GOING  AWOC – Atlanta WithOut a Car!

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One Response to What a colossal screw up! Significant lessons learned!

  1. Angie Hunter says:

    I’m loving your blog already! Can you find someone to take over your car and car payments for those last 3 months? Might be a good solution for you. Looking forward to keeping up with your admirable journey!!

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