I recently read the book Breaking Night by Liz Murray. This was a very inspiring book and told the story of how Liz went from being homeless to eventually graduating from Harvard!
The book begins with vivid descriptions of the author’s childhood. She and her sister were raised by parents who were addicted to drugs and lived on government aid. They lived in an apartment in the Bronx. Liz and her sister saw their parents use drugs on an almost daily basis (when they had the money to buy them) and were witness to events that no child should have to view. Liz had little food to eat and was basically on her own at a young age.
Shortly after turning 15, Liz became homeless. Her mother had left her father and was living with another man before dying from AIDS. Her father eventually lost his apartment and Liz bounced around sleeping at friends’ houses and in cheap hotel rooms with her boyfriend. At this point in time Liz was not attending school and her future looked bleak.
When she turned 17, Liz interviewed at an alternative high school and was accepted. Even though she started high school later than most and was still homeless, she ended up graduating in two years. She was awarded a scholarship from the New York Times for needy students and got accepted into Harvard University in 2000. She had to leave Harvard in 2001 to care of her sick father (he contacted HIV). In 2006, her father died of AIDS. Shortly after his death, Liz returned to Harvard and graduated in June 2009. Liz started a company called Manifest Living which provides a series of workshops that empower adults to create the extraordinary things in their lives.
I feel Liz and her book are a great inspiration – especially at this point in time. Many people are very frustrated with their current situation. They feel they cannot achieve certain things and give up. There are numerous reasons why we cannot achieve certain things in life. We don’t have the time, we are too old, we have too much on our plates and on and on I could go with excuses. The great thing about Liz is that she eventually took control of her life and realized she could not change her past. Yes, she did not have the greatest parents and, yes, there were multiple reasons why she could not be successful. Once she looked past these obstacles she realized there was hope in her life but, it was up to HER to decide whether or not she wanted to make that change and start bettering herself.
I feel this book relates well with a lot of people’s financial situations right now. You cannot change the past and have a mulligan. You can, however, make that change and begin to get a better handle on your finances. I once heard the best time to plant an oak tree was 20 years ago but the next best time is today. Get out and start digging – it is never too late to better yourself!