From rock bottom to finding a purpose!
Cory Johnson started working for his family’s printing company when he was fourteen years old. He worked summers and after school — many times through the night, as it was a three-shift operation.
Cory learned early on, what a thankless and stressful job it was. It always amazed him how an unimportant and unfulfilling career like printing junk mail could be made to seem like life and death.
As technology became more and more prevalent, customer demands only increased. It became insane. Cory found that it got to the point where his printing company would compete against itself. A customer’s demands went something like this: “Last time you turned it around in two days; this time I need it done in one.”
Sure enough, fearful that he might lose the work to his competitor down the block, Cory’s company would say “Yes,” and the staff would stay up all night to get it done and shipped — and not receive so much as a thank you. Instead, the customer would call and haggle over the price saying, “Your competition would have done it for less!”
As the business grew, the internal stress among the members of Cory’s family, and the long string of 110 hour work weeks, became too much to bear. Cory left New York severely depressed, and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To this day, he suffers from flashbacks and nightmares. Sometimes it’s so bad, Cory is afraid to go to sleep.
Cory decided to move to Phoenix to start over. Phoenix seemed far enough away from everyone! Needless to say, printing was the last thing on his mind, but as fate would have it, printing was not done with him. Cory and his wife, (now, his ex-wife), packed up their three kids, including their newborn son, into the car, and headed to Phoenix.
By time Cory and his family made it to Tucumcari, New Mexico, he had developed a full-blown case of chicken pox. That drive from New Mexico to Phoenix was the longest and most miserable eight hours of Cory’s life. They drove straight to the hospital in Phoenix, where the nurses took one look at him, and put him in quarantine. It was a full two months before his skin cleared enough that he could think about working without scaring anybody!
The sale of the family’s house in New York fell through, so with two mortgages and no money, Cory decided to go into printing — again. He found a job with a local printing company, and quickly realized that he made a lousy employee, and within six months, Cory decided to go out on his own and start his own company.
The business developed rapidly, and with the help of Cory’s wife, the family started making a very nice income — one that afforded them everything they wanted. Cory thought he had finally arrived at the “happily ever after” part of the story, but trouble lay on the horizon. Five years into the business, Cory decided to purchase one of his vendors. STRIKE 1.
It was at this time that Cory’s mentor and best friend — a man he had first met when he arrived in Phoenix — took ill. Within two weeks, he had died of a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. This is when the wheels started coming off.
Cory started questioning everything. His marriage fell apart, and he started experiencing every customer request and complaint as if it was screeching nails on a chalkboard. He ended up divorcing his wife of thirteen years. STRIKE 2.
And that’s when Cory started his slow and painful descent into what he calls “the Perfect Storm.” As the financial strains of the divorce mounted, he switched to a factoring company to manage his receivables. These companies operate like legal loan sharks — sort of the same way a payday loan business works. STRIKE 3.
It was January 2008 when the whole thing completely unraveled, and Cory was forced to close the business. The stress of all he had been through made Cory physically ill with fibromyalgia and depression. His ex-wife would not let him speak to his kids, and she served him with papers, trying to put have him put in jail for money she said she was owed. Cory lost his home, his car, his girlfriend, and any sense of self-worth he had left. Filing for bankruptcy was just the icing on the cake.
February was so incredibly black and empty; Cory turned sleeping into an Olympic sport. Getting up in the morning was like trying to carry a 200 pound sack on up hill. Cory was so mad at GOD that he told everyone that, when he died, he was going to start Heaven II, and give people a choice. They say GOD only gives you what you can handle, but Cory remembers staring at the sky and asking, “When is enough…ENOUGH?!”
It’s hard for him to remember the exact point at which it happened, but something in Cory snapped, and he made a conscious decision: “March 1st will be the first day of the rest of my life.”
Cory had a burning desire to make sense of everything that had happened, and the mere thought of getting back into printing was completely unacceptable. When he looked back upon his life, and all that had happened, Cory knew there was something better for him. He had spent so much of his life stressed, depressed, and in pain that, even when he thinks back on the births of his kids, he remembers more about the insanity around him than the births themselves. That fact just makes Cory feel sick. Cory did not go to school for it, but he sure feels as if he has earned a Ph.D. in CRAZY!
Cory made a clear decision that day — he would make the second half of his life as fulfilling as possible. The first thing that came to mind for Cory was that he needed to take this entire mess, and make something positive come out of it.
Cory wants to help people understand that the stresses and battles of life can be overcome. He feels that, if he can do it, anybody can. For the first time in his life, Cory believes he has been given a gift, and now is the time or him to put it to use.
PhoenixRising-online is the vehicle through which Cory can make his dream a reality. Best of all, Cory finds himself laughing and singing more now than he ever has in his life.
What can we learn from Cory’s story?
When you find purpose in life, you find an authentic life