Failure has never been an option that I’ve entertained. Perhaps because determination defined me, I viewed things differently than others. Everyday I’m asked why on earth I decided to offer bartered event services, refurbish trades and what made me decide to start Texas Twins Events a People Over Profit based business that during the week, puts me inside Prisons across Texas as an Approved Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Officiant.
The truth is that my partner for life was always my twin sister, Cindy Daniel. When I “came up” with a way to give anyone a beautiful event at a price they could afford, it was Cindy who joined me as we created a TwinTeam which is why Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins TV all contain the word “twin.” We are a Twin Family.
My twin grandnieces are known as the Little Pawners and have worked at over 200 weddings as flower girls, ring bearers and ushers for tips & Flips. Maryssa and Makenna are Cindy’s twin granddaughters. Our family has 8 generations of twins.
My son, nieces and twin sister are also wedding Officiants and the entire team are cross trained to handle nearly any situation on location. I never actually planned to have my entire family come on board to handle event services but the demand for affordable options was far bigger than I thought. We added suvs, equipment and staff to accommodate bookings and I also work on staff at Bell Tower Chapel so we don’t actually have any “down time.”
Cindy and I both work as coordinators and Officiants as well as Celebrants, Appraisers & more. We are an entire family dedicated to making event services affordable to anyone. I personally review every request daily and crosscheck schedules to ensure we never have an overlap.Traditionally, weddings are seasonal but since we aren’t limited to weddings and Prison Weddings happen year round, we stay busy and, booked out. Baptisms, Estate Sales, Baby Showers, Birthday Parties, Corporate Events and more give us variety and we like it that way. Every event service is as unique as the person contacting us.
I didn’t plan on expanding and rebranding by merging Texas Twins Events & Texas Twins Treasures to create The Pawning Planners either but, I rolled with the changes and when a creative request for a wedding at Estes Unit came through my email, I went through the background check and became a TDCJ Officiant and yet again, expanded and rebranded Texas Twins Events & Texas Prison Weddings. I’m open minded and have never turned down a request other than the one at a nudist Colony. Even I have limits ya all.
My initial plan was for my sister to join me on this adventure but, creative requests exploded and I needed more help.
Over the years, previous clients have even volunteered to help us when my son was booked at another event or my niece and daughter in law were working at other events. Splitting up is probably the reason we work so well together. My son and his wife work as a photography team.
My stepdaughter, Anne enjoys officiating as does my son. My niece Leigh Ann loves to work alone at events as a photographer and Cindy is nearly always with me wherever I am working aside from Prison Weddings. I am the only Approved TDCJ Officiant on staff. The reason for this is that there are very few Approved Officiants in Texas and, I’m one of them.
My grandnieces never actually planned on working with us at events but when clients realized we were two sets of twins, the novelty of having twins in their wedding gave Maryssa and Makenna an opportunity to join my Texas Twins Events Team.
I’m often quoted as saying Death is a Dark Stranger because it is. I Officiate at hundreds of funerals every year as a Celebrant. Funerals are hard for me because they are final. On the flip side of Funerals, Weddings are filled with Love, Promise and Plans of a happy life.
Perhaps because I’m Dyslexic, I look at things from all sides and often have a different “spin” because I think I’m a circle.
The differences between a Funeral and a Wedding are remarkable. Everyone or, nearly everyone is happy at a Wedding. No one is happy at a Funeral. A Wedding Celebrates Life and Living.
Occasionally, people are no holds barred at funerals because they feel like they have nothing to lose. Believe it or not, I’ve had more crazy experiences at funerals than any wedding I’ve coordinated or Officiated.
Shocking isn’t it? I’ve been pushed aside from the coffin at a ceremony before and have learned that if a survivor thinks the deceased is wearing jewelry, someone is going to demand to open the coffin and check. At one Funeral, I had to stop a teen from taking selfies near the deceased.
There should be a Funeral etiquette book for surviving family members & friends that outlines the do’s and don’ts of how to act, what to wear and what is inappropriate but, there isn’t.
After 8 years in this business, it’s hard to surprise me but, it happens. I had heard about my ex husbands death on FB.
Heartbroken for his family, my twin and I decided to attend services. Wearily, I worried about being one of the ex wives and what people might think regarding attending services but knew in my heart, my ex husband would’ve wanted me there.
I was one of three ex wives, attending the Visitation and Celebration of Life wasn’t an easy choice. We all recognized each other at the Visitation.
Knowing that my ex husband had most likely painted me as the bad guy would make seeing his friends and family more than a little awkward but, I attended anyway out of respect for his family and also sent flowers that I knew Guy would’ve liked. I always “do the right thing.” It’s important to me because I don’t believe in second chances.
If you have the opportunity to do the right thing even if it makes you uncomfortable, you should. A few minutes of being uncomfortable might make someone else’s day a little brighter. Kindness inspires hope. I believe this to be true.
For some reason, divorced couples often split up their friends with a “are you my friend or their friend” scenario after a divorce. It happens more than anyone realizes. Suddenly all of the friends you had while married, dwindle down because they’ve chosen sides.
Although we couldn’t work through our problems in a marriage that somehow managed to last five years, I had initially filed for a divorce after three years due to Guy’s affair only to later non suit and file for divorce again only a year later due to a Tax Lien.
My second ex husband was funny and entertaining and although we “agreed to disagree” on many things throughout our marriage, we managed to remain friends years after our divorce.
Guy often told anyone he knew “I am the most giving and most demanding person you will ever meet.” He wasn’t lying about this. His generosity was known far and wide but he could also take just as much.
My ex husband referred to his affair as an “overlap” during our marriage which was the first issue we faced. I had read the love letters sent to our home and watched him behave strangely when his phone rang and, I knew that something was going on. This went on throughout our entire marriage.
When I finally confronted him about the affair, Guy explained that he had been seeing Laurie when we met and that their relationship was an “overlap.” Told to “get over it,” I couldn’t. The fact that he didn’t view this affair as an affair really bothered me. I knew Laurie lived in Canada from the cards and letters so I also knew that every time Guy flew to Canada, it was to see her.
While Guy was out of town on yet another trip, the circular for the Fort Worth Club arrived in my mailbox (along with every other member we knew) that featured a Valentine’s Day dinner with a photo of Guy & Laurie. Interestingly, Laurie was listed as me with the caption of “Guy & Wendy McCollum enjoying a Valentine’s Day dinner at the beautiful Fort Worth Club.” As usual, I was horrified and saved the circular to explain to him that embarrassing me publicly was “over the top.” Guy thought it was funny. I didn’t.
When I was at the lake house in Arkansas, Laurie was at my home in Fort Worth. The calls, the cards the secrecy was just too much.
My trust was broken and no matter how I tried, the hurt wouldn’t go away. Guy suggested marriage counseling to “deal with my problem” regarding the affair. While going to marriage counseling, the second shoe to fall would be a tax lien.
Having no idea that credit problems existed when I married my ex husband, this Tax Lien was a shocking surprise. How many married couples ever guess that marriage can ruin your credit? I had managed to get out of a violent marriage and thought I had found a happily ever after with Guy but, I was wrong.
A letter from the IRS regarding a Lien of $89k was pretty shocking for someone who had never had a problem with the IRS. I immediately drove to the County Clerk to pull a copy of the lien and called Guy to “discuss” how on earth his tax lien had fallen on my shoulders? I knew how to pull Court Records thanks to my first divorce. As usual, Guy told me to stop overreacting.
My Taxes had always been taken directly from my payroll checks and always had been. When you earn between $34k- 40k year, a Tax Lien for tens of thousands of dollars you know you can’t pay is horrifying. Everyone is afraid of the IRS and I was too.
My ex husband lived BIG and often beyond his means. For a person who had never been wealthy, I didn’t understand how or why someone who made so much money didn’t pay their taxes.
While arguing over the affair & the Tax Lien, Guy decided to tell me that I see my sister too often and would need to ask his permission for future visits. That was it.
How much more was I going to let him take from me? My self esteem flew out the window from his affair. My credit took a nosedive and now I wasn’t allowed to see my sister? I didn’t want to die this way.
The only joy in my life was my family and after all of the things I had wearily endured during the course of my marriage. Failure was the only option left. Divorce is a Dark Stranger too.
Dragging myself and my son through another dissolution of marriage was the last thing I wanted to do but, what choice did I have with ongoing affairs and more surprises?
I knew my marriage would never work due to the conflict surrounding it. My divorce was similar to a Funeral, everything that had started out with so much promise and joy had been destroyed. The fighting and phone calls left me with little peace.
Tax liens were a regular occurrence for Guy who owned a consulting business that dealt directly with property taxes. Guy “negotiated” Tax Liens every year but I wouldn’t know this until the Tax Lien came up. While I was upset and devastated, Guy told me to get over it (as usual).
Choosing to fight the Tax Lien probably shocked Guy but what choice did I have? Never finding another job or vehicle or apartment due to bad credit I hadn’t created? I decided to educate myself to Tax Law and defend myself against this Lien. If I didn’t fight to protect myself and my future- who would?
Since our property was always separate, I filed for Innocent Spouse and, eventually won. From separate checking accounts to separate credit cards- our incomes were never mixed and the main reason I won the tax lien battle with the IRS.
The Tax Lien became a “war” between us along with phone calls that required Guy to leave the room and love letters from Laurie Battersby in Canada arriving in my mailbox.
I put up with a lot because I didn’t want a divorce but in the end, couldn’t take it anymore. My first divorce and subsequent child custody battle was the main reason that I “hung in there.” The Family Law Building was a painful place to visit and spend years of your life in which is why I agreed to a Rule 11 Agreement to end my second marriage.
A few of Guy’s friends blamed me for the divorce (of course), because they heard one side of the story, his. One of those friends attended the Visitation and gave me the stink eye although his sister, brother, mother and daughter along with his best friend Dan and his wife Debbie treated me with respect and kindness.
Danny Wright played the piano at the Celebration of Life and I’m certain that it had to be as painful for him as it was for me to have just seen Guy happy and positively radiant just a few weeks prior at Danny’s Memorial for Baxter.
I had never tried to hurt my ex husband during the divorce although I’m certain the Tax War was related to his friends and relatives as my fault. Speaking only positive things about my ex husbands is easy because there were always good times coupled with the bad.
Throughout my life, I’ve been poked in the eye with a stick here and there and took it on the chin. It’s only when I’m backed into a corner that I will come out swinging and the Tax Lien after finding out about the affair was just too much.
A Tax Lien will destroy your credit. You can’t rent an apartment, buy a car or even get a job with a huge tax debt listed against you.
For me, fighting was the only solution to a very real problem. I needed the credit I had worked so hard to build after my first divorce to find a home for my son and buy another car but, it would take me months to get through the process of filing Innocent Spouse.
The Tax Lien dropped my credit from 725 to 515. I was devastated about this but there was nothing that I could do as the process worked it’s way through the IRS.
Thankfully, HR at Frank Kent knew Guy well as he had been buying cars from them for years and I explained the problem of the Tax Lien while crying that I was reliable, I was honest and I would never miss a day of work if they would only give me a chance.
I knew that I could sell anything and learn whatever was necessary to make them proud of their decision to hire me. Frank Kent finally hired me and within months, my GM Certification was completed while I worked hard to learn everything necessary to educate myself on automobiles and suvs.
By chance one day while working at Frank Kent Cadillac, I opened a letter from a Tax Attorney that read “Wendy has never had a problem with the IRS, I am going to suggest getting her to file jointly and relieve some of the burden on you regarding the Lien.”
My change of address had forwarded the letter to my sisters home. After reading it, I faxed it to the IRS person handling my Innocent Spouse case from Frank Kent.
I had forwarded my mail to my sisters house and for some reason the only mail I ever received at my sisters home was that letter from Guy’s Tax Attorney detailing how to “move the burden of the Lien.” Occasionally, Divine Intervention or Kharma have played a hand in my life.
The letter was perhaps the most damning item against Guy along with the separate checking accounts as well as all real property being in his name. While Guy argued that I had benefited from his income and was therefore responsible for the taxes, that letter along with evidence that I had no access to his money told a very different story.
When I married Guy, I was finally driving a car I loved and was proud of. It took me five years to save up the money for the down payment while driving a POS that was all I could afford and, it had no air conditioner.
I also lived in a pretty rundown townhome on the bad side of town for years after my divorce from Robert.
Cindy’s house was too full to hold my son and I for long because my grandmother lived with Cindy along with both of her daughters and her husband in a 3 bedroom 2 bath home.
Moving to the ghetto wasn’t an easy choice but I was still in a custody battle and needed my own home for my son and I. The Child Study Caseworker assigned to me told me this. “Not having your own home is a problem. Your ex husband makes more money than you. Stability is going to be key to you winning your custody battle.”
For the first few years of the custody battle, I struggled to have a reliable car. I had no credit and little money. I had been without a car when I divorced my first husband because everything was in his name.
The problem with not having anything in your name is control. I’ve learned through two divorces that having my own car is really important. You have no idea what I went through to have a car but, I will tell you because you can’t make this shit up!
The day I signed the loan on my second car, a Ford Taurus wagon (after my first divorce) was the best day of my life after struggling through Texas summers with no A/C in my Geo and trying to keep my son cool enough not to throw up from the heat. No more miserable summers with the windows rolled down for my son and I.
June, July and August were the hardest months in the Geo Storm and the one good thing I can say about it was that it never broke down on me.
I couldn’t wait to get home from my second job and show my son our new car, a Taurus Wagon and turn on the A/C for him to show him it worked. You remember those moments. We both did. My son loved our new car as much as I did.
Struggling through a child custody battle with my first husband for 5 years, I had drove an old beater car without A/C for years to save money for my divorce attorney along with my sons Ad Lidem attorney and family counseling (often required in child custody matters).
Child Custody Battles are a money war that leave little left over for a visit to McDonalds or the movies. My son and I scraped by after paying attorneys and counseling and often the only entertainment we could afford was renting movies from Blockbuster.
My son and I loved visiting with my sister and her kids but had to move out to be closer to my sons school and have our own home. During both of my divorces, I lived with Cindy until I could find a place to live.
During her divorces. Cindy lived with me. We both circled the wagons throughout our lives and ironically, her first husband, Roy was also abusive and even burned her hair and clothing. Her second husband, Larry was not only unfaithful but had an entire second family. Her third husband, Steve is honest, kind and dedicated.
Cindy and I have both been through enough hardship to recognize the benefit of having each other to lean on.
My twin and I are closer than most twins because they haven’t been through what we have. Our mother was a heroin addict who abandoned us at a young age. We have always relied heavily on one another because we had no one else to lean on.
We are inseparable. Both our first and second husbands were jealous of our relationship. We have even raised our children and Cindy’s grandchildren as a TwinTeam. Cindy and I rely on one another in good times but far more during the tough times. We have always had “each other’s back.”
My apartment/townhome at the time Guy walked into Texas Patios to buy furniture was far from fancy and the house across the street had burned down which gave us a hideous view but inside I made it warm and cozy with thrift shop furniture and garage sale decor that made an eclectic mix.
The ratty and rundown townhome was all I could afford for my son and I. It had 2 bedrooms and 2 baths but was in a really shady area of town. Stray dogs and children without shoes regularly wandered around and no one had a nice car. Poverty was obvious.
My Taurus was brand new when I signed the lease on my townhome and I worried about someone breaking in. Yes. We lived in the worst possible area but, I could afford it and although the outside looked awful, the inside was home.
I didn’t let my son play outside as I had when married to my first husband for obvious reasons. It wasn’t unusual to see drug deals going on among my neighbors. No one bothered me although they knew it was just me and my son. I was friendly but brief during encounters with the others who lived near me and more than kind to their children who were almost always outside and hungry.
My son and I shared what little food we had with those children. Like us, the children couldn’t choose where they lived or the circumstances that put them there. I donated my sons outgrown clothing and toys to those children.
My son and I wished we lived closer to my twin but his school was so far away from her home that we couldn’t. We adapted to our new home and the area.
At the time Guy wandered into Texas Patios, I was working three jobs with Texas Patios being my full time employer. I had a home with my son although it was far from “nice.” We were doing okay with help from my sister caring for my son while I worked my butt off.
Throughout our lives, my sister and I have been the biggest asset to one another. No matter what we are going through, we band together to get through it!
Working at Texas Patios, I sold so many sets of upscale patio furniture that it wasn’t unusual for me to have 3-5 customers at the same time on weekends as I did when Guy walked into the showroom floor to buy O.W. Lee and walked right up to me.
He wasn’t shy. I told him that I was busy but could find another salesperson. He decided to wait and while choosing his furniture said “I will buy that if you will have dinner with me.” I said “I don’t work on commission and leave for my second job after I clock out here. I’m a single mother and with three jobs so I don’t have time for dinner.”
A week later, he returned again to buy more furniture and ask me out to lunch. I did have lunch breaks so, I agreed.
A few months later, we were married. I never planned to remarry but Guy treated my son well and offered me a better life. He lived far better than I did in a nice home in Fort Worth, a member of the country club and even a lake house in Arkansas for my son and his friends to enjoy vacations with my nieces and sister.
Packing up at my town home, I wouldn’t miss the burned out homes and apartments and yards full of weeds and stray animals that had become my home for years. I kept the curtains closed at all times because on both sides of our home the views were equally depressing.
My neighbors all came over as we were moving out of our tatty town home and knowing that we were headed to a better life, we donated all of our food and clothing and most of our belongings to our struggling neighbors. My son is far more compassionate than other people because he’s seen true poverty. It changes you.
The torn screens on windows and shirtless children waved goodbye to my son and I as our Taurus drove away to the good side of town. At the time, I remember thinking that the fear of poverty would never haunt me again but, I was wrong.
I will never forget waving to the children who had borrowed cookies or rice and silently prayed that one day they would find a way out too. I hope that they did.
It didn’t take long for Guy to convince me why marrying him would give me a better future. After years at Texas Patios, I had never received a raise and my nights alternated between working at Steak & Ale as a waitress or Fancy Lady selling clothing.
Weekends I worked at Texas Patios and after leaving work, worked at style shows or shot print ads. Working all those jobs, I still earned less than $38- 40k a year before insurance and taxes, attorneys, counselors, Between rent and my car payment and other expenses, there was little left over.
I was treading water working and trying to survive as hard as I could. Marrying Guy changed all of that. No more juggling bills.
When Guy suggested quitting my part time jobs and going part time at Texas Patios, I was leery about losing the security of a steady paycheck but, because I felt guilty about working so much and being away from my son, I eventually agreed to going part time.
I met all of my husbands while working. I never went out clubbing, I’ve been a worker all of my life and if I hadn’t met any of them while working, would be single today because I love spending time with my sister and her family far more than trying to find a husband. All of my time when not at work has always been with my twin sister, son and nieces.
During my divorce from my first husband and the ensuing child custody battle, I worked as much as possible because I needed the money and stability. From being a salesperson at Texas Patios, waitress at Steak & Ale, salesperson at Fancy Lady and modeling for numerous companies as a print ad model on weekends, I had to make ends meet.
Working 3-4 jobs throughout my custody battle and divorce from my first husband was hard but after marrying Guy, I could finally get the time back with my son that I lost working. Spending weekends with my son after all of those years spent working was the bonus.
I’ve never been lazy because that luxury was never part of my life. My first husband had a violent temper which was the reason I divorced him. It wasn’t an easy decision. Robert had promised me a war if I didn’t stop the divorce and, he kept his promise.
I just wanted peace and after nearly 10 years with my first husband, knew that I would never find it with him. I couldn’t do anything right in my first marriage and although I worked while married, my paychecks were given to my husband and I lived on an allowance.
The “allowance” left little money for me to buy gas much less do anything fun with my son much less, leave him. Yes, control is key to an abusive Relationship. Ask me I know.
My first husband always found a way to get mad at me. He could find things that were wrong all of the time like his dinner being cold or finding dust on top of the door or I didn’t know how to dress or act around his family. It was easy for him to find an excuse to “beat some sense into me.” The fact that we could be civil at my sons wedding with each other amazed everyone but, after all of those years of fighting, I gave up the negative energy needed to hold a grudge. Neither of my ex husbands ever remarried.
Divorcing my first husband and leaving my beautiful home in a nice neighborhood was the hardest decision that I’ve ever made. I knew that if I didn’t leave, one day my son would be the punching bag that I had become.
Yes, I spent years cowering around my first husband and his family. They never accepted me and although I tried to fit in, my attempts were futile. Roberts family would never accept my sister, my nieces or even me. They believed they were far higher classed than we were.
Even today, I suffer from headaches due to the many concussions my head endured during my first marriage. A slap here, a punch there. Nightmares haunt me from the years I spent living in fear during my first marriage.
By the end of my first divorce and subsequent custody battle, I had lost my home the only home my son had ever known, my car and on many days, the ability to laugh or smile. Five years in courtrooms had taken a toll on me. Five attorneys who took everything I had played a part in it with “do you want to keep your son or not?” I went hungry frequently to pay attorneys. We will get to that later.
No one knows what I sacrificed to get away from my first husband because I don’t talk about it. Occasionally, my son does but I don’t. It’s a part of my life I would like to forget and the only joy at that time was the birth of my son. I gave everything up in that divorce but I wouldn’t give up the one thing I couldn’t replace, my son.
Unless you’ve been through a custody battle, you will never understand how someone who claimed to love you will do anything to destroy you. Dragging my sister into depositions gives you a far better idea of the lengths my ex husband went to.
When I purchased my Taurus wagon towards the end of my first divorce while working 3 jobs, I was so proud of it. Putting $1500 down on the Taurus wagon and having the credit to finance it was a big deal for me because I had no credit of my own when I divorced my first husband.
It took years of paying on the Geo Storm without an air conditioner to save up enough money for a down payment. The payments built my credit and I was never late on those payments. The Geo Storm aka “beater car” without A/C I drove for years had a funny “back story.”
Since I had no credit and no money for a down payment on the Geo, I bartered a mink coat I had won for selling the most furs at Stripling & Cox. I was a model for Stripling & Cox throughout my first marriage and my “prize” for outselling all of the other models was how I finally got my own car during my divorce.
Offering a fur for a down payment at Christmas was the only way for me to get that car. At the time, I had no idea there wasn’t an air conditioner because there was a button for one and the salesman turned it on with cold air coming out. The problem? It was 20 degrees outside and the cold air wasn’t from an air conditioner.
Being poor and without credit made me far more resilient than my ex husband had ever imagined. I was bartering long before creating The Pawning Planners. Bartering a fur for a down payment might sound odd but throughout my first divorce, I also paid my attorney in jewelry and even furniture when I ran out of money. I went through 5 attorneys during my first divorce and child custody battle. Why? Money. They all want a retainer and when that runs out, more money.
Since I was laid off twice during that divorce, my jewelry was the next thing to go. I hung on to that fur because my attorney didn’t know I had it or she would’ve taken that too before dumping me. I don’t trust a lot of attorneys because of my first divorce. Attorneys love custody fights because they get rich from them. I’m not knocking attorneys, I’m just relating what happened to me.
One attorney, Connie (you can look her up on my divorce filings) even had me cleaning her house to give you a better idea of the Hell I went through fighting for my son. After taking my jewelry and going through my home to take furniture, Connie decided to send me to her friend to clean her home too. When I balked at this, Connie filed a Motion To Withdraw due to Non Payment. She failed to mention the jewelry or furniture she took in trade.
Crooked Connie was one in a million. The second you walked into her office, her assistant asked for all of your credit cards. I didn’t have any but was wearing my wedding ring to my appointment. I left without it and more importantly, without a receipt from her for taking it! I was too dumb to realize that a paper trail would’ve saved me. Too scared to say no. “Did I want to save my son or not?” It rang in my ears. Those five attorneys picked my bones so hard that whatever my first husband forgot to take from me- they did.
To save money on legal fees, I took a course in Marriage Law during my first divorce while working three jobs. I had to because five of my attorneys took everything I had and Non Suited leaving me without counsel.
One of my attorneys, Johnny Richards was a heroin addict. I didn’t know this until I had paid him for 2 years and he disappeared. His secretary told me “you better find someone else. He’s on drugs.”
At several divorce/custody hearings, I represented myself pro se several times because I had no choice. Those Family Law booked helped me more than anyone realized. Educate yourself if you can’t afford an education.
I have never been lucky. But, I’ve never been afraid to educate myself either. If I didn’t understand something, I would spend all of my free time learning it.
Thankfully, my twin sister picked up my son from school during my divorce and helped me take care of him during my first divorce. Without her help, I have no idea how I would’ve afforded child care.
I loved that Ford Taurus wagon it had room for my nieces, my son and even his friend Jeremy who often spent weekends with us. Signing over my title was a huge mistake because my ex husband Guy never put the car “he let me drive” in my name.
Filing for my second divorce, I would quickly find myself without a vehicle when Guy sent someone to pick up the “car I was borrowing from him.” For the second time in my life during a divorce, I was without a car. Guy had told me he would put the car I was driving in my name, he didn’t.
I gave up my Taurus thinking I was trading up but, I wasn’t. Guy had tricked me into being without a vehicle. Signing over my title, I also signed away all of the payments I had put into the Taurus. Trust. It only takes a moment to break and years to build.
I can’t stress the importance of having your own credit enough. I’ve met women who struggled to even get an apartment because they were “under the thumb” of husbands. I wasn’t alone in my struggle to survive, there were thousands of women in similar situations.
Thanks to the Tax Lien, the credit I had built up making payments on the Taurus was ruined. With bad credit from the Tax Lien and very little money because Guy had told me that I didn’t need to work- I had gone part time at Texas Patios and quit my job at Steak & Ale which left me with an income of less than $250 a week after health insurance.
It was a decision that I would always regret because after working at Texas Patios and being the top salesperson for 10 years, going part time dropped my sales and eventually led to me being laid off during my divorce from Guy.
I needed another job and I needed a car so, I decided to go into car sales but not just any car, I chose luxury cars at a dealership that offered salespeople demos.
Texas Patios gave me a steady job when I needed one and I had made them a lot of money in return. It was sad to leave a job where I knew how to do anything and everything and start over but, I had to. Going part time was a mistake.
Leaving my home with no credit and little money was difficult the first time but it would be even more difficult the second time because although Guy wasn’t perfect- he was never abusive. He never raised a hand to me and believe it or not, that held a lot of merit with me.
I filed my first divorce from Robert, my second divorce from Guy before cancelling it and filing a second time on Guy. Yes, no one ever filed on me, I filed divorce papers on them.
My grandmother thought I was stupid because I had it made and needed to put my son first and stop feeling sorry for myself. “He has a few problems but most men have a gal in every port! Snap out of it, he earns a good living, treats your son well, you have it good and you’re going to throw it all away.”
Peace is expensive and hard to come by. I lost a lot walking away from two marriages and walking away with nothing isn’t an easy choice but my “walking away” question guided my decision. The question? “Do you want to die living this way?”
Thinking on my feet, I used my history in sales to find a job that offered a free demo at Frank Kent Cadillac. My savvy landed me a free car with free gas, health insurance and a steady income.
Many people are shocked that I “came up” with a way to find a job and a car but, being poor makes you smart. You have none of the advantages folks with money do. You are left with “figuring it out” and, I did!
To compete with my fellow salesmen, I had think outside the box. Being new to car sales, I spent a few days trying to figure out how to attract my own client base.
To generate clients, I used my history as a model, actress and spokesperson to my benefit by hiring a photographer and running glossy ads at country clubs to directly market customers who could afford high end automobiles.
Sure, my felllow salespeople laughed at doing my own advertising but, they weren’t laughing for long. I became the top salesperson for Cadillac in North Texas my first year of selling luxury cars.
In a Cadillac Escalade Ad, I even put my twin sister and twin grandnieces in the print ad with a caption reading “Got a big family- get an Escalade!” I sold so many Escalades with this Ad that a few of the salespeople tried looking into target marketing themselves and Frank Kent began reimbursing me for my advertising expenses. I had worked in brand merchandising for years and “took up” modeling in my 20’s to find a way to have nicer clothes. My son modeled with me and was the best dressed kid in town.
Between the clothing we acquired by modeling and thrift shops, no one knew we had financial problems. I learned in my 20’s that to be successful- you needed to look like you were. Yes, this struggling mother “figured it out!” I’ve been poor before and being poor gives you the insight not being poor won’t. I didn’t have a mother or father to help me pay my bills. I had no one to lean on financially.
I didn’t hire a Tax Attorney because I couldn’t afford to. I defended myself Pro Se on the Tax Lien and, won. The Tax Lien was removed from my credit report a year after I had filed for Innocent Spouse.
The Tax War had ended and I learned a valuable lesson about signing a Joint Tax Return. With my earnings from Frank Kent, I leased a condo in a beautiful building with an elevator. The rent was $1400 and, I could afford it! My days of poverty were well behind me and I drove a beautiful demo and had money in the bank.
In case you’re wondering about my divorce from Guy McCollum or how I made out on that Rule 11 Agreement, I will tell you. I went into that marriage with a Ford Taurus and a few personal possessions. I left and agreed to leave it without my car. There were no monetary offerings in the Agreement. I did finally get my living room furniture back but, nothing else. I agreed to do this because the fight wasn’t worth fighting. I lost too much during those divorces to keep fighting. For all of the people who assumed that I married for money- I’m laying out the truth. You can find it yourself at the Family Court Building in Fort Worth under Wendy McCollum VS Guy McCollum. There are two filings. Look for the second filing.
Frank Kent saved me from moving back to the ghetto during my second divorce. Frank Kent also gave me a car, insurance and stability along with repairing my tattered self esteem that two divorces had taken from me. My condo had a nice gym, swimming pools and a park. Cindy spent weekends with me and I was finally back on my feet.I’ve sold one thing or another my entire life. Whether it was selling food as a waitress or high end clothing, patio furniture or even luxury cars. The only job that literally saved me was car sales. Sure, working other jobs helped me paid my bills but those other jobs never gave me the security or income car sales did.
I no longer worried about where I wold end up or what would happen to me after Frank Kent.
For the past 11 years, I’ve “run into” my ex husband here, there and everywhere because Fort Worth is a small town. My last meeting with him was at a Memorial with Danny Wright. By then, I had long forgiven Guy for his “mistakes.”
Guy had told me on many occasions that he never stopped loving me but love isn’t enough sometimes or, it wasn’t enough for me anyway. I wanted the best for him. I wanted him to have a happy life.
My life has been a series of ups and downs that left me with little trust. By the time I met my third husband, I was leery of anyone.
I was working by appointment at Frank Kent thanks to my successful advertising campaign. It was during a photo shoot for a Cadillac Sedan that Matthew Wortham walked into the showroom and requested me as a salesperson. Since my afternoon was free other than the photo shoot, I had him wait in my office. He had a friendly smile and easy laugh and I liked him right off the bat. He was funny and, an easy sale. Ironically, I had to tell him not to take the first or second deal my manager gave him. The reason I sold so many cars was my honesty. My customers got fair deals because I guided them on the deal.
I’ve always worn a wedding ring even when going through a divorce or when divorced. My reasons for this were that I didn’t want anyone “hitting on me.”
Matthew Wortham bought two Cadillacs from me before asking me out on a date. I didn’t date because I was too busy working and taking care of my son during both of my previous divorces. I’ve never really dated because my entire life was spent either married or going through a divorce.
Working was the only thing that rewarded me and I was always a dedicated worker. Early to work and late to leave. I couldn’t count on my husbands but, I could count on my pay checks.
Work gave me the income to support my son and put a roof over our heads. No one was as thankful for having a job as I was. Work literally saved my life! I made more money selling cars than I had working three jobs.
My demo was stunning and made me feel like a Princess. Other than my personal issues away from the dealership, I was happier than ever as a New Car Salesperson and, making more money than I could have ever thought possible.
Amazing right? The only thing in my life missing was someone to love me but, if I had to live in fear of someone hitting me, having an affair or dumping their debt on me–I was prepared to go it alone!
Finally for the first time in my life, money wasn’t an issue anymore. My sister and I took trips with the kids and had so much fun doing everything I couldn’t do before and best of all, I could help my sister with money as she was raising her grandtwins without child support from either parent.
Luxury New Car Sales was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made in my life. Texas Twins Events was the first best decision but if not for Frank Kent and my own ads, who knew how I would get a car and make a living?
God is Good and without the bad times, I would never have really appreciated the good ones. I survived the struggles and was thankful for the journey of finally becoming self sufficient.
These Print Ads tell the story of how I went from a life that devastated me to the troubles that wouldn’t define me. I found the confidence that I had lost and realized for the first time in my life that I had value.
Doing something different and thinking outside the box was the reason I was successful.
Being laid off crushes your self esteem but being laid off with your life falling apart really crushes it. Texas Patios laying me off after going part time was painful but it opened the door to new opportunities and a better life.
Texas Patios was never going to pay my bills which was why I worked so many other jobs. If Texas Patios had paid me commission, I wouldn’t need to supplement my income with other jobs but, due to “my sales being so high- if we paid you commission, you would make more than we do” was the explanation that I was given when moved to $13.76 an hour less insurance required me to work several jobs.
I worked 6 days a week at Texas Patios without overtime because I needed the hours. For years and years. The one time that they paid me commission, lasted one month. Why? The commission list of manufacturers changed weekly. I could “flip” anyone to the manufacturers on the list. No one else could do this and because I could, I “was making too much money. We have to move you to hourly. It’s upsetting the other salespeople.”
What I should have done was find other employment but, I was so beaten down from my custody battle, I literally feared finding another job.
You cannot be unemployed during a custody battle. If you didn’t know this- you should. A caseworker is assigned to you by the Court. You must be able to provide a home, income and stable environment. I worked part time and full time jobs during my first marriage but during the divorce, had lost my job as a teacher when I was laid off. While trying to find another job, I worked for Kelly Services at CSC for three years as a receptionist.
On my birthday, I was laid off right before Thanksgiving and Christmas from CSC. Knowing the Child Study Caseworker would think I was unstable, I drove in the rain to Texas Patios after finding a secretary job in the newspaper. It was raining, I had no umbrella and I begged Ken Mattoon to hire me. I was terrified of not having a job, losing my shady townhome or missing a payment on my crappy Geo Storm. Yes, I begged. I needed that job, any job to provide for my son.
The job paid $10 an hour. Texas Patios hired me the same day and a few months later, I learned salespeople made $12 an hour. I begged them to give me a week on the floor because I really needed that $2 more an hour for my attorneys.
The rest is history, I outsold everyone because I was far hungrier than they were. No talking on the phone, reading a newspaper or jacking around for me. If you pulled into that lot, I met you long before you came into Texas Patios. Top salespeople aren’t lucky- they are driven! I could sell anything because I learned the product and valued my customers. Even today, I get calls from sales at Texas Patios. They’ve since gone out of business but people continue to call me for advice or referrals. My clients are friends.
For the next two years, Matthew bought a new car every year from me. While doing the paperwork on his Escalade truck, he said something that surprised me “your husband is one lucky guy- you’re very successful. I see your ads everywhere I go and you’re friendly and honest. By far one of the best salespeople that I’ve ever met.” I started crying and admitted that I was going through a divorce.
The next day I had flowers on my desk with a note that read “I never meant to make you cry. One day, I hope you find someone worthy of you. I would love to be that person. Would you go to dinner with me?”
I called him back although he would later admit that he was shocked to hear from me because he assumed that I was out of his league. My entire family went to dinner with us. I explained that my twin and I are really close and if he wanted to be around me, it would be with my family too.
A year later, Matthew bought me a car and built me a house. The car was in my name only and the house? In both of our names. Matthew knew what I had been through and worked hard to earn my trust.
Buying me my Dream Car and putting it in my name was the best gift I have ever been given aside from the retainer my dad bought when my front teeth were knocked out as a child. I’ve had few amazing presents in my life but the retainer gave me self esteem and the car gave me freedom and security. It was mine and no one was going to take it away from me.
Building a house and adding a wing for my twin sister to spend the weekends with her twin granddaughters and building a pool for us to play in gave us years of fun at our other home. Yes. My husband is my best friend.
Matthew also treated my twin sister with the love and generosity that neither of my previous husbands had.
Even today, I keep my own checking accounts and credit cards. I’ve learned my lesson and although I can trust my husband, having my own credit is important to me.
After all of these years, I trust Matthew but he knows that being so much older than me, one day I will be on my own as a widow and has provided long before his death to ensure that I never have to marry for security or money again.
Since everyone asks where the money came from to start Texas Twins Events, I will answer that question first. My husband and I sold our Dream Home. My half of the money was used to start Texas Twins Events.
I was well aware that most vendors were far too high in pricing after my sons wedding. Struggling through thyroid cancer at the time my son announced his plans to marry, I had huge medical bills and couldn’t afford to pay a florist for my sons wedding.
The price points were so high that I provided all of the bouquets, bouteniers, centerpieces and decorations myself to save money.
When I had married my first husband, it was in Las Vegas. I have never had a “real wedding” with the photos, the food, the flowers and the fuss. Because of this and after my sons wedding, I had an idea to do an events business based on people.
My dream was to give others the wedding that I had never had. Surely there were people who could never afford the high price of events, floral designs or photographers? I believed in myself enough to go into business. I knew these people existed I just had to find them.
Within weeks of going LIVE with a website, I was contacted by Discovery TV about doing a show because my business was so different. Sadly, I had never used Skype and the interview was awkward at best. We were told to “show us your big personalities” on the Skype interview but had no real idea what that meant. Frankly, Carmen should have better prepared us for the Skype call but, didn’t.
Over the years, I’ve signed with 6 production companies, filmed a television pilot called The Pawning Planners with my family and last year, filmed with my twin sister and twin granddaughters for a inspirational new show called This Time Next Year on Lifetime TV. Yes. We now know how to show our big personalities ya all! We aren’t intimidated by cameras in our faces or microphones in our bras or even cameras in our suvs. My twin sister and I can walk in front of cameras and lights as easily as we can change shoes!
We have also learned how to Skype and have travelled the world doing destination weddings and events as well as estate liquidations, rent parties, Baptisms, memorials, vow renewals, fence parties, baby showers and a host of other creative requests that continue to surprise us including Texas Prison Weddings.
What started as an idea to reach the families no one else was willing to help became a movement for my family and I. A journey to “change the wedding and events industry one family (or barter) at a time.”
Sure, we rebranded and expanded a few times to make everything work but at the end of the day, we worked it out as a TwinTeam.
Creating an inventory to loan clients also made us different but, I was an experienced floral designer and knew the cost of flowers. My twin sister and I also make custom Brooch bouquets and sell them at Texas Twins Treasures. Please allow 6-9 weeks for custom designs.
Loaned bouquets and bouteniers along with ring pillows, flower baskets, cake stands and more are just one of the reasons our clients choose Texas Twins Events.
Bartering? You bet. If clients can’t afford low cost options at Texas Twins Events, they barter through The Pawning Planners. We do Events differently!
I’ve finally found my calling in life and the best part of my journey is finding time to spend with my family…perhaps getting here was different but my “learning curve” was my ability to survive throughout the struggles that I faced.
The families we’ve met, the stories we’ve heard and the journeys we’ve shared will soon be available on Kindle in our documentary based book “Paying It Forward-The Pawning Planners Philosophy.”
Comments by Wendy Wortham