The Lady With Balls

Another Book Similar to 

The Lady with Balls

May 20, 2020

Julissa Arce’s My (underground) American Dream reminds me of The Lady with Balls. Julissa, a Mexican beauty, was an undocumented immigrant till her mid-twenties. She falsified her social-security information, and I falsified my W-2. We both committed felonies so as to operate successfully in the business world, which would otherwise have been impossible. The two of us suffered extreme anxiety and sleepless nights for fear these illegal acts would be discovered. Julissa dreaded the prospect of deportation and I feared jail, painful and humiliating outcomes.

As teenagers, we were disappointed that our parents were either unable or unwilling to help us fulfill our dreams. Julissa had expected a lavish quinceañera in the same opulent Mexican hotel where her sister had been presented. I had dreamed of living in a dorm on a college campus, which my younger brother enjoyed to the fullest. Both Julia’s and my parents pled “unaffordable.” On top of Julissa’s shattered fantasy, she was devastated to learn that, due to her illegal status, she’d be unable to visit her beloved extended Mexican family because she lacked authorization to reenter the U.S.

My parents decided to limit their pricey expenditures to braces and a wedding for me and a stellar college education for my brother. Julissa, born in 1983, had parents with the more modern idea that a girl’s education was as important as a boy’s. Her parents valued education so highly that their daughter’s schooling was worth any sacrifice. They had great expectations for Julissa, whereas my parents’ top priority was that I remain a virgin till marriage.

We both witnessed our parents’ financial woes and envisioned ourselves as adults making enough money to solve such problems. We both achieved our lucrative business-career goals despite our worries of great shame and an upended life should our illegal behaviors be exposed. These stresses accompanied our too many working hours plus the everyday pressures of climbing to success amidst fierce competition.

Julissa and I suffered betrayals from men formerly considered marriage material. When Julissa discovered her guy was a two-timer who planned to move in with another woman, she confronted him and threatened to reveal his duplicity. She had previously trusted him with the secret of her undocumented status, and he said that if she told his preferred lady of their relationship, he would report Julissa to the authorities. Her heart and pride were broken. My injury included not only heart and pride but also my checkbook. My fiancé and I partnered in a business, and he stole from our business checking account. Julissa’s humiliation was more private than mine, as all my employees learned about the embezzlement before I did.

The next significant man in Julissa’s life was an exemplary fellow. When she confessed her big secret to him, he said he loved her and proposed marriage so she could get a green card. Initially, the marriage was a happy one, but the strain of geographically distant careers broke their relationship. I too admit assistance from a man in my life. He was the polar opposite of exemplary, but one bit of his advice led to my successful career: I heeded his suggestion to ask my industrial contacts what they needed but couldn’t get. When one man answered that his company needed baler wire, the seed of my business was planted.

Eventually, Julissa became a legal immigrant and then a US citizen, and I finally earned enough to proudly present an accurate-to-the-penny W-2. For different reasons, we both burned out from chasing the almighty dollar, and both of us chose to settle into more fulfilling lives.

How important do you consider your earning capacity?

Have you reached your financial comfort level?

Do you have more rewarding goals than a high-roller lifestyle or a glittering pile of money?

Or, are you now struggling to make ends meet and prepared to postpone personal fulfillment till you hit that comfort level?

Books Similar to The Lady with Balls

May 5, 2020

Here are three books that are similar to The Lady with Balls:

Grit by Angela Duckworth has the same theme: perseverance in working toward one’s goal despite all obstacles, whether self-imposed or environmental. My story illustrates many mistakes—both in romance and business. Of the two, my learning curve was faster in business; once I became aware of a fiscal or marketing error, I didn’t repeat it. To overcome our blunders, we have to acknowledge our ill-chosen actions or failure to act. I soon grew aware of my inept business dealings, but was slow-witted regarding my love life. Vulcan Wire was earning a decent income within two years of its inception, but it took me fifteen years to find Mr. Right.

One of my many Mr. Wrongs rightly said, “Alice, I used to think you were really smart, but now I know better. You’re not so smart. You just work hard.” There are examples of similarly successful people in Duckworth’s Grit. Early in the book, she postulates that, in addition to hard work, grit also implies that you don’t give up. She writes, “At various points, in ways big and small, we get knocked down. If we stay down, grit loses. If we get up, grit prevails.”

Tara Westover’s Educated is an in-depth story of perseverance. Her obstacles came largely from her overly religious parents. When Tara was six, the Waco debacle swayed her patriarchal father to further distrust everything related to government, including public schools. Tara’s mother only sporadically home-schooled Tara, who was embarrassed and frustrated that she couldn’t read. In contrast to girls who strove to impress their parents via academic achievements, Tara secretly educated herself with help from an older brother. Tara was awarded a scholarship, and earned a PhD in history.

My parents wanted me to earn a BA, but were unwilling to pay tuition for as prestigious a university as the one my brother attended; and regarding my entrepreneurial endeavors, they were less than encouraging. When, as a teen, I was paid extremely well for a tough babysitting job, Mommy forced me to return 70 percent of the money. She didn’t care that I was willing to do future work only if I was paid what it was worth. “You value money too much, Alice Marie,” she said. “You just aren’t my daughter.” I was dejected, but the children’s mother suffered even more: no other local sitters appreciated her high wages enough to watch those monsters.

Maid chronicles Stephanie Land’s early life, which was akin to my rags-to-riches situation. Both of us were impoverished single mothers. Stephanie did a lot of dirty work to reach her goal of a BA in English and creative writing. In her best-selling memoir we learn about her experience of poverty, homelessness, and earning her living as a cleaning lady. The Lady with Balls details my efforts as a former food-stamp recipient to build a business from the ground up and develop it into a multimillion-dollar corporation, despite the opposition of a predatory competitor. Like Tara Westover and me, Stephanie got some helpful breaks from people who admired her resolve.

For more books like The Lady with Balls: A Single Mother’s Triumphant Battle in a Man’s World, please come back and visit to my blog on Wednesday, May 20.

In the meantime, let me know if you’ve read any of the above mentioned and agree they relate.


April 15, 2020

For those of us not on the front lines to combat COVID-19, let’s make a gift of our additional time and be creative with our newly acquired spare minutes or hours. That includes those now working from home who are no longer commuting and polluting the air or merely wearing down electric batteries and shortening their vehicles’ lifetimes. Let’s enjoy our pristine air, even if it’s only from our balconies or steps from our doorways.

Because I’m seventy-eight and semi-retired, I’ve slowed down from my energetic self of previous years and no longer work over forty hours weekly. I do, however, miss driving here and there and social engagements. In place of those, I walk, hike, and cook more—but also eat restaurant food as much or more by ordering takeout. My reading—a book every five days—hasn’t increased, but time digesting newspapers and viewing the stock market certainly has. Those of us who can either adapt our jobs to our homes or merely continue to work from home offices as I do should count our blessings. Also fortunate are those in essential businesses with little or no danger of infection.

My business, Vulcan Wire, is lucky it’s essential to supermarkets, box manufacturers, and recyclers. That’s because all three need baler wire to condense their excess cardboard: 1) If a supermarket’s used boxes weren’t condensed into bales and transferred to a recycler, then there would be an overflow disallowing room for groceries; 2) If the box manufacturers who supply needed boxes to the supermarkets and other essential operations were unable to bale and transfer their cardboard scraps, their factories and warehouses would be overwhelmed; and 3) If the recyclers weren’t supplied with the extra-strong wire needed to further condense their smaller bales into the size and weight required by businesses that utilize used boxes and scraps of box material, their property couldn’t contain the small unsellable bales.

Our headquarters, a 7,000-square-foot office and overflow warehouse, is now inhabited by only three employees; the others are working from home. Thanks to rotating shifts, our 14,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and warehouse is also physically manned by a small crew. In all cases, it’s easy for everyone to maintain six-foot distances from each other.

Our Vulcan team is grateful to have nearly the best of all possibilities. I write “nearly” because our customers purchase on credit, and many of them are closing down or are experiencing weakened sales. Despite the government’s assistance, we anticipate an excess of bad debts. Currently, however, our sales aren’t down because half of our customers are supermarkets, which are gobbling up more baler wire than ever before.

As with everyone else not on the front lines of danger, we at Vulcan applaud the brave warriors who report to work despite the risk. Of course, we’re especially grateful for the bravery and generosity of the people who are helping free of charge.

Now is the time to email and call neglected, but valued, friends and make sure they’re COVID-19 free. One plus is that social time on the computer and telephone is less fattening than socializing. Eating more healthfully and additional outdoor time has helped me fit comfortably into my formerly too-tight clothing.

My husband and I have an energetic dog, Radar, who not only accompanies us outdoors but also amuses us indoors. If you’re an animal lover and can afford to pay for their care or find reciprocal dog or cat-sitting partners, arrange to get a pet from your nearest animal shelter. To date, neither dogs nor cats are known to be coronavirus carriers.

Facebook and other social media are great escapes for the extraverts, but what about those who are social media saturated? What about trying to get lost in a good book? I hope you’ve read my book, The Lady with Balls: A Single Mother’s Triumphant Battle in a Man’s World.  If you haven’t, you can easily find it online or in any bookstore. It’s available in print, audio and e-book. In my next blog I’ll present a list of books that relate to The Lady with Balls.

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