It Took Over My Entire Life

In my last post, I revealed plans to move to primarily an online presence around mid-year, after the spring shows are done, and I talked about cutting back the product line I keep on hand. Neither of those were easy decisions to make. I have come to really enjoy getting out and meeting people at the shows, talking to them about my soaps, and being able to offer a wide product line. However, as my hope to make this a viable business started to wane, I began to resent certain aspects of running it. Between resentment and disappointment, the joy began to seep out of the entire process, and that’s where the depression started.

I am no stranger to depression; I’ve dealt with it off and on for a good portion of my life. And really, I think everyone deals with depression at some point in their lives, some of us becoming clinically depressed, and some of us dealing with just plain old depression. But regardless of how it’s classified, I almost always realize that I’m depressed when I lose interest in doing things. The one that usually gets my attention is when I have the desire to sew or quilt, but not the ability. I realized last week that I had a problem when I thought about making a quilt but then decided it was too much work to clean up the studio. It’s not really that bad to begin with; there are some things on the cutting table that I need to put away but it’s not like I’m walking hip deep in crap or anything. I thought at first that maybe I was tired, but it happened again. And again. And then yesterday, before I made the decisions about the business, I thought that sewing would be a great way to take my mind off of my troubles, but I realized that the business has sort of sucked the joy out of sewing, too. As I sat here thinking about it, I realized that what I really need to do is create boundaries with my business. Even a smaller scale operation will get out of hand if I let it – and I think that’s where my primary issue is in the first place. I try to do more than I can, and that stresses me out, which then begins to wear on me, and after a while I find myself where I am now – depressed and irritated and wishing I’d never started a business in the first place.

Chris and I were talking about this yesterday, and we agreed that it’s out of hand. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, my work space when I started this business was my office. My desk was in there, and I cut and stored the soap there, too. When I started with the embroidery business, I needed a place to store the blank products, so I installed three large plastic shelves (think garage storage) in our bedroom. Somewhere around September, I realized that there wasn’t really enough space in the office for everything, so I started to store some of my soap in the hallway between my studio and the garage, which leads to my studio. By the end of the year, I’d moved my “office” space to the studio, and started to turn the former office in to a storage room. But that wasn’t enough space, either, so now a good chunk of stuff is in my studio, and under the bar in our dining area, not to mention the wagon I have that holds my big pails of oil. Every time I turn around, I’m out of space, and the business has taken over half of the downstairs area, and moving up the stairs in to our bedroom. There is not a place anywhere in this house that I can get away from it, because everywhere I go, every place I look, there’s some bit of my business.

And because I require the use of a stove and sink (and sometimes the oven), my kitchen is always in use, either by my business, or to prepare meals. I don’t do both at the same time – one is done before the other begins – but it creates a LOT of dishes to be done, and sometimes I feel like I am NEVER done with cleaning the kitchen. There have been days when I have done dishes six times and still couldn’t keep up completely.

I want – I NEED – to claw back space that shouldn’t be used for business, and to create areas of my home where it’s just not acceptable to store business related items. I was so gung ho for a while there, I lost sight of the need to maintain a work-free zone for myself and my family. It’s going to take time to get to the point where I’ve “de-businessed” areas, because I’m not going to just throw that stuff away or donate it. But my current goal is to not add to the mess by buying more things I need to store. I will be doing some embroidery work on some t-shirts in the hopes that I can sell some of them at upcoming shows, in my Etsy shop and on my website, so keep your eyes open for them.

 

In to the home stretch

Today, I’m starting my last week of employment with my current company. While I’ve got a plan for the future, I’m still a little nervous. I feel like I’m jumping off the deep end, working without a net … taking unusual risks that I normally wouldn’t take, at least not with my livelihood. And yet, I feel like it’s the right thing to do. It’s definitely time to move on from Corporate America and take the next step.

However, all of this change and upheaval have taken a toll on my studio time. I just have not been focused enough to do anything in there lately. I have the Cat in the Hat quilt in the process of being free motion quilted, but I haven’t felt the pull to work on it lately. I haven’t been able to focus on anything creative because I felt the need to nail down a plan of action on my career first. I did some fabric dyeing in yellow, which turned out quite well, in my opinion.

Deep Yellow Fabric Dyeing

As far as my career goes, I’m registered for a couple of “spring late start” classes at the local community college. It feels weird to be going back to school now, but I think that getting the accounting courses completed and sitting for the CPA (and possibly the CPB – Certified Public Bookkeeper) exam is the right thing to do. I’m going to be starting my own bookkeeping business on a part time basis at first, then once I’ve gotten my certification(s) out of the way, I’ll expand to a full time business. I’m doing a weekend seminar in March on how to start and run a successful and profitable small business. I’ve got my summer classes planned out, even though I have another month before I can register for them. Once I had all this worked out, I began to feel far more confident about my impending unemployment. In fact, I’m really beginning to look forward to it!

One thing I have realized, though, is that I need to be sure I have regularly scheduled things to do, because if I don’t I have a tendency to want to just sit around doing a whole lot of nothing. OK, maybe not nothing, but I do not need to sit around for hours several days a week to read books, or crochet or knit. I can do those things in the evenings, while watching tv, or in lieu of watching tv. I don’t really have anything specifically planned until  my classes start in March, so until then, I’m going to take a couple of classes on my new Pfaff sewing machine, do my spring cleaning, make some things that I might decide to sell, and spend time working on a business plan. I also intend to make myself some clothing and spend some time with family.

Hopefully, my next post won’t be about work stuff, and I can share some new projects I’m working on, or have finished!