I’d like to take a couple minutes to write a little something about myself (other than what’s in the “about me” section, I mean). I’m not really sure what to say — especially since, at the moment, I am just writing to myself and for myself since no one even knows this blog exists.
Hrmm… now I’d like to take a couple minutes to say that I clearly took more than a couple minutes here and what follows is a wall of text. Think of this as a huge “cleansing” post. I promise not to do it again. But since I’m the only one who knows about this blog right now, it is quite tempting to treat it more like a diary. Just this once.
I guess I can tell you, whoever you are, that I have been meaning to open up an Etsy shop since about a trillion billion years ago. Yup. Way back then I got the idea that I could turn a hobby into a way to pay the bills. I’m going to be creating all kinds of stuff anyway so why not see if people might enjoy owning one of my handmade trinkets, right? Mostly I wanted a way to legitimize the embarrassingly large stash of fabric, jewelry findings, beads, and other “stuff” that I had collected over the years. In 2009 moved back to my home town after finishing a degree in Anthropology down in the bay area. I got a part-time job at the local college library and, since it was an evening shift, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me to spend my days being creative and making stuff to add to my online shop.
I am very much a library and research type, which is a nice way of saying that I over-think, over-plan and over-research things before I take the next steps (the next step is obviously to procrastinate and obsess over all the things that could go wrong). As you might imagine, I didn’t get around to making much let alone actually listing an item. I was too busy preparing to possibly maybe look into creating an Etsy account which I would then log into periodically, stare at, but not turn into a store. I read a ton of Etsy “success” stories, and poured over blogs that featured tips and tricks for online sellers. But that’s about it. My reason for inaction was always that I was getting REALLY well prepared so that everything would go perfectly. Yeah, sure.
Incidentally, I am now totally ok with admitting to the world that I was – and am – terrified to list anything because I don’t want to be disappointed; I don’t want to get bad feedback, or face the fact that the market is well saturated, or to find out that saying “I’m going to make money by doing something I love” is tantamount to saying “I’m going to fly to Mars, just by flapping my chubby little arms!” I am ready to admit the fear, but still not quite ready to face it. More on that later, I’m sure.
Somewhere during my over-long “researching” process, and not too long after I took on my part-time job, I met a nice man. Some months later, he asked me to marry him. He owned a beautiful house in the woods with lots of room for gardening, and the fact that he was self-employed meant that he could make his own schedule. We both wanted children, so we agreed that my part-time evening shift was perfect because it would allow me to be a mom and still keep working without us having to pay an arm and a leg for child care. Yay! I hoped that eventually I would be able to leave my day job and focus on being a mom who works from home making cool things that people are excited to own.
I had almost no time for being creative when we first started dating. I was too busy being infatuated. There was much fawning and daydreaming and being twitterpated to get done. I got it done real good. After our engagement, I was wedding-obsessed for about 10 months. Oh don’t get me wrong, I was making tons of stuff during that time: personalized wine charms for each guest, little bottles of bubbles decorated with ribbons in my wedding colors, a massive bunting for the buffet tent, crepe paper kissing balls, a table cloth and chair covers for the kids’ tea part table (I got a little over-ambitious and really gave myself too much work considering I had so few helpers). I was super stressed out. But somewhere in the back of my mind, each time I sat down to make wedding stuff, I thought about Etsy and how one day all the energy I was putting into my wedding would go into my precious shop.
After the wedding, I was still pretty pooped and not feeling particularly creative. I wanted to decompress and then get to being blissfully married. This did not happen. There wasn’t even time for me to take a deep breath, and instead of decompressing I just kept getting more bunched-up feeling because of the way things started to go. For reasons that I will definitely not get into here, things did not go well for my (now ex) husband and I after the wedding. I still do not like to write or type the d-word, let alone speak it. There’s so much stigma, so much shame attached. But we got d-worded after about a year and a half. The reasons are both really complicated and really simple. Either way, they are really not something I want to dwell on. So moving on…
Unfortunately — maybe? — I was laid off from my library job about a month after my husband filed for divorce. After working part-time for the past four years, doing a little over-spending on my wedding, and thinking “it’s ok, our house is paid for and our bills are few” I was completely unprepared to have to go out and pay rent again. I had NOTHING in savings. So here I was moving out of my ex-husband’s house as his new girlfriend and her kids were moving in, AND was losing my job with no money and nowhere to go (as an added bonus, one of my brothers was having serious health issues at the time). A couple other not-so-great things happened around then, things that messed with my head and made me feel unsure about my place in the world. I felt a lot of things, but creative was not one of them. I certainly didn’t feel the kind of caution-to-the-wind bravery that I would need to start a business.
That state lasted longer than it should have, I guess. I’m still upset about some of what happened, still financially unstable, and my brain is still having a hard time keeping itself neurochemically balanced enough to prevent periods of depression. But it’s been about a year and a half since I moved out of my ex-husband’s house, and about a year since the divorce was finalized. I’m feeling more creative again, and am able to look into my future and actually SEE a light at the end of the tunnel instead of just wanting to poke my eyes out.
I am now dating a wonderful man, a former library co-worker, who is supportive of me in absolutely every way (he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear, even when it’s something like “don’t sell yourself short, I have faith in you” because yeahno, I don’t do well with compliments or positive self-talk; these are things that make me cringe). Every time I’m overwhelmed, he comforts me, and every time I start to go “this is stupid, why would I think anyone is going to buy anything I make?” he tells me to shut the hell up. Well, he says it much nicer but he SHOULD tell me to shut the hell up. Seriously, sometimes I think if it were just up to me I would quit everything before I even started. It’s a good thing I have him to slap me in the face when I get stupid (again: he doesn’t do that — he’s nice, yet somehow still effective).
I try to think of my layoff as a blessing in disguise. It’s true that the work environment had become increasingly more toxic, and there was a culture of mistrust across the campus. Campus-wide budget problems, union problems, and overall morale problems made it difficult to enjoy my library work. As much as I loved my coworkers and (most of) my job, that place was causing me way more stress than I realized. I don’t know how long I might have stayed there if they hadn’t let me go. Many people have offered their sympathy since fining out that I lost my job, but I usually say something like “I think I got what I was supposed to get from working there, so I’m fine with moving on.” I am, of course, referring to my handsome hunk of man. We met at work, became fast friends, and although I never would have guessed in a million years that he would want me, I am so blessed to have found him. He’s helped me in more ways than I could ever explain.
I’ve done a lot of very hard work over the past year to rebuild my confidence, to find new ways to look at the bad things that have been happening, and to be thankful for what I have. I’m ready for something new, and I’m not scared of the change. I’m ready. I think. I mean, yes, I am. Probably. Argh!
So while I continue to look for a “day job”, I finally realized that in this economy — and definitely in the area where I live — good jobs are few and far between. I decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to use the time I’ve been given, no matter how terrified I am about my finances right now, to create things. It gives me something to focus on between job interviews, and being crafty is also very cathartic. So here I am, here is where it begins. I feel like this could be a real turning point for me.; maybe everything needed to be stripped away so that I could completely rebuild, maybe I needed to be plopped down in the middle of nowhere to start the journey I was meant to take. But no matter what, I feel like I’ve overcome a lot already. I’ve gone up the mountain. It was super hard and kinda scary but the view is amazing. I feel like I have a better idea of where I’m going now, so maybe this is just the way it had to happen.