Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The struggle with victimhood continues. I’ve been trying to visualize success lately. It’s a good exercise for me. It’s been an uphill climb. Yesterday I finally gave up the battle for positive thinking. I decided to try something different. I let myself feel my feelings.

I took out a notebook and wrote for awhile. I gave up on being positive and just wrote every blunt fear and resentment. I cried, I gritted my teeth, and I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. Those of you who’ve done psychotherapy will recognize the process. Eventually I got to a surprising new perspective.

When I was a little girl, I often found myself feeling responsible for my younger brothers. It was usually when my mother was at work and my alcoholic father was tasked with watching us. There wasn’t a whole lot of watching going on from him, so I took it upon myself to watch my brothers. I couldn’t do much, but I could make sure we were all safe.

One incident symbolizes this time for me. My youngest brother was approximately 8 months old. He was at the age where he crawled everywhere and pulled himself up to a standing position by holding on to furniture. That means that I must have been about 4 years and 8 months old. (Our birthdays are close together.) My other brother was 3 years old.

My 3 year old brother and I were playing a game in the living room, when I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where the baby was. My father was sound asleep in his bed. I looked around frantically for the baby and soon found him in the kitchen. He had apparently crawled out there, then pulled himself up by the stove and turned the dials. When I went out there, he sat down in front of the stove and happily watched the flames that were consuming a plastic cup on the stove and reaching almost to the ceiling. I ran to my father and woke him up. He quickly put out the fire and life went back to normal.

When I’ve thought of this story over the years, I’ve felt a combination of relief and guilt. The guilt started that day, when I realized I’d lost track of the baby. It was my responsibility and I’d failed, which almost resulted in disaster. I remembered how utterly over my head I felt in those days. Whenever my mother was away, I felt a responsibility to take care of my brothers, yet I knew I had no idea how to do that. This feeling of being totally incompetent to care for myself and others, has persisted in my brain to this day. It’s the feeling that I have about money. I feel like death and disaster are always one mistake away.

Yesterday I finally realized that I am the hero of this story. Why hadn’t I seen that before? I struggled through overwhelming odds to do what I thought was right. I felt totally incompetent to do what needed to be done, but I tried anyway. That made all the difference. I averted disaster. I saved our lives. Seriously. At four years old, I saved our lives. I’m a hero. I'm going to try to remember that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As The World Turns

Lately, I’m struggling. I’ve been depressed. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I need to work more hours in my day job. This depresses me because I’ve found that I love having more time to work on my business. I’ve made great strides in working on the business, but I’m not selling more yet. I need money and I’m not getting it from the business, so I need to work more in my day job.

I suppose I set myself up for this. The idea that I would suddenly be able to increase sales in my business enough to replace paid employment, was a pipe dream. I’ve been in mourning for the loss of this dream. I’m writing about it a lot and allowing myself to feel the disappointment. I think it’s helping me to move through it, so I won’t be resentful when I start working more hours.

The truth is I’m lucky in a lot of ways. For one, I’m pretty sure I can get more work easily. I am healthy enough to work more. As soon as I bring in more income, I will have everything I need to continue living where I like to live, doing work I like. It isn’t a chore to do the work I do, except when I measure it against being able to do exactly what I want with every minute of my time.

I’m struggling to avoid feeling like a victim with this. I do need to feel the disappointment. I suppose that part of what I’m learning is to feel disappointment without feeling like a victim. That is new for me. I think that when I get through these feelings, I’ll be able to do what I need to do for myself without feeling resentful or victimized. It’s a good lesson.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Going Up

The word of the week is empowerment. I’m learning to empower myself. I’m not sure I know what that means, but it sounds like the opposite of where I’m coming from. It sounds like the opposite of what holds me back. I know the name of what holds me back. It’s called victimhood.

Now, this is not dumping on myself for coming from a place of victimhood. There are very good reasons why that’s my default posture. I had some experts training me to become a victim when I was growing up. It’s a legacy that was passed down from many quarters. I’ve made big strides away from it, but it still sneaks into my psyche when I let my guard down. I need to leave it behind.

I’ve been reading an ebook that has been very helpful with this issue in regards to my business. The title is "The Art of Earning", by Tara Gentile, subtitle "Because Making Money Should Be Beautiful." I love this book. It’s like a manual for going from victim to empowered business person. After a couple of reads, I took the momentous step of raising some of my prices.

I’ve raised my prices before. It’s scary at first and then it feels wonderful. This time, I had been trying to build up my inventory. I noticed that this was making me more and more depressed. It was taking too much effort for too little return. I didn’t think I could sell my stuff for more, but my hourly rate, if I ever sold enough, was hovering around $5 an hour for all the efforts that went into making and selling my products. That’s not enough.

I thought my prices were as high as I could ask, but then Tara said to “get out of the middle.” “ What does that mean?”, you may ask. It means stop trying to price your stuff in the middle of the pack. Oh.

To raise my prices, I need to see my work as valuable. A side effect is that it makes me want to work harder. When I value my work, I want to improve it. I want to see how good it can get. I want to deliver value for the higher prices I want to charge.

I forget about fear when I change my attitude in this way. It’s a startling contrast to my usual state of mind. I see how I’m usually cringing, feeling victimized by the impossibility of being valued for my work. It’s not impossible. I just assume it is. I need to change my fundamental assumptions so I can be successful. And happy. That’s what I really want – to be happy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

For Today

Well, my first two weeks as a half-time entrepreneur were interesting. I did a lot of work, but I can’t tell you what it was like. My mind was taken over by an obsessive anxiety attack. I didn’t sleep. I tried to work every waking minute. I checked my web site obsessively. No sales. If anyone had even thought about buying something from me, I’m sure that my fear and desperation were transmitted through the ether and scared them off. It was horrible.

I’m now in the process of trying to regain my sanity. I’m making self-care a higher priority. The tipping point was when I was trying to imagine what luxury meant to me. The answer was “a clean clutter-free home.” Hmmm. That may be something I could get even if I have no money. And the feeling of luxury might help with the blinding panic. So I’ve been working on that. It helps.

I’m finding other things that help too. I’m looking for advice from other business people. I’m looking to the spiritual advice that always helps me. This time to work on my business is validating for me that I do like to do this work. I’ve had days when I’ve been sure that no one would ever want to buy what I make and I’m a complete fool to think that they might, but I know that I’d enjoy it if I was successful.

I’ve decided to take things one day at a time. For today, I have everything I need. For today, I have plenty of time to work on my business and take care of myself. For today, life is pretty good and I’m going to enjoy it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Riding the Roller Coaster

I’ve been riding the emotional roller coaster this week. For example, yesterday I had my last shift caring for a client who is moving. I was sad all night. This morning I woke up in a full-blown panic attack over my decision to try to replace the income by expanding my quilting business. This afternoon I’m feeling happy and excited about finally having the time to work on my business. Life is not boring.

I think that the key to maintaining my sanity right now is to keep moving. Not in a frenzy, but deliberately. I’ve learned over the years that inertia is so much more dangerous than making mistakes.

I’m aware of the need to be careful with my time. I’m figuring out how that will work. It doesn’t look like what I would expect. When I’m tired I lay on the couch. Five minutes later I jump up, inspired for the next step in my current project. Paying attention to what I need in any moment is the best use of my time.

I worry when I look at the larger economy, but the universe is conspiring to urge me on this path. This morning I firmed up details for another custom order I got yesterday. Later, my physical therapist told me how she found that eventually one had to make the leap to spend time on a business for it to grow. The most encouraging sign of the day was the feeling I got from working on a sewing project. I’m making something beautiful and unique that the recipient will love. What better use of my time could there be?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Next Steps

My life is changing. I didn’t choose this particular change at this particular moment, but here it is. Next week I will be saying goodbye to a client that I’ve spent many hours with. I will visit her in her new home, but I will only visit. I’m very sad to be saying goodbye to her.

Almost immediately after I heard that this client was moving, I decided to use this change as an opportunity to test the viability of my business. I was excited, I was terrified, I was very worried about money. One thing I’m sure of is that when I’m paralyzed with worry about money, this worry is usually a smokescreen for whatever feelings I’m having. Rather than feel the sadness of saying goodbye to my client, I might panic about losing the work hours. I felt that happen a bit, but I knew what I was doing, so it didn’t continue for long. Awareness is a beautiful thing.

I have made plans for the business. I’ve already started working harder creating products to sell. I have a few custom orders that I’m working on. I’ve made a financial plan so I will know whether or not I’m successful enough to continue on this path. For the month of August, the plan is to get through the month, pay all my bills and don’t use any of the $2000 I have left in savings. It may work, it may not. If I reach the point where I need to spend some of my savings, I will need to find additional paid work – another client or two, another part-time job. I will do whatever I need to do to take care of myself.

Meanwhile, I’m percolating with ideas and energy for my business and I’m feeling the sadness as I say goodbye to my friend.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I’ve been buckling down on expenses lately. I’ve been more frugal with food. I’ve turned down or postponed several invitations to visit friends because I can’t afford the gas, airfare, time off from work, etc. It’s a good thing I’ve done that. I just found out that one of my homecare clients is moving so I’m losing 16 hours of work per week.

I’m very sad to lose this client. We’ve become very close over the past 3 ½ years. I will be able to visit her occasionally, but it won’t be the same. It’s also a financial issue.

My knee-jerk reaction was to feel panic about how I’m going to make up the income, but the panic subsided pretty quickly. I can probably get more clients from the agency I work for. I could get a part-time job at a nursing home or assisted living facility or another homecare agency. Or I could try to ramp up my business to make up the difference in income. Gulp.

I am excited and terrified in equal measure at the thought of trying to make my business support me. I’ve had enough success that I think it may be possible. I have enough experience to know that I’ll have to be much more dedicated and productive. All in all, it seems like a good opportunity to find out if I can generate enough regular income to live on. Yikes!

I have about two weeks to figure this out. That’s when my client is moving. It will be a melancholy two weeks as we say goodbye. It will also be exciting as I ramp up my business. My plan is to streamline my production to make larger quantities of my products. I’m timing myself as I do business tasks to see how long everything really takes. And I’ll be putting a lot more up for sale on my web site. Whether or not I make sales and how many sales I make, will tell me a lot. Wish me luck. I’m going to jump into the pool.