Welcome to everyone who has joined this page this fall. The blog is my place where I allow myself the freedom to write and let you in on my journey, my successes, my struggles, my dreams. This is the space where you get to understand what drives me each day and why I make the choices I make. This is where my personal and professional lives finally become congruent; something I've been working towards for what feels like forever.
This fall I have received so many compliments on the website and people often tell me they appreciate my positive, spunky attitude. I take those remarks in complete stride and sometimes with a little giggle or smirk because little do people know how much hard work and struggle it has been for me to be here with this attitude.
Most people know that dreams do not come true without hard work and sacrifice. This year I have been completely living that. I dreamed about having my own little shop for many years, but I knew that I would never be in a place to simply up and quit my day job and go all out on my own. So, with the help of some of my friends, I began to build this little shop while on lockdown since I didn't have a day job. I had the time at home to brainstorm, create, and build, then do it all over again when things didn't feel quite right. After lockdown was lifted, I managed to find a new day job so I could pay the bills and keep my shop running. Suddenly I found myself juggling more priorities than ever and having to make many hard choices. How do I manage to work 20-30 hours a week helping manage a retail store, keep up with my website maintenance, online orders, social media, seeking out new opportunities for business partnerships and growth, maintain my living space and my relationships, and still find a way to manage all of my chronic health issues? Oh, and be sure I am eating right and getting enough water? Tough choices and the life lessons I have learned, that's how.
Remembering to put myself first is extremely hard when demands and expectations on me are high. Remembering to take medications at night so I can stay healthy can easily slip away. And water, what's that? Some days I simply have to accept that I cannot do more than get out of bed, make my coffee, and return to bed to deal with a migraine. Other days spending time with my family and friends just needs to happen (virtually now) because I need those connections as a release. And once in awhile my brain needs a complete Netflix binge (recently it has been Lucifer and MacGyver on CBS All Access) as a distraction from all of the difficult things happening in the world which I cannot control. I am learning that sometimes "just pushing through" is not the right answer for me. I know my body and the chronic conditions which it faces each day. I know that it often demands I listen to it, so sometimes that means simply telling people "Sorry, not today" and accepting that tomorrow's to-do list just got a little bit longer because today my body demands rest. I problem solve by breaking things down into smaller tasks that I can get done quickly as time allows throughout the day. Maybe I even stay up working one night really late or start really early in the morning after feeding the cats. Now, I am also learning to ask people I trust for help. Wow, that one is really hard.
This fall after asking for help, I found an intern to help manage my website (huge shout out and welcome to Francisca!). I brought my mom on to help me with my accounting needs. My friends at the pop-up have helped me maintain my booth when I can't make the half hour drive up to Northeast Minneapolis. Andrea has helped from Nicaragua when I need some graphic designs done for coffee events quickly, and given me words when I can't seem to find the proper ones myself. I've found a whole new network of resources, support, and friends in my Co-Starters business class, and these women inspire me so very much. And my small business group, Coimatan, led by Vasiliki, has helped me build so many amazing partnerships and connections to other small business owners who understand how hard the first few months and years are. All of these people show me they care and want to be with me on this path to make lives better for people around the world in need. Some of them have event been in very similar shoes when they started their own fair trade businesses years ago.
My own past experiences have taught me that some of the only things in life we can control are our attitudes and how we respond to situations. It is easier to focus on the little things that bring me joy, like my cats wearing their Global Mamas bandanas. Those are the things that I know will get me through the things I cannot control like COVID and all of the civil unrest this year. Having a positive attitude is sometimes the only option. I know that my sacrifices and tough choices are paying off. I see that more and more with each passing day as new opportunities arise and more reasons to smile cross my path. There will be a day, hopefully soon, when I get to really rest and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Until then I will keep slowly chipping away at the long to-do list, go to my day job to pay the bills, and allow myself to smile at the end of the day knowing I am taking the steps to do the right thing for myself and bring my life into full congruence by using my life experiences to help those around the world in need.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy Thanksgiving.