Lessons Learned

2011 is a year that will stand out in my mind as a year of major change and growth.  Some of it is really so unbelievable that I keep finding myself looking back in awe of how life unfolds.  Through the highs and the lows, I've learned so much about myself and life in general that I know I can never go back.

I've always been a hard worker (credit to my parents) who grew up thinking that if I worked really, really hard, I can make things happen.  And to a huge degree, I believe this works.  It's worked for me in terms of my business/career.  But I've also come to believe there are no coincidences and that sometimes, no matter how hard you work, if it's not in the cards, it's just not in the cards. And that in itself happens for a reason. We've endured four layoffs/pay cuts since 2003.  Obviously, that's a lot of stress on a marriage and on a family.  It's so hard to put into words the kind of fear you feel when you're faced with worrying about paying for food/heat/housing. Unless you've lived through it, it's very difficult to grasp.  You're thrown into a panic state-of-mind which doesn't allow you to really trust that it's all playing out the way it's supposed to and that there's a bigger plan in place.  It took a lot of work for me to balance my "go-getter, make-it-happen, work hard, OMG we're gonna have to live in my parents basement if things don't change!"mode that I'm used to operating in with my more faith-based, intuitive side that was screaming at me to trust without proof.   This year has been all about that balance and releasing the fear.  Turns out, I'm equal parts analytical and intuitive.  Only now, I let the intuitive side call the shots more.

In 2011, we endured losses on all fronts.  Jobs. Friends. Loved Ones.  It was so difficult, and still is to some degree, to understand why giving all that you have at a particular moment isn't enough.  On a cognitive level, I may never really be able to wrap my brain around it.  But in my heart and spirit, I know that what is meant to be will be. Even if it doesn't make sense and is terribly painful at the time.  I'm learning to release old wounds, pains, and fears but at the same time, be thankful I endured them. We've been lucky to have found wonderful friends over the years, even those with whom we no longer communicate.  Those friendships shaped us and made us who we are today. 

In 2011, we also received so many gifts in the form of amazing family support, friendships we cherish, "gifts" that virtually came out of nowhere, a deeper understanding of what it means to have faith, and more time with our precious, amazing kids.  I don't want to leave out the other brave children that have taught me so much about life and courage.  One in particular, by the name of Amber, will always have a place in my heart.  While I know she believes I helped her immensely, I want her to know it is really the other way around.

While I know 2012 will bring more challenges on a global level; more than we've seen in years. I know I'm in a better place to handle whatever our little pocket of the world endures. Turns out for me, balance is truly the key.  But not the kind of balance most moms talk about when juggling work and kids.  The kind of balance that forces you to listen more carefully to your intuition and know that whatever happens, it will all be OK.
**I'm going to take a bit of time off starting this Friday to spend the holidays with my family.  Unless there's a "wood emergency," I promise to get back to an email or phone call after the New Year.  Of course, orders will still be taken and customer service questions/issues answered right away. :)** 



Mom Of The Year FORGOT to attend a school function on Friday for Grace.  Every year, her elementary school has an All School Picnic where parents can come for lunch and hang out on the lawn with their kids.  I've managed to make every one of them since 2006 but this year was different.  I just plain forgot.  I even had it scheduled in my Blackberry to remind me but the damn device must also feel like it's on overload because it locked up prior to noon and rebooted itself long after the event was over, when the buzzer for "All School Picnic" rang out loud and clear.  My heart sank picturing Grace at school sobbing because neither parent showed up when we made it clear one of us would be there.  Turns out, she was tear-less (until she saw me after school, of course), happy, and running around with friends.  Oh, and sometime before the end of the one-hour picnic, she had enough time to make a Christmas card that said, "You Ditched Me."  I couldn't have written it better myself.  All I could say was, "I'm so sorry.  I screwed up."  I, of course, felt horrible that I unintentionally ditched my third grader but I have to say, it did make me think about this overload mode I'm spending more and more time in.

As you know from a previous post, I'm homeschooling my 7th grader until the end of this school year due to unforeseen circumstances.  In all honesty, it's something I NEVER saw myself doing but it's going pretty well so far and knowing that we both understand it's just until the end of May, we make it work.  Then in between all of that, I'm managing all aspects of Mod Mom Furniture which includes marketing, invoicing, order intake, operations, growth, international distribution, taxes, some finishing of toy boxes, and all the media stuff.  Holy cow, keeping up social media alone is a full-time job.   And now you see why even my Blackberry said, "screw it - it's too much."

Every year since 2007, I work my tail off through Christmas, barely taking a day off even though the kids are off school. I'm not saying this to sound all "higher than thou."  It's just a fact that if you run your own business, you have to do it all. And last year,  I had to do all of the production as well.  This year will be different.  I'm learning that I can't control the economy or how quickly Mod Mom Furniture grows in light of the economy so I'm giving up control.  Letting the universe take over in that department.  And I'm letting go of the pressure to make all the right moves.  Clearly, I'm messing up left and right anyhow (i.e., you ditched me) so I'm embracing that and learning from it.

The State of Overload is a crappy place to live. I'm vowing that as soon as my kids are officially off school, so am I.  I've never done that in all my years of working. I'm going to service the immediate needs of my company but first and foremost, I'm going to do fun stuff with my family, bake cookies, watch movies, spend time with friends, and in general, just let it all go. I'm ditching the little voice that says, "But you have to keep going to get ahead or everything will fall apart. People are counting on you."

This morning, as Grace was walking out the door to school with Scott, she called out to me "Don't forget this (pointing to herself) today after school." "I won't, hon," I shot back. Partially because I'm moving out of overload and partially because I've set three very loud alarms to remind me to pick her up at 2:55pm. 
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.
~ Elbert Hubbard