Giving Thanks, 2014 Edition

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, a day to consider how we are blessed (in a fortunate way/not simply a “Christian” way) and a day to consider – honestly – just how lucky we are.

It would be easy for me to say that 2014 has sucked so far, and ask The Universe just where the hell my “blessings” are.

In August 2014, I closed my business after almost seven years of (literally) blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. The closing of my business was a bit devastating emotionally and certainly was, and continues to be, somewhat crushing financially as well. With the closing of my business came my return to the employment market as a job SEEKER – I hadn’t “filled out an application” in more than probably twenty years; each of my jobs before opening my own business was the result of scouting by my then-future employer – I got ASKED to work with them. Reciting my high school GPA and “Other Interests” was something very alien and foreign to me.

The summer and fall of 2014, I stood by and watched as state after state achieved marriage equality, while my state CONTINUES to maintain an almost pre-Stonewall attitude around this issue. And earlier this month, somehow my state granted the madman that is our governor the power of four more years to destroy our state. And don’t even ask me about what happened in the Senate.

Probably saddest, in October of 2014, I lost my father, my beloved Pop-pop, to a long and valiant battle with cancer. I lost Grammy (my mom) six years ago and, during the time since, my Dad and I had become closer than ever; in fact, it was like getting to know him all over again. I called Pop-pop every day. I miss him, and I miss my Mom. A lot. A well-intentioned friend called me an “orphan” upon finding out my Pop-pop had passed away. I am NOT an orphan. I have two AMAZING parents – they are just away from me now, for the time being. They are now two amazing guardian angels.

Those are just the “highlights” of 2104 for me but – you know what? The year has been pretty great to me as well…

While I closed my business, I embarked on not one but TWO new endeavors, one at a cherished public institution in my adopted hometown and one in a new design venture with a new partner who is, in fact, my husband. Both careers look bright and, while I am “starting on the ground floor” at both, good things are already happening at each. Two days ago, I got promoted at “my day job” and assumed a new position within the organization, a position that suggests career growth and a stable, secure future. As far as my new design venture goes, working with my life partner/husband is a joy and our new firm is already developing a following. Hooray!

Even though Ohio (my state) is in The Dark Ages as far as marriage equality goes, I am legally-married to my husband and we will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of his Green Card approval (that was a L-O-N-G journey/struggle, chronicled in many previous posts here on this blog). If it is possible, I think that guy loves me more every day – and I love him more, too. Eventually, Ohio will “see the light” and finally join the 21st Century with regard to LGBT rights and equality.

Finally, while I miss BOTH my parents every day, I am happy to know that they are reunited and happy. And contrary to what I feared, being “parent-less” has not left me feeling rudderless or adrift. Rather, I feel empowered and almost a bit reckless (but in a good way). The state of answering only to yourself for your actions (and your spouse, of course!) is actually a very liberating one. I like it. I miss Grammy and Pop-pop terribly but the freedom they have given me is a great, great gift.

So all in all, 2014? Maybe NOT so bad so far… Sure, heck – I hope 2015 will be even better but we still DO have almost a month of 2014 left. Who knows? It may still turn out to be the best year ever…

It’s funny. I was looking for a profound, “deep” quote about being thankful and ran across this sage advice from Oprah Winfrey herself. Who’da ever thought I’d be sharing inspiring Oprah quotes on my blog? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Oprah

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Chill Out

On Sunday, 31 August 2014, my (I guess) now-ex business partner and I dismantled what was left of our retail store. We labored like dogs for several hours, cleaning and recycling and just donating odds-n-ends. The day was emotionally and physically exhausting. I missed my blog post on Saturday (last night) – the first one in 604 days – partially because I was exhausted and fell asleep at like 8:30 PM and partially (mostly?) because I was “blue.”

My retail store lasted six years, ten months and fourteen days. It challenged me mentally, physically and most definitely financially. Like the classic novel says, “It was the best of times and the worst of times.” Sometimes all in the same day.

I need a day or so to chill out a bit; I hope you will all understand. See you back here soon. Thanks…

chill out

What? Really?

My Mom always used to say, “If you don’t know what to say, sometimes it’s better to just say nothing.” I agree.

With today’s public announcement of the closing of the retail store I helped open with a business partner almost seven years ago, I have been alternately touched and (honestly) a little offended by the comments some folks have made… As far as the many sincere, sweet and kind emails and texts I have received – checking in to see if I was OK, and “Rah-Rah’ing” me on to “bigger and better” in the future – I would like to say “Thanks.” 

To others, who either lack the necessary social and life skills to make conversation around an event as serious and “big” as closing a small business, or are just innocently insensitive, I ask that maybe you think before you speak. Some sample remarks I received today:

After reading an eblast/Facebook/Twitter post that all my store’s merchandise was now on final close-out for 50% off, one well-intentioned person shared that maybe “Now they would finally come in and check my new-but-closing store out and grab some sale stuff.” (We have been at our “new” location for over fifteen months).

really bw

Hey, listen – I’m glad my “going-out-of-business sale” makes shopping affordable AND drives you to find time to support local, independent retailers.

Or how about this back-handed compliment: “I am sorry to hear you are closing but am truly amazed you lasted this long. I thought you would close a year or so after you opened.”

really red

Wow. Thanks for sharing that compliment. I am going to pretend you meant to say something like this (but it came out all wrong): “I admire your ability and determination to make your business successful for as long as you have, given the overwhelming challenges small business owners face.”

And finally, this question was the best. With no “Sorry you are closing” or any other sympathetic remarks, I had a friend email me and ask if “…I wait until your last day of business, will the discounts go any lower? I’d gamble on something I want still being there on the last day, especially if you are going down to like 90% off.”

really!

Hey, News Flash – why don’t you wait till the last day, come in – hoping to get something for 90% off, THEN pay for your purchase with your platinum AmEx and ask if we “gift wrap.” Ass.

While I don’t think any of the comments above were made maliciously, I have to ask myself: WTF are people thinking when they open their mouths? I mean, Jesus – closing a business is just about as devastating as losing a loved one to death. Cut me some slack, people, and please THINK before you speak…

Sigh… Glad I got that off my chest. Thanks for listening. And BTW – only the RETAIL component of my store is closing, in part to give my partner and I more time to pursue and develop our growing interior design practice. So, yeah – please wish us luck!

2013 – A Brief Review

Here it is, the first day of 2014. Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fun New Year’s celebration and that we are all blessed with a great 2014! As it is the first day of the new year, I feel like a bit of reflection on the past 365 is in order…

ListNo need to grab a pencil and paper – note-taking is not necessary, LOL!

One year ago today, I began my year-long 365 Blog Project, the goal being to blog at least once a day for an entire year. I am happy to report that I met that goal, with a few additional posts along the way. An entire year of my life, documented in words and images, for posterity to enjoy (as long as WordPress exists, LOL!) I must admit – 2013 was quite a year for me…

My opening blog entry described my beloved Martin as my “life-partner.” I am now pleased to share that he is LEGALLY my HUSBAND. Through a serious of long-overdue legal events in 2013, Martin and I were finally able to legally wed in New York state in August 2013, on our fifth anniversary of being a couple. It was – without a doubt – the single, most significant event of 2013, and my life, period. I love that guy…

heart feetThe day of our wedding, my feet left and Martin’s right, standing on a heart-adorned manhole cover in Jamestown, NY, 08 August 2013 – minutes after becoming husband and husband!

And as a result of those legal changes, we are in the final stages of acquiring a green card for Martin, so we no longer have to fear being torn apart because of America’s ridiculously outdated and discriminatory immigration laws. I thank The Universe every day that these changes happened. It truly was a blessing and life saver for couples like us.

In 2013, my business partner and I also relocated our design studio and office. That was a hella’ pain in the ass, but necessary and, so far? A good decision.

Opening PicOur signature green on a wall, me sporting some serious googles and my business partner manning the U-Haul Truck, That’s right – we got swagg…

I am hoping that The Universe will continue to shine on BOTH these endeavors for me and that 2014 will be the best year, both personally and professionally, for me ever. Now, a few more highs and lows from 2013.

In 2013, I lost two friends who had never met one another but were both special to me. Both passages left me stunned and opened my eyes to how quickly life can change. It reminded me to never take one minute of living for granted. Wendy, Dan? I will miss you and remember you always.

That said, to prove The Universe is fair and just, I welcomed two NEW lives into mine in 2013 – my great nephew, Emmitt, and Martin’s first niece, Amelka. Both are beautiful, amazing children (aren’t ALL children beautiful and amazing though?) and these two little boogers reminded me to always see the beauty in every moment. To watch a baby discover that s/he can, I don’t know, clap or laugh or talk – it is moving, it is amazing, it is a miracle. I am thankful for these two new little miracles in our lives.

two flowersThese flowers represent the two new flowers in our lives, Amelka and Emmitt.

My family and friends continue to be loving and supportive of my relationship, my business and me, so I don’t know if I could ask for more.

I did suffer from an extended period of deep depression from late July thru mid September of last year. I think there were a number of factors that prompted that episode but I managed to (finally) pull out of it and am now as positive and optimistic as I have ever been. Thanks to everyone that helped me through, especially my dear Martin. He is my guardian angel on earth.

My goal to lose 55 pounds in 2013 was, as they say, an epic failure. All told, I have a net weight loss for all of 2013 of 2.4 pounds. Not my best effort but I have recommitted and am confident that 2014 will be a banner year in “healthy living” for me. Stay tuned…

feet on scalesNot my feet (although I wish that were my weight!) And could this guy use a pedi or what?

While I know there will be more reflection and thoughts on 2013, that is enough for now. As far as the whole 365 Blog Project goes, I feel I succeeded 100%+ – and actually have come to love blogging. It is relaxing and definitely a bit cathartic for me. Going forward in 2014, I am not sure if my blog direction will narrow, maybe being more design or relationship focused, or if I will continue to be scattered around all over the place.

I’m thinking scattered…

In any event, THANK YOU for being on this journey with me. THANK YOU for helping change the world thru your actions and commitments (I like to think that I generally inspire others). And most of all, THANK YOU for just being. One of my personal resolutions for 2014 is to acknowledge that I am unique and rare and special. We are ALL unique and rare and special – give that to yourself, own it and embrace it. We are all in this together so let the journey into 2014 begin…

start

Thankful Thursday

Feelings of thanks and gratitude spring from many different situations, sometimes many different situations. Take my day today, for example…

Today, my business partner and I got to enjoy lunch with a friend we knew from “the old neighborhood.” She is a lovely woman and a lot of fun – it was great catching up and “shooting the breeze.” For the opportunity to enjoy lunch today with friends, I am thankful.

place_settingThis afternoon, we landed another contract to do a home office for one of our favorite, ongoing design clients. It’s definitely not a HUGE job, but we really like the couple, they are fun to work with, they have awesome taste (YEAH!) and they don’t live on the edge of The Universe. For the opportunity to continue working with great clients on a fun new project, I am thankful.

contemporary home officeTonight, I attended an educational open house at a local kitchen showroom with my business partner. We made some new contacts and learned a few new things – plus, they had a chef there serving THE most delicious food. Yum. For the opportunity to learn new things – and taste yummy food – I am thankful.

contemporary kitchenFinally, I am now home, with my beloved Husband (who is blogging in the next room!). He also had a very full but fun day and we are both exhausted. For the opportunity to live a full life, with the guy I love fully and with all my heart, I am thankful.

I am also thankful that today is almost over – great as it was/is, I am BEAT! Thankful Thursday? Time to hit the sheets!

cats

 

Finally…

For those “keeping score,” my life has been a bit of a roller coaster lately; however, that all changed today… Today, not only did my Beloved and I get some good news from our attorney (hooray! – more later), but my business partner and I “sealed the deal” with a substantial client (got a retainer), and arranged interviews with two more potential new clients…

finallyYou know that moment in movies, when the clouds part and rays of sunshine come streaming down – usually accompanied by some sort of  extended “AHHHH!” sound? I heard/felt that today for change. And I am glad…

Thank you, Universe! I knew you’d come through eventually – now, let’s keep that momentum going please! Please?

thank you

Dem Bones, Dem bones, Dem SORE Bones

According to the internet, the adult male human body has a skeleton comprised of 206 bones. Two. Hundred. Six. Today, all of mine A-C-H-E…SkeletonFor people who follow my blog, you remember I am currently moving my interior design and home furnishing and accessory boutique business to a new location and, so far, it has been exhausting… I mean, I shouldn’t complain.

My partner, Martin and my business partner, Scott, have been pretty-much killing themselves almost daily this past week, and for that I am very thankful (not about their near-death moments but because of all of their help). I have tried to be as much help as I can but, to be honest, I am not too “handy,” nor am I very “mechanical” or even very “strong.” I like to think I am relatively charming, and that is certainly a talent that comes in handy but I am no musclebound hunk or any sort of three-handed handyman. So, I contribute what I can and hope it is enough…

However, the question still remains: Why am I so tired?

imtired

Clearly, I am no “spring chicken” anymore but, OMG, it seems like just THINKING about working makes me tired… Thank God for Martin and Scott. If we all live through this move, I vow to get in better shape. Plus – if the move turns out to be as profitable as I hope/dream/pray it is, I can even hire a personal trainer. Woohoo!

Please cross your fingers – only NINE days till our re-opening. Or, as I like to think of it, 206 x 9 MORE aches and pains.  🙂