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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Challenge Accepted

Given all the upheaval and turmoil/change in my life recently, I have vowed to attempt DO the following:

ugly day

I have to admit, many days since 28 August this goal has been all-but-impossible to achieve. That admission aside, things ARE gradually getting better and each day IS actually getting less ugly and more beautiful. Thanks, Universe!

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

BLACK

Tonight I am in a crappy mood, and the weekend ahead seems hell-bent on perpetuating this state of crappiness. I am physically  tired, I am emotionally drained/disappointed, I have a mountain of undesirable tasks ahead, all “enhanced” by the fact that – on this three-day holiday weekend – my Sweetie and I essentially work opposite for four days running, seeing each other only to grunt “Good morning, I love you” or “Goodnight, I love you more than anything” at the beginning and close of each day. Being an “adult” sucks.

I have to say, this image pretty much illustrates my mood at present – rough, dark and almost pitch black.

black

I am sure I will survive this weekend, and the next several weeks/weekends, too. I know my life will even out (eventually!) and, I will share my life more fully with my Beloved MSW. (Martin? I love you, Baby Boy!) Thanks for listening, and thanks for caring. I appreciate all your kind thoughts, prayers and best wishes as one chapter in my life closes, one chapter continues on (but with a new plot twist!) and one – or more, many more – remain to be written.

Really? Now, Already?

You know that trite adage – “When one door closes, another opens?” Well, in my life, doors AND windows are flying open. I have so much happening right now it is hard to keep everything straight. My “pocket file cabinet” is nearly at capacity…

still to do

I mean:

1. I have four more days till my brick and mortar storefront closes. There are utilities to be terminated (thanks, Scott!), “arrangements” to be made, debts to be collected, debts to be paid – all of it. Ugh.

2. My recent promotion at “my day job” is going well but the expectations of my immediate supervisor are proving to be greater than I had imagined. It will all work out (and I do love that job) but there ARE only 24 hours in every day.

3. My goal of continuing to do interior design after the storefront closed seemed questionable; I have two design jobs “in process” but worried about gaining more. Turns out, now I have two MORE on the line, and maybe another prospect after that. Sweet.

4. I spoke with Pop-pop tonight and he had a good day today. For that, I thank The Universe (and respectfully ask for many more – and consecutive, please!)

5. My Beloved MSW continues to be the best hub-bub a gay could ask for (love you, Sweetie!) I will admit, though, that arranging one full-time job, two “part-time” jobs and classes for school – all with ONE car – takes some coordination and calendar effort but, hey – better than just sitting home doing nothing, right?

So, yeah – today is looking much brighter than the preceding 2-3 days, and I am glad. I do hope my life returns to some sort of normal rhythm soon – and listen, it can be a rhythm traveling at the speed of sound but I would like the “peaks and valleys” to all level out a bit. Universe? You still listening? Thanks in advance!

Waiting for Stage 5

A week from today, the business that I helped co-found, co-create and co-own will be, in the physical sense, gone. Closed. No more. Nada. And that makes me beyond sad…

In her (now iconic) 1969 book, “On Death and Dying,” author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the five stages of normal grief that happen when the loss of a loved one occurs. These five steps are, in order:

1. Denial and Isolation

Entering the state of Denial

2. Anger

Shô's_anger

3. Bargaining

a sign

4. Depression

depression_by_3rd3m

5. Acceptance

acceptance

With all due respect to anyone that has lost a loved one, I believe that the shuttering of my retail store is probably just as devastating – perhaps even more so as it impacts my income. I seem to be frozen at Step 4, and keep asking The Universe to grant me Acceptance.

I spent some time at my soon-to-be-closed store this afternoon, clearing boxes out of the basement and getting ready for our final big “Move Out” one week from today. The basement is now all but empty; a few boxes of records and old client files remain. Upstairs on the main “selling floor,” our once beautiful showroom has been cannibalized by bargain hunters, leaving behind a broken assortment of mismatched pillows and furniture, rugs with no “room settings” and some random art on the walls.

I started crying today as I sat alone in the store, no music, no people, no future. It was a great six and half year run, but now it is almost over and I am sad. I hope depression gives way to acceptance soon. I keep reminding myself that there are many positives in my life – my Beloved Martin, a handful of great friends and a supportive family. I also have a reasonable job, and will continue “doing design” as a freelancer. I guess I just never really realized what a sort of physical anchor the brick and mortar store was in my life, until today…

Mid-Week Scorecard

I know, I know – Wednesday is supposed to be “Hump Day” but my weeks have always run Monday thru Sunday, so Thursday has always been “mid-week” for me. Get over it…

Lots of “stuff” is going on in my life right now, so I wanted to take a brief moment and review/score the events taking place – please, enjoy…

Work:

Good – I recently was promoted to floor supervisor at work, which – while still an hourly position – entitles me to “full-time” (40 hours per week) and benefits (like vacation and health insurance).

Bad – The retail store I opened with a business partner is closing after 6.75 years on Saturday, 30 August 2014. I am more than a little sad…

StoreClosingSign2

Personal:

Not-so-good – It is confirmed my father has urethral cancer, along with the possibility that the cancer may have spread to other nearby tissue/organs. If the store closing makes me sad, well, this is BEYOND sad…

On-the-bright-side-of-bad – My father’s health team is working hard to manage his illness and they are incredible. Also, my father feels better and is in better spirits now than he has been for weeks. Finally, my immediate and extended family and circle of friends have all been amazing in their support and love. If gray clouds have silver linings, this cloud’s lining is STERLING silver.

clouds and sunFamily:

Good – While my Dad’s health is a less-than-ideal situation to bring me and my siblings together, it does ring true that families “circle the wagons” when a crisis presents itself. I have been amazed and inspired by my little brother and little sister, their devotion to and love they have for our father. Thanks, Bro, thanks Piglet! I love you two.

Bad – Other than wishing my Dad’s health was better, I have no other “bad” in this category.

fingersRelationships:

Good, no GREAT My hub-bub, Martin, continues to be my ROCK thru all the madness in my life. He is the most wonderful, loving, supportive and understanding mate a guy could ask for. I love him.

Bad – Not one thing.i-do-i-love-youNote: This image is a bit of an inside joke between me and my Sweetie; see, we “sneak off” and buy 49 cent ice cream cones at Mickey D’s all the time, well, not ALL the time. But sometimes, often…

So, I have to say, while it would be easy to think my life SUCKS, I guess when I look at all the “good stuff,” I am pretty blessed. Could I be thinner? You bet. Could I be hella’ more wealthy? God, yes, please… But all in all, I am a pretty lucky guy. I’m not sure exactly “how” to score my life but, at the moment, I would definitely give it at least an A- (I could be richer, LOL!) Thanks, Universe – keep up the good work!!! Signed, your biggest fan, Tim  😀