Once more the talk has turned to lock downs here in South Australia. Not great news for businesses. Especially mine this month, as last month I splurged on stock and the bills will be due the end of this month.
June, July and August have in previous years been my better months. I thought I’d be fine to add new stock but that may not have been the case now.
Surprisingly I’m not stressed, anxious or significantly upset at the prospect of another lock down, or by a poor turnover this month.
I’ve done a lot of work on developing self care and kindness towards myself. I’m slowly learning it’s okay not to please everyone. I’ve been learning to let go of what I can not control, like how others behave or think about me.
It’s a truth, I’ve been slow to internalise. I’ve also been focusing on the things I am grateful for and celebrating my successes, even if it’s just by acknowledging them and reaffirming to myself that it is a success.
I’ve let go of chasing others for approval and friendship. I have forgiven others and forgiven myself. I’ve let go of the need to know why people have left my life. Coming to the peace of being grateful that they were a part of my life and knowing that we all need to walk are own paths. By relinquishing my expectations of others, I’ve been kinder on myself and reduced the over thinking about offences I may of caused.
Worry and overthinking changes nothing, it’s only another way for me to be unkind to myself.
Self care and kindness are hard to do. Kindness and self care aren’t wishy washy concepts. They take discipline, self awareness, education and planning to achieve.
I’ve done a lot of reading in the last year. Many self help books. Many biographies of others who have triumphed in adversity. Inspirational stories that put my own story into perspective. People who have forgiven themselves and been forgiven that have gone on to be inspirations to many.
My own failings, mistakes and at times unkindness are put into perspective and I can forgive myself, learn from them and use the lessons to be who I dream of being.
I started my shop at a very challenging time in my life. I’d been publicly humiliated at the pool I was working as a lifeguard at, in front of dozens of people. None spoke up or supported me, maybe they too believed what was being said to me or maybe they were fearful of being turned on. I spent the remaining hours of my shift feeling eyes following me. I asked a patron to stop teaching her two children to dive in the shallow end of the pool, which was crowded at the time. Only for the patron to also to utter the same assessment of my lifeguard skills. I was so humiliated I quit. I couldn’t leave my home for weeks on end. I was terrified of going to the supermarket and running into people who had been at the pool that day.
After expressing suicidal thoughts, I was put onto medications and started counselling. CBT therapy. I judged myself to be a failure and worthless. I believed what I was told that day at the pool. The same words my dad used to say, ‘You are useless’. That day at the pool was confirmation of my worthlessness.
Making has always been my happy place. When I’m in the flow of creating there’s no room for the negative thoughts. it’s what I would escape to in my childhood, when things weren’t good. I’d knit and be told by the adults around me how clever I was. It gave me self worth.
I started the shop seeking that feeling of being praised by others for something I do well. It hasn’t worked out that way. Within days I heard negatives. One person loudly spoke to her friend outside saying, “I wouldn’t go in there, she’s very expensive”.
Others came in telling me I wouldn’t do well my prices were too high. More loudly spoke about where they could purchase a similar product cheaper. One walked around the shop touching all the yarns telling me how scratchy wool is.
The shop was not to be a magic solution to my lack of self worth! Even five years in I still get the negative comments. One woman came up from Adelaide at the recommendation from a friend only to walk in and loudly proclaim she was very disappointed as there was nothing here she was interested in, before she and her friend walked out talking about their waste of time.
So there I am five years into a business, I was no longer in love with. It felt a chore to go in each day. Everything I tried to improve things just seemed to backfire. I’d bring yarn in from overseas only for the company to send me a huge bills for postage they had not billed me for previously. The same yarn then was starting to be carried by other yarn businesses In Adelaide so my sales fell but the bill still needed paying. Customers who had previously bought from me I no longer saw, but would be linking on social media to other business who were now stocking that brand.
One customer proclaimed on her social media how another business was her favorite, after previously being a regular here. Another posted how wonderful it was she would no longer need to travel to Clare to make a purchase of a brand I carry.
I tried opening a community studio space. That too wasn’t a success, very few used it. Or came to the workshops I offered. The times didn’t suit. The classes weren’t what they wanted. I at least enjoyed the space myself.
Then COVID-19 hit. There I was with two leases to pay and no customers. The online shop wasn’t working due to poor inventory management software integration and hugely into an overdraft due to the overseas business who were demanding I repay the postage bill resulting of their oversight.
My love of running a yarn shop, which had seen me through five years was gone. It was a chore to go to work each day. I was sad, resentful, depressed and grieving the friendships I had lost for reasons I was unaware of.
You have to hit the bottom before you can bounce back. There has to be a point where the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of change. I had hit that point.
I closed the shop, the final day involved being abused by two people who did not like being asked to sanitise there hands and sign in. I was intending to close for a month but at the end of that first month I still did not want to go back. I spent the time with my family, trying to come up with a solution.
I talked to my landlord and moved out of the studio to decrease the overheads. I worked with A business consultant to clarify what it real was that I wanted. There was no point making a plan if I had no idea where I wanted that plan to take me. It was a time of uncertainty and tears.
I was not going to fix anything until I fixed myself. My lack of self worth, my overthinking, my reliance on others approval and my lack of knowing what I wanted.
First I worked out where I personally want to be in five years. Peter and I talked about where we wanted to be in five years. We wrote down our goals together. We took small actions. I set up a savings account for my dream trip to the UK and Peter put into motion his plans for retirement.
Next was the business. What was it I still enjoyed? How could I put more of that in? What wasn’t I enjoying? How could I reduce those aspects. Where did I want the business to be in five years?
I decided in 5 years I would no longer be in the shop. My children will have all finished school by then so the trip to Clare will no longer be necessary. Once I decided that I needed to decide what I did want to be doing. It also made it easy to make other decisions. Decisions about stock and opening times.
Coming to the decision of five more years has given me a new perspective on the shop. I only have five more years to do the bits I enjoy, so I’m more conscious of the good bits. And those bits I don’t like, well there’s an end point to those too.
I halved the retail space to make room for a studio space. Now I had room to dye, weave and create and still be in the shop to serve. I’m happier. As I’m happier I am a much nicer person to be around and less defensive when customers who’s expectations I can’t meet visit.
It’s been a season of growth for me. I still have so much to learn but I’m no longer harsh on myself. I’m more appreciative of the lovely customers I have in the shop and pay less heed to the comments I feel are negative. I’m comfortable saying no, as I’m now less concerned about pleasing everyone.
I’m in a sweet spot right now. I forgive myself. I take time out. I switch my phone off. I have cut my hours and days back. It’s not worth being open six days a week being resentful of the low turnover. It’s better to be four days a week and feeling like I’m putting in the time I am willing to give.