Been awhile, hasn’t it?
I’ve been busy building a company while working full time, too busy to keep this blog at the level I need it to be.
But all that busy-ness will come to a crashing halt next Wednesday as I’m wheeled into the operating room for a total knee replacement. This time my left. My right follows suit after the first one heals.
First surgery. First experience of staying in the hospital. Then a longish three month (minimum!) recovery.
I’m excited about walking pain free and cane free. Eventually. I’m curious about the surgical procedure-the plan now is to avoid a general anesthetic and do it via a spinal block and a “cocktail.” I told them to make it a double. And I can’t imagine what having an entire three months or more to focus on getting better is going to be like. I’m the woman who dictates emails to Siri from the shower. I’m writing this during my commute. I’m accustomed to doing at least three things at once.
Focus on me? Seriously?
Thing is I’ll need an outlet or two, for recording this journey, for thinking aloud, for pondering what comes next.
And while what I have to say may not always be joyful–or at times loud enough to be noise, you’re welcome to stick around to how the story goes.
One of my deepest personality flaws—or charming idiosyncrasies, depending on your point of view—is that my reach always exceeds my grasp. I want everything to be perfect. I want my house to look like Martha Stewart’s more contemporary country retreat (I don’t share her love of pastels and earthy woods); I want my wardrobe to look like I stepped out of the pages of W or the Vogue or at least a J. Jill catalog. I want every meal I cook to resemble the cover story of Saveur. On the professional side, I yearn for the day when my little but growing content company is a success story featured in Inc. or even Fast Company (there’s a trend here, perhaps I should just stay away from newsstands!). I want a perfect relationship and fantastic, supportive friends, great hair, a well-behaved dog and skin that glows like a Benefit model (and oh how the copywriter in me loves their product names).
The thing is, while the details might change, I know I’m not alone in this quest for perfection—I’m just willing to admit it.
My rational side tells me that operate at this level in every sphere of my life is exhausting, frustrating and darn near impossible. Note that I had to qualify the impossibility. Besides, I work all week, first at my job, then at my business, I’m helping to found a new magazine in my spare time (hah!) and I spend my weekends playing catch up on errands, chores and pending deadlines. But nowhere does my dream of perfection and my frustration in not achieving it show itself most clearly as in my garden.
The garden in my head is a lush and bountiful landscape of colour and fragrance. A light breeze makes the perennial beds nod gently in the shade. My rose garden is heartbreakingly beautiful, with slender buds and full blooms of pale peach and silvery mauve perfumed floribundas, the rare chemise/flesh-tone Marilyn Monroe hybrid tea nestled next to the pure white of the J.F. Kennedy, just for fun. Plenty of ground cover, lemony evening primroses scenting the stark white curtains of the pergola at dusk, peppery nasturtiums, devil-may-care impatiens and velvety deep purple pansies. There are vibrant red and golden yellow heirloom tomatoes in the back garden, growing next to jewel-tone peppers and heady sage and basil. Mounds of morning glories in an ocean and sky palette gently embracing the fences and trellises. Somewhere, there’s a fruit tree bursting first with blossoms, then glossy bug-free apples or juicy cherries. Sigh. That’s the dream.
That dream begins anew every February when the seed carousels start appearing in stores. I love seeds. I love seed packages and catalogs…I even named my company after them. I love the promise they suggest, the potential they hold within. This year, my love bought me a tiny greenhouse and set it up in our summer room and I’m armed and ready (with seeds, seed starter, starter soil, little peat cups and a full supply of determination) to make the dream come true. And no, I know, once again this summer, the garden in my yard won’t match the garden in my head, but there will be flowers everywhere and a good crop of tomatoes and peppers on the way. And that’s good enough. For now. It’s the reaching towards the Plato-inspired image of garden perfection in my mind that’s important. Staying on course. And blocking out those who think I should settle. Never.
Because frankly I don’t plan on tempering my goals or reducing expectations—not when I’m perfectly content in my aim for perfection.
Ever notice how the people who criticize what you do and how you do it tend to be those who have accomplished very little in their lives. You know the type; we’ve all got one or two in our past. Those whose lives have been an absolute waste; whose only success has been in making those around them miserable.
I’ve also noticed that the people in my life who are the most supportive—sometimes to the point of gushing (it’s ok, sometimes you need that) are those who are the most productive and accomplished.
It’s a confidence thing.
People who have done well with their abilities and their circumstances are simply secure enough to enjoy and celebrate the accomplishments of others. Those who haven’t been able to summon the effort or the determination or the talent to take their lives somewhere lack that confidence…and the only way they can feel any sense of superiority is to cut others down to their size.
How can someone respect or appreciate effort and hard work, commitment and determination, sacrifice and ambition if they’ve never experienced those things.
Both of these kinds of people are going to be in everyone’s life. Hopefully we get blessed by more of the confident supporters than those mean spirited ne’er-do-wells. Sometimes that just comes down to luck.
But we all have the ability to determine how much the attitudes and commentary from both groups are going to affect us. To achieve anything, you have to fill your life with those who support you. Their confidence in infectious. Granted, no one accomplishes anything by blocking out all criticism. You need to go when you’ve gone off track so you can figure out how to get back on. But learn the difference between constructive advice and someone who is faulting you for trying to achieve something they can’t. They’re limiting, fearful and lack direction—and no one who wants to succeed at something can afford to keep this kind of person close. They simply aren’t worth your time.
Be choosy. Choose those who will lift you up to reach your goals, not those who plot to pull you down.
After a rather hellish week, with my love hitting the road each morning at 5 a.m. to work an early shift, a stifling heat wave that reached 42C with the humidity (that’s close to 112 F for my US readers) doctor and vet appointments and a dryer with mood swings and random labor stoppages, today—Saturday—was practically idyllic.
I slept until it was almost light outside, called my mom, then my love and I did a mad tango in our PJs in the backyard trying to hang queen size sheets on the compact but lifesaving umbrella clothesline we were forced to buy. See dryer situation above. I noticed how thickly the roses are climbing up the walls of the house. That is not a metaphor. I shared a whole-wheat blueberry bagel with Zoey—she’s a fan of grains and fruit. I love a dog that understands the importance of plenty of fiber and antioxidants. I got to town early before the crowds and after just five stores, confirmed that the new paint works with the new wallpaper, which works with the new curtains, which match the new furniture for our living room. (I failed to mention previously that we’re redecorating the entire house as well—at least plotting and preparing and buying what’s needed, holding off until Zoey is old enough to not want to help.)
It was a light at the end of the tunnel kind of morning.
Then I got thinking that while we may focus on all the things that go wrong, a lot of stuff goes right. Or at least right enough.
It was about two weeks ago that I announced in this blog that I was ready to at least begin to take my destiny into my own hands—and start the company I had been thinking about. At least part-time. Since that revelation, I’ve purchased a URL, registered a Facebook page and Twitter account and bartered with a designer friend to get my logo, business cards and website created. I’ve talked to three people who are quite convinced that they want to be clients. And last night, while I was at the supermarket, somewhere between the cereal aisle and the meat department, notice of an impending assignment—the perfect kind of gig for my new venture—sailed over the transom. Actually, it beeped in via my Blackberry, but my publishing background makes me love that old expression.
Whew. The irony is I have to put off writing the website I need to get good gigs—because the gig I got was so good.
Once I stopped grinning, which lasted several hours, it dawned me that everything about putting my plan into action got a lot easier—and much less “what the heck do I think I’m doing” scary—as soon as I made the decision to stop thinking about opening a business and actually do something about it. It’s like I told a friend last week—I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know for certain nothing will happen if I don’t at least try.
While I’m not much for new age stuff—I think crystals belong in earrings and antique radios, and I’ve really got too much on my plate in this life to worry about how I perished in my past ones—maybe there is something to this “putting it out to the universe.” Or perhaps, it’s more like the famous quote from film producer Samuel Goldwyn, who said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
All I know is that I needed a good Saturday and I got one. I needed a sign that I was doing the right thing—and I got plenty.
Now if only I could do something about that dryer…
NOTE: Just a warning that due to my upcoming renovations, evidence of impending success and the fact that it is summer, time to take it a little easy, Her Joyful Noise may get a little more random in the next few months.
… with your future.
That’s going to be my new motto.
One thing about a vacation is that you get perspective. You get to stand back, outside your normal life and see a much broader picture of how things are. You start thinking about where you’ve been and where you’re going–and whether or not you’re on the right path to get there.
I did. And I came to the realization that I’ve been standing still for a while. Not that I’ve minded. I like how things are right now. I like knowing what happens next. It’s an unusual situation for me. But I also realized that if I need things to change–and it may come to that–I will have to be the one to make the change happen.
So I am. But I’m not looking for another job. And I’m not opening a tart shop, as tempting as it may be. I need to lean on my real strengths. I’ve had a concept for a creative business rattling around in my mind for a couple of years. I’ve decided, based on how I’m seeing circumstances align, that now is the time to put it into action. To get started. To prepare.
The problem for me is that I have an entrepreneurial spirit, but I’m totally risk-adverse when it comes to all things financial. Aside from that dot com mutual fund in the late 90s. That wasn’t pretty. But no, I just had to own a tiny slice of the NASDAQ action.
Small independent businesses have the best chance of survival if you start them while you still have another income. And I do. I have a good job that I still enjoy doing after several years. And I’m going to hold on to it as long as I can. But as with any job these days, it could go away tomorrow, through no fault of my own. In this economy, job security means leaving the office on Monday knowing for sure that you’re coming back on Tuesday. And the list making, schedule creating, put something away for a rainy day Girl Scout in me has to be prepared. For any eventuality.
I want to build something that can see me into retirement. I don’t want to travel the world. I don’t want to play golf. I just want to have a reason to get up in the morning while making sure we can eat and have a decent roof over our heads. Not too much to ask.
So over the next few months, I’ll be in planning mode. I have a brand new moleskine in my purse. I’ve bought a URL and registered a company blog. I have to see my accountant. I have ideas for a logo and the beginnings of a client list. I dug out my copy of the The Martha Rules. This is the fun part. I know why so many people love to work for start-ups. Watching what was originally a thought that came to you in the shower or a few notes jotted on a napkin become a reality is a heady sensation. And highly addictive.
At the tender age of nearly 52, I’ll start anew. I’ll be a statistic, because I’m in the age group in which a lot of women establish businesses. I’ll be part of the mobilization of talent, experience and newfound mid-life energy, wisdom and passion that are the foundation for these new ventures. And I’ll be relying on the one person I fully trust to make it work.