Monday, January 12, 2009

I'm Over It. You Too?

I've been mulling something over in my head for a long time. It's been almost a year, really. Last year at this time, my very sick relative moved in here. Shortly thereafter, business which had been roaring along and gaining speed just grabbed a spot and stayed there. Didn't drop (thank goodness!), but the growth I projected didn't happen either.
Somewhere in the dark of winter, I noticed that I was not spending any time writing to my business or personal friends - something that had always been the most joyful part of my day. Instead of putting an hour or two a day into spirited, stimulating email volleys filled with ideas and challenges, I was reading what came in and clicking "save as new", hoping to get to it when I had the energy. Eventually, I would set aside a day to call and apologize to several of my friends, thinking that the whole problem was me, or the different energy in my home. Invariably, I would find that the person on the other end of the phone was in the same place... lethargic, listless, feeling dull and out of ideas. Sometimes even feeling like any effort was useless or futile. More than once, my old cheerleader hat would come out during a call, and I would remind them that they shouldn't give up because everything is temporary.

Gradually, I've come to realize that there something going on in America's psyche. Is it more pronounced in small business owners? Maybe. Maybe not. My friends are small business owners, and they have it bad. For the last year, we've been thinking that there is something wrong with US. Although the economy is in ruins, our country is in a never-ending war, we've just gone through a harrowing election campaign that pitted friends and lovers against each other, and long-standing businesses of every ilk are falling day by day, somehow we still ignore that and think that WE are alone in this feeling of depression. How did that happen?

For one, as business owners, we've been trained to put on a brave face right up until the ship goes under. We don't talk publicly of our woes. A sniff of a problem can sink a company, so we are alone. We are alone, and all the other businesses are crowing about how well they are doing (while we secretly suspect that they are crowing in the dark).
For another, most of the women I know accept full responsibility for anything that happens in their business. Succeed or fail, it is our own doing, right girls? Well... sometimes we just can't control everything or shoulder all the blame. Sometimes we just have to ride it out and see which way the wind blows.

So I posted about this insidious, low-level energy infection on The Essential Herbal's Yahoo! list yesterday, and was gratified to find that several list members were suffering in silence, and thrilled to find they were not alone. It has prompted me to share it here. Best of all, I feel the clouds shifting. I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that I don't have to carry it all by myself. And I also get that people aren't ready to lay down and give up.

I don't know how or why, but I am optimistic for 2009. I'm either crazy, a small business owner, or both :-).


Rosemary said...

I'm standing up with you and your optimism. Loved the shifting change in the photos to accompany the shifting thoughts! I thought I saw a glimmer of hope in a few recent newspaper articles that I read, and I do believe that the attitude is shifting. It may be small, but the power of the people in pretty strong. Here's to a positive future.

Shadows of the goddess designs said...

I totally know how you feel... I have gone to bartering my designs now...doing bit better and trading for essential commodities on alot of local barters. I sit down 2 nights a week now and fix a cup of tea and ligth some candles and play music and write my friends and in my diary...I have gotten too wrapped up in the BAD of my work and jewlery design. I cant change it..but i need to stop worrying about it and get on with enjoying my life.

Tina Sams said...

I have just decided not to give in to the negativity. People want to know who they hand their money to, they want to feel that they are dealing with a real person. I know I do.
Our job now is just to keep being there.

Michele said...

Well written, Tina. Love the photos! Keep writing. Keep breathing. Something has got to give somewhere. :)

girlwithasword said...

as usual, beautifully written and very inpsiring. The clouds HAVE shifted and I'm excited to see the sunshine :) And -- you know, we HAVE to be crazy to be business owners. but, it's okay. it's a good kind of crazy, and I woudln't have it any other way.

Tina Sams said...

Me too. Crazy is good sometimes, and we get to ride this hilarious, soaring carnival ride every single day.
9-5 security? No thanks.

Nancy Bauer said...

Even tho I am not a business owner, I too have felt the squeeze of life right now. You know what, I refuse to give in to it, I kicked 2008 out the door and am welcoming 2009 so I can enjoy all the little discoveries and creativity to pops up here and there. Keep smiling every one and enjoy the HERBS!

Wakerens said...

I wasn't blessed with getting my business up and running YET, but in a sense glad because now I don't have to watch it fall so early.

Tina you are never in it alone. With all of us crazy Women/Business owners/dreamer on the Essential Herbal Yahoo are banned together for thick or thin it doesn't matter.

I might not have my business yet but I feel alot of what you spoke of on the group, and I too feel the change comming. Sometimes I hate changes but no matter what the out come I can't wait to see the results, and pray we can handle it!

Laura said...

Absolutely awesome! And I love all the positive posts! Being here for each other and having hope for the future. What better thing could we aspire to?

LisaZ said...

I hope you are right about the general winds of change shifting. I too have felt the negative too much this past year. In a way, though, that has helped me become a better, smarter and more efficient person so it's not all bad.

I don't have much income as an herbalist yet, but I just got my flower essence kit today and I'm ready to use those and expect folks will start knocking down my doors for the flowers once word gets out. In the meantime, I've been seeing lots of clients on barter, too, and I even have an intern following my practice so things are looking good.

We do have to work harder to not feel negative and find the positive sometimes. One thing I keep thinking of is how Dr. Bach, founder of the original 38 flower essences, was working at it during the Great Depression of the 30s. Many good things came out of that time, and that will be the case with these "dark" times too. I intend to be part of that goodness!

Lisa in TX said...

Positive re-inforcement or positive thinking...I have read many books on this subject in different genres and truly believe that if a thought or thought of action is reinforced, collectively thought about, "prayed", etc. by yourself diligently or by a collective group that whatever is focused on WILL in fact BECOME tangible! Literally! I have experienced this happening, however, I feel the focus that is needed to achieve this is rarely done or given up on (due to having to use your energy for other daily life challenges and we end up unfocused). Maybe if we all try and make a mantra of this positive change at least once a day (or more) that we can actually bring positive actions to occur (health, wealth and happiness for all deserving).
Anyone who finds THREE pearls in her stew bowl can surely see it was a sign! So let's take it from there...:-)
I may not have the energy for most things but I can surely fit this in!!!

patti flynn said...

tina, when you put it like that, it is NO WONDER people are feeling somewhat blue, in droves.

i surely never expected to see you with the black dog hanging are one of the cheeriest souls i know.
i'm glad to hear that you have identified the feeling and are acting upon it.

for myself....i try not to read or hear or watch too much global news because it makes me very depressed and hopeless. and often angry.

every day i try for balance.
i love my work, much like yourself, but i'm learning to leave it alone more often.

my goal this year and it's a biggie for me: less internetz.
when you live rurally with few sophisticated diversions and facilities locally, it is all too easy to retreat to your laptop and experience cyberspace for hours on end.
i cannot believe that it is a good thing in the long run.

moderation, again!

thanks for a thought-provoking post.

Tina Sams said...

ohhh! I can do that too! Yeah, that was some bowl of soup :-).

Tina Sams said...

Patti - everyday I talk to other small business folks, NOT publicly, and it is pervasive. Some of the strongest people I know are feeling bruised and battered.
As for you young lady, into the garden with you! That'll keep you off the 'nets.

Patricia said...

Tina, I am a fledgling business (March 2008) and had started out with high hopes and expectations. The doldrums hit me about September with several major personal problems,then a slow down is business. New Year's Day my entire mood shifted. I truly think it is going to be the little businesses that are going to make it, perhaps not according to what we have planned, but we will make it. You hit the nail on the head, people are wanting to spend their money more cautiously but I think they really are turning towards home. They want items made in America, handmade is coming into demand and they like knowing a little bit about who they are buying from. It's going to be that personal touch that keeps us alive.

Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings


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