bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: business

Welcome to Work-Life Balance!

If you’ve subscribed to my blogs over the years, you’ll know that I jump on YouTube from time to time to explore various topics through mindfulness. The content of this channel is shifting and in this video I share its new direction. Thanks for tuning in, for liking, for commenting, for sharing.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

sobbing on the front lawn: breakdown at the yard sale

Is there anything more cathartic than a yard sale? So often we talk about lightening our heavy loads in an emotional way, but there’s no need for metaphor when we physically disencumber 1500 pounds of impulse buys from our attics and basements. The purge is deeply connected to an emotional unraveling that is both healing and heartbreaking.

I hosted a neighborhood yard sale over the weekend. On Saturday morning, my front lawn became a graveyard for misfit decor, obsolete electronics, outgrown toys, and battered sports equipment. We amateur vendors watched with relief as our old treasures were released from purgatory by folks who promised to breathe life back into them.

I confess, I struggled with the purge. I specifically struggled with several large Rubbermaid bins full of clothing samples, ghosts of a profession past. I spent much of my 20s and 30s as a serial entrepreneur, birthing small businesses that fizzled and died before maturity. My boldest endeavor was a golf apparel line for women and children. It survived three years, until my last child came into the world; when I realized I didn’t want to “do it all” anymore. So I packed up my trade show booth, fell out of touch with customers, and watched from the nursing rocker as a thick layer of dust settled on my sewing machine.

I hadn’t ventured into business since.

Though the golf business had been peacefully resting six feet under for many years, I still felt pangs of guilt, shame, and regret when I saw those bins full of clothes, when I thought about what I spent on that start-up, what others might think of me for giving it up, and, of course, what I could’ve been. I felt stuck, unable to go forward or backward, in a purgatory of my own.

Those Rubbermaid bins were my hair shirt. They held me back, haunting me, quietly murmuring, “You never finish anything, Vanessa. Good ideas. No follow through. Why bother starting anything new when you’re born to fail?”

They whispered mean things to me, but I kept them anyway. Because there’s something beautifully painful about suffering, about knowing we’re inadequate.

Shortcomings and insufficiencies are ghost stories we know so well. We can recite every line by heart. And we are strangely comfortable with them. If our dark tales weren’t here, if our lack, our suffering wasn’t holding us back, we’d have to step fully into that bright loving light that forces us to live fully. Living fully can be scary. There’s risk in the fullness. What if we fail? What if we disappoint?

But the scariest thing for me is always this: What if I succeed? What if I do so well that I need to be responsible for one more thing? Can I carry the weight of accountability? Am I disciplined enough to manage a new endeavor? Am I good enough? Am I worthy?

Oh my God.

Am I worthy?

So I stared down those Rubbermaid bins last week, which just so happened to be the same week I took on my first paying meditation students. I looked at those bins and I threatened: “It’s you or me.”

And I chose me. (I’m bawling typing this right now, by the way.)

I dragged the bins onto my lawn last Saturday, but I didn’t take the covers off. Maybe I was only half ready to let them go.

Two hours into the sale, an old lady started poking around at my ghosts and said, “I’ll give you $10 for everything in this box.”

“TEN DOLLARS?” I said, “You could start a whole business with what’s in this box. There’s thousands of dollars worth of retail merchandise in this b–”

The lady looked at me in a way that I can only describe as neutral.

I shut my eyes and took a deep breath, “Okay, it’s yours for twenty.”

“I’m not buying it for me,” said the old lady. “I’m bringing it to Haiti for mission.”

I suddenly had a visual of a Haitian woman walking slowly down a bustling tropical street, wearing my light, breathable golf clothes, looking crisp and cool in the hot, hot sun. I hauled out every bin I had, transferred their contents into white Glad bags, and recruited a friend to carry my ghosts into the old lady’s station wagon. I hugged her 35 times then accepted her ten bucks gratefully.

And then I sobbed.

www.vanessagobes.com

 Please share this with your favorite entrepreneur… or yard saler. 

My Rubbermaid bins looking sweet and innocent, now empty and stacked in a closet.

My Rubbermaid bins looking sweet and innocent, now empty and stacked in a closet.

fencing lesson

I try so hard to be a cool cucumber when dealing with confrontation, but this morning I was all hot pepper! I called Reliable Fence of Woburn to contest a $250 charge for a 5 minute quick-fix on a gate hinge in my front yard. The guy who answered the phone over-talked me, didn’t listen, acted evasive, and was downright insistent on proving me wrong. He offered no solutions, service, or understanding. I boldly let him know what I thought of his interpersonal and customer service skills and somehow instead of him apologizing for swindling me, I was apologizing to him for raising my voice.

I try to share positive posts on BUBs, so I was hesitant to write about this episode, but isn’t this the sort of crap we deal with every day? Often times when we interact with frustrating service issues, we feel powerless. We’re paying for something and we expect that our payment entitles us to a perfectly balanced transaction. “Here’s our hard-earned money, now you give us what we want.” When perfect balance is not achieved, sometimes we can let it go; other times we become infuriated.

We project our expectations onto people who aren’t capable of or have no interest in fulfilling them. Maybe it’s a professional interaction and we’re the disappointed customer. Or maybe it’s something more personal – we’re the offended friend, the betrayed lover, or the exasperated parent.

All of these contentious feelings are happening because we’ve exposed ourselves to them through human experience, through vulnerability. We voluntarily sign up for these relationships and we trust that we will be valued. When we feel undervalued, like we’ve been taken for granted or been taken advantage of, we can either harden or soften with the blow.

Every time we harden, we make it more difficult for higher thinking to fully express itself. Softness allows more flexibility, more space for consciousness to flow. This morning I hardened. But next time I’ll work on remaining soft. I will not engage. I will maintain composure. I will breathe when I’m ready to blow. I will be patient, and wait to speak to the person who better matches my energy vibration. Good advice for dealing with a bullish fence guy, or a challenging relationship.

There is nothing more frustrating than the feeling unheard or misunderstood. This morning’s tiff was a good lesson for me, and I’m grateful to the guy at Reliable for reminding me that I have no control over the way other people receive me. I have no control over the way other people behave. I have no power to change anyone’s mind. And it’s not his fault I got frustrated; it’s mine, because I allowed him to get under my skin.

Oh, and I can’t forget the most obvious lesson: When multiple online reviewers warn you that a company is sketchy and has sh*tty customer service, believe them.

From mine to yours,
Vanessa

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one simple thing you can do now to simplify your future

Are you intrigued?  Here’s a hint:  It’s your domain.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa