It’s been quite a while since I wrote my last blog post, almost a year in fact. Writing didn’t happen for a lot of reasons, and none were because nothing was happening that was interesting enough to chronicle. Mostly LIFE happened.
As I had written about in previous blog posts, my kids and grandkids moved in with me in June of 2015. Lots of moving around things, crowding and stuffing into corners and crevices took place between June and a few months later when they actually sold their home. Then MORE items had to come to the house, some landed in an office area of my shop that was just being used for my storage and thus became their storage to save them money. Stuff more stuff, move out some of my stuff to the shop to sell, decisions made about what to keep for the “one day” house we might have together, decisions to sadly let go of some things I loved, but had no real use for anymore. I haven’t even been in the two small attics since the big move, but I am told there is a lot more stuff and a lot less space than last June. I am afraid to venture up as yet.
Disruption for all of us became a way of life.
The kids had to sleep in one bedroom…a seven year old prissy girl had to bunk down with twin 3 year old messy, wild boys. A canopy and privacy curtains was moved to the top of the Christmas “want” list by the prissy girl, and with good reason. The big kids had to go to a small room and use every amount of space there and in the guest bath just for essentials for the 5 people in their family. My dining room that was rarely used became a daily used playroom with shelves on every wall, toys scattered, dress up clothes in our old hope chests (now toy boxes) and a baby gate was installed across the door leading from playroom to kitchen so the little boogers couldn’t escape at will. In the beginning, I had a time opening the metal contraption, and I silently cussed that gate. A lot.
Me, being one person, I began the daunting task of the move to the “smaller” parts of the home. My room became my room AND office. The regular fridge was given to the kids and I moved my items to the extra 1942 Hotpoint fridge in the laundry room that formerly held sodas and the Thanksgiving overflow each year. It is in the freezer space of the laundry room, opens to the left toward the washer and dryer, and it is a trapeze act to get into it around the clothes, cleaning supplies and dog kennel, but I have learned to manage pretty well…most days. My pantry items, being much more sparse than the rest of the family, went to two shelves while the family stuffed theirs into the rest of the shelves and floor space there, and in the laundry room on top of cabinets and inside cabinets next to light bulbs and flea meds. The “his and her” closets in my bathroom became storage for the decor I just couldn’t part with, yet. One closet is also a craft/paint/record keeping/gift wrap/Christmas gift storage area and it is bulging. I actually have some clothes and shoes in the other one, luggage, a chest of drawers that converted to store record keeping and so forth that cannot get shredded for 7 years, pool items, extra toiletries, and more future Christmas and birthday gifts.
Under my bed there are totes with more stuff that is mildly essential. It is weird to see those under there. I have never been one to have anything under the bed except maybe a sawed off bat to hit an intruder in the head if they choose my house to visit unannounced. I guess it is a throwback to my cleaning lady days not to store under the bed. One of my pet peeves as a cleaner was to find everybody’s junk under their bed when I was expected to vacuum there for them. It was an extra job to move all that and clean. Now it is just a matter of look under the bed, dust over the top and shrug and move on.
The garage was suddenly full of stuff like gardening items, lawn care things as usual. But it is also full of shelves with extra family toiletries, towels and tissue, napkins, canned food, toys for outside, and other items that have no room in the house.
And now, in the midst of all this “fullness”, I have closed my retail shop and more stuff has come home.
At the end of last year, about the time of my last blog post in November of 2015, I began to go through a time of self-reflection and some days were pretty intense. At first, I thought maybe there were just too many changes at home too quickly and I was reacting to those by getting the runaways. You know what those are, right? You just want to run away from your life, stay in bed, or go somewhere and tell everyone to leave you alone. That’s kind of where I found myself last year, but I knew that was not my usual modus operandi. I felt like my granddaughter. I wanted a bed…no, I wanted a LIFE with a canopy around it to keep the wildness and confusion out. I felt way out of my element, way out of control, way out of everything. It was time to step back a bit from it all, but frankly I didn’t know how I could.
One day I had some errands to run, and as I was driving, making stops and so forth, I was thinking. It was early December, I was picking up a few things for gifts and trying to decide what changes I wanted to make in me and my business for the upcoming year. I went to my favorite watering hole, sat for three hours in a booth alone with a pen and paper and wrote down the pros and cons of my current life. Then I wrote a new list of changes that would turn more of the cons into pros. All without exception required stepping back in some way. By day’s end I had made some big decisions for myself, and frankly I was nervous and anxious, but determined. I had my lease coming up for renewal in July of 2016, and I was seriously considering taking a partial retirement and not renewing. The nervousness and anxiety was because I didn’t know how I could do that and survive financially with many of the extra expenses that had made their way into my budget. But I knew it was what God wanted me to do. So the shop situation had to undergo immediate changes, starting the next day.
I posted ads online and said we would be closing for the last two weeks of December and reopening after the first of the year with a new format. This was a bit scary for sure since the loan to the buyers of the cleaning company I had sold had been paid off in full as of December. I had no extra income at all. So two weeks with no income was going to be interesting. With Mitzi’s help we transformed the showroom and reopened at the first of January. I started manning the shop myself, had no payroll, and saved as much profit as possible. I went to a different format of not pricing anything, dragging it out on the floor and getting it sold fast and gone quickly. Sales boomed and there were rare days that I didn’t make way over my quota of sales I had set for each day. Word got out that this was a reseller’s haven where you could buy low from me, then resell in your own booths. My shop became the go to place in town for dealers and retail customers alike. And miraculously I was making a great profit while liquidating my own stock, in anticipation of stepping back mid-summer.
Around April, sales hit an all time high and for a moment I began to rethink my plans. Should I remain in business full time? Sales were mounting each week, my Facebook followers had grown from around 500 to over 4000 and we were getting more and more out of town and online sales. I almost changed my mind, almost. But a conversation with my granddaughter one day redirected my steps.
Lorelai commonly came to the shop to work and spend time with me on Thursdays. It was a fun time for her and a time I could teach her about store ownership and responsibility and making change, and all the little nuances of being a business owner. But one particular day it was rainy and stormy, we had few customers and I was working more at the computer, so she was playing “house” in a little alcove at the shop. After a while, I went around the corner to see if she would help me with her favorite job of stocking out new items, and saw her playing contentedly with her dolls, so I watched a few moments. She had set up a makeshift kitchen, bedroom and living space and she was talking to her doll. “Mommy doesn’t have to go to work today, we get to stay home together all day long!” she exclaimed excitedly as she washed the doll’s face and brushed her hair. “We can play and work in the garden and cook food for when Daddy comes home later.” She glanced up and saw me and asked what I was doing. I told her I was just coming to see if she wanted to help pick out some things to put out on the floor. She hesitated for a minute and then said ” No, I have work to do here GiGi if that is ok. I just told Molly that I would be home today and we have a lot to do here because I have been working so much other days.” I nodded and left her playing and worked by myself that day. But I thought about that conversation many times over the few hours, and when I arrived home that day I had refocused.
I walked around the house after everyone had gone to bed the next night and saw all the places I had not tended to in my own home over the last few years because I had been working so much. I have always been a homebody. I was a stay-at-home mom for 21 years before going out to work after my divorce. It is hard for me to believe that myself, much less most of the people active in my life right now who know me as a focused entrepreneur and businesswoman. My home has always been a sanctuary for me, a haven, a place of rest and rejuvenation and in my walk around that night, I winced. I had let it become just another obligation that I had let slide and it was looking haggard and sad, and not much like a home. This had been my home almost 23 years. I had spent many hours painting, caring for the woodwork and trim, gardening, adding decor, changing furniture arrangements, adding this, taking away that because I loved my home and homemaking. I knew then it was time to step back into my real job as a homemaker. It was time for the real Rhonda to step forward again.
In April, I began the concerted effort of liquidating my own shop, unbeknownst to anyone but my immediate family. Huge sales were conducted, massive amounts of items were moved onto the showroom floor, items were re-discovered as I took box after box off the shelves in the back where they had sat for months since purchasing out multiple estates and storage units. I changed the shop hours and days to accommodate my relentless quest to have the shop purged, and empty by the last day of my lease, July 31st. Summer heat moved in and I began to move many items out into booths in local shops, into storage, into donation bins. Parking lot sales were held on my Sundays. I worked for 7 weeks with only two days off, most days 12-14 hours. During those months I dodged contagious shingles and staff infection running through the household, worked around both vehicles being down with major mechanical failures, and conducted two estate sales for clients, and still I worked steadily toward my goal. I took extra clothes to the shop each day, changing halfway through the day many times because I had soaked through as I plunged through the boxes and shelves in the back room and bay area and made drop offs at storage and I couldn’t stand the feel, much less the smell of the salty clothing.
And I did it…I actually did it.
The last day the shop was open was July 24, 2016. The next week the donations were picked up, the last of my items were moved to storage, the trash out crew came and removed all the garbage and items I couldn’t sell or donate. On July 30th, Mitzi came and helped me clean the building, my son in law made a trip or two with me to take a few things home, and I was done…all in time for Lorelai’s 8th birthday the next day, the last official day of my lease.
Choices don’t always make sense, that is a lesson I have learned. But if God guides, He always gives. This is the end of the first two weeks of no shop sales, but my sales have been consistent online and all my bills are paid up. Our yard sale yesterday was profitable, bills will be paid for another couple of weeks. I start another estate next week, and all is moving forward.
The one reason I hesitated in closing the shop has become a non-reason. I can make it. I just did.
Disruption once again is a way of life at home, but for a good reason. I have stepped back, not just from something, but to something. Stepping back from being “someone” that everyone knows as Help Me Rhonda or the Got Junk Lady. My identity is not wrapped up in what I do any longer, it is wrapped up in who I am and how I spend my time and with whom. I am stepping back into being a homemaker again, a mom, a grandmother. This week I start cooking for myself again, not grabbing food in between hot, salty trips to storage. Lunch with friends and swimming at Mom’s pool is working its way back into my days. I am planning creative projects again like new curtains for the kids’ room, painting pieces of yard sale furniture for my booths, writing more blogs and working on my book. I bought myself some coffee creamer and there will be coffee breaks with reading and reflecting. I think I may actually be able to take a look at Pinterest every so often, go to the library and read magazines just for funsies, or plunge into the pumpkin patch with the littles this fall. Stepping back to be myself again is the new norm.
I’m reminded of a Shania Twain song, “Dance With The One Who Brought You”
You got to dance with the one that brought you
Stay with the one that wants you
The one who’s gonna love you when all of the others go home
Don’t let the green grass fool ya
Don’t let the moon get to ya
Dance with the one that brought you and you can’t go wrong.
My life is counting on me right now, and I am definitely re-learning the two-step. Sometimes it’s time to step back, so you can truly step forward.