When The Circus Is Not So Serene…

Jan 30

It's A Flourish!

Sometimes, serenity just doesn’t co-operate.

For most of 2012, the circus that is my creative life and business was anything but calm and placid – turbulent, demanding, and disruptive yes, tranquil and productive, no.   None of the business plans I had in place saw fruition, the blog fell silent, my freelance clients dwindled, and even the weekly #QuirkyBiz tweet chats suffered.

What’s behind the tornadic upheaval?

My husband and I lost 3 immediate family members in 7 months, all three of them after lengthy illnesses and hospice stays. As a result, I spent a lot of emergency nights, weeks and even months away from home.

There was simply no way to balance the new demands of family with the demands of a just-starting-up multi-faceted creative business.  Because both my family and my husband’s were involved, there was no one free to lean on for extra help.  And now, when things should be settling down, I’m having to take on a much bigger role with the estate than intended.  It’s keeping me off-balance, and all I can say is thank-the-circus-gods for safety nets!

I’m not writing this looking for sympathy.

(I’m fine, I swear) nor am I hinting that I’d like your forgiveness for my broken promises. No, I’m writing this to say that as cliché as it sounds – sometimes, life just interferes.

Things happen.

Sometimes those things are in your control, sometimes they aren’t – mostly, it’s a mix, and there’s not a lot you can do to prevent it.

imageBeing your own boss gives you flexibility, yes, but whether you work for yourself, clients or a corporate overlord, there are limits to your time, energy and attention.  If you work for someone else, you’ll sometimes have to take days off, leaves of absences, and at times your work quality will suffer because of distractions.  And when you work for yourself, there *will* be times you’ll fail to meet your obligations to yourself, your fans, partners, and maybe even to paying clients.

Failure WILL happen.

And when (not if) it happens, avoid those masochistic tendencies of yours and skip the self-flagellation exercises. Instead, do your best to make things right (whether that means refunds, apologies, corrections, or all of the above) and move forward the best you can, when you can.

Now, I know you’ll be tempted to jump into the comments section and offer condolences. Please don’t! You’re totally relieved of that obligation – Promise.

What I’d *really* like to see are examples of how external circumstances have run your business or projects off the tracks, and how you re-railed the train (If you did!) So ‘fess up and share, won’t you? We all need to feel a little less alone when our trains wreck.image

It's Another Flourish!


  1. My life has been a trainwreck, too, in recent months. I still feel de-railed. I’m not sure how to get my business moving again…how to start over!

  2. In 2011, Borders died, and I grieved almost as much as when my Mom died. So many things left over from her death came back to haunt me that year, as well as all the fears & tears associated with suddenly being forced to live your life in a whole new way.

    Maybe it doesn’t seem like much reading this, but it wasn’t an easy death, for all it was a business and not a human. It was long, drawn-out, and ugly, and at the end of it all, another one of the beautiful places I’d spent part of my life in was gone in a stupid, wasteful death that benefitted nobody.

    And then… just when things started to make sense again, our housemate was diagnosed with endrometrial cancer that August.

    Life stopped while we helped her. Like you, we had to set our business aside to help our loved one. And like you, there wasn’t really anyone to help take up the business-based slack.

    Thankfully, also like you, there were people to listen, and to help on the supportive side of things, and that made all the difference.

    2012 was about learning to move forward. Fortunately, the cancer was the kind that was solvable with an operation. She went through a course of radiation, just to make sure, but slowly, things started to come to a place of peace again.

    Progress… that came harder. Unfortunately, Michigan is NOT one of the states that has a entrepreneurial support program in place, so after Mike’s initial unemployment ran out, we had to make a decision. To get the extended version would have meant jumping through hoops that would have taken a ton of precious time away from our business, so we took a leap of faith and said ‘no’. Fortunately, our housie was willing to take up the slack for a time while we grew things to where they could support us.

    When Nicole offered what became her ‘Rockstar Roadies’ program in the summer of 2012, I got one of the biggest Nudges I’ve ever gotten so far in my life. The crossroads connected with that Nudge was HUGE and so I took a deep breath and pounced, even tho’ her very modest fee was a substantial chunk of change for us at the time.

    And then things started to get better. I’ve always known that I had a block against growing my business because I knew I didn’t know the business side of it.

    Nicole helped Mike & I fix that, and slowly, but steadily, it became safe to grow.

    We’ve also started to find our real tribe, as that confidence has let us speak up about our real experiences, and share stories about who we really are.

    Now, for 2013, I have this feeling that this year is going to be big.

    Huge, even. :>

    And in the most wonderful of ways. 🙂 :>

    So hang in there, hon. You’ll come back to us. I have faith. And the Quirkypreneurs will ring out loud across the Internetz once more, and the cats will bounce merrily upon their trampolines at all hours of the day and night. 🙂 :>

    In the meantime & beyond, if you ever need a Listening Ear, you know how to find me. 🙂 :>


  3. Oh I totally know what you mean, Tori. The last 18 months have really brought home to me just how vulnerable we are as self-employed, small business people. Often there is only ourselves to rely on and sometimes life gets in the way. My art and all other work are currently on hold as I recover from a devastating break-up, the jars and a house move. I am OK but very burnt out and it turns out that rebuilding your life from scratch takes quite a lot of energy.

  4. This is where I’ve been at too, Tori. And I like so much that you are not apologizing or hand-wringing, just acknowledging that life sometimes has its way with us. I had a big high coming off my fundraising campaign for my book last year, and then suddenly we were moving to a new city and I was sick most of the fall and had a big contract that prevented me from finishing the book on the schedule I had promised. And I have the best supporters, because no one has complained or given me grief about it.

    2013 has already felt more stable under my feet, and I’m nearly finished the big contract and chomping at the bit to complete the book. Feels good. Hugs to you!

  5. Tori Deaux /

    Alison, Kirsty, Birdy & Christie: Thank you for your comments & thoughts — I think the more of us speak up about the way life gets in the way, the better for all of us! We hear so many promises and pep talks, so little about the stumbling blocks.