I feel like every year over the past five years has been life changing, some good, some bad. My feeling is that any change is good. If you stay in the same place you go nowhere. Some people may say that sounds good. Personally, I think that sounds boring. While I don’t like the lemons that change sometimes presents, I do like that I am living life and not wishing it away. I used to wish my life was different for so many years during my childhood and my 20-year marriage. But nothing changes if nothing changes. So, five years ago I started on my life of changes to find the real me and what makes me happy.
When I decided to end a 20-year marriage in 2012, it was not an easy decision. It was downright scary. But it needed to end, neither of us were happy and we were not good together. Then three years ago deciding to just pick up my life and relocate from Western Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina without a job or prospect of a job was terrifying for a small-town country girl, but I needed to do it. I needed to relocate to actually get to know me without influence from outside noise.
Fast forward to 2017, after a stressful end to 2016 where my job was causing me health issues, I needed to evaluate my life again. Christmas 2016 I spent with a friend in Nashville and he told me that I was not happy with my job and I need to figure out what makes me happy. Which was good advice. Add on top of that my doctor telling me my job was going to cause me to go to the hospital or worse. I needed to figure the next step in my life out and do it soon.
January 2017, I reflected on my life. What makes me happy? What do I want to do with my life? Those may seem like easy questions, but they were not. I kept thinking about my next steps. Did I want to remain in the Corporate world in upper Corporate Finance? Did I want to take a step back in my career because of stress? Did I want to give up and go back to Pennsylvania? The big question was, what would make me happy?
If you remember from previous blogs, I’m a very analytical person. So, I am always looking at the “what if” and analyzing the past to predict the future. In the roles I had in the corporate world, I was good with analyzing and predicting. It was not always what upper management wanted to hear, but I was usually pretty close with my analytics. However, predicting my personal life has always been a challenge.
I decided in February to quit my corporate job and start my own business. The determining factor in my decision was “regret.” I did not want to be on my death bed (in like 50 years) regretting not taking chances or following dreams. I have lived 2017 (and the past 5 years) without regrets. That doesn’t mean that every decision I have made was good. It just means I will not be wondering “what if” because I took the risk. For example, I told someone special how I really felt about them in January, only to be turned down. While it hurt, I took the chance, I no longer wonder what he would have said, I know and could move on.
When I gave my resignation in February I was going to work until the end of April. However, due to the way I was being treated, I changed my resignation to middle of March. I knew that shaving six weeks off of my original resignation would affect me financially, but I also knew that my mental health was far more important than money. I have no regret on the decision to leave that job or to leave it early.
March, April and May were active months and definitely “no regrets” months. Not only did I leave a job, start a business, and decide to move again, I also started dating. I joined an online site (hadn’t done that for a few years), and went out with six different guys. It was a good experience and a couple were potential for relationships, but none of them worked out. I decided to concentrate on the business and not worry about love, at least for now. I guess it will happen when its supposed to, at least that is what people tell me.
Once I determined that the historical district of York, South Carolina was going to be my new home and location of my store, I spent April, May and June preparing the retail space and packing my apartment in Charlotte. In the middle of all this I had to put one of my cats (Lucky) to sleep. Finding out her major organs were failing and that she was so sick really set me into emotional turmoil. Anyone who says to me “it’s just a cat” or “it’s just a pet” does not understand how animals have helped me through some of the worst lemons in my life. I will never belittle the loss of pet to anyone. To me they are family. I still struggle with her loss. Lucy misses her too. I can tell she still misses her buddy. I hope to get Lucy a friend sometime in 2018.
The opening was supposed to occur in June for the store, but as with remodeling a historical space, lemons kept occurring. We did open finally on my birthday in July. That was my birthday present to myself. I typically have bad birthdays. My thinking at the time was if I open on my birthday then my future birthdays won’t be bad because they will be anniversaries of my store opening. At the same time, I was opening the store, a beloved aunt passed away in Pennsylvania. I could not make it back there for the funeral. My cousins and mother understood. It still made me sad not to be with family during that time.
The grand opening occurred in August. I wanted to have the grand opening a few weeks after the initial opening so I could get the pulse of the community on the candy they wanted to see in the store. That would give me time to get opinions and order the necessary items. I have stocked my shelves by listening to suggestions from customers. I still have several suggestions that I am trying to get into the store. The Life After Lemons Candy Store was one of the biggest grand openings in downtown York. That was due to my friends constantly sharing the event, other local business owners, customers, and followers letting others know. Thank you to everyone who made that a successful day for the Candy Store and continue to support the store and me.
September presented a couple challenges. The first one was hurricane Irma. It was originally projected to hit South Carolina, but it changed paths and was going to directly hit Florida. My cousin and her husband came to my place to stay for a couple days since where they live in Florida was in the middle of the revised projected path. I was happy that I could provide them with a safe place to stay.
The other challenge in September was the boycott of my store from some people who thought my blog about suicide prevention was too controversial and inappropriate for the Life After Lemons Candy Store. I have slowly recovered from the boycott. I know I lost some customers over it, but as I’ve written in past blogs and on my Facebook page, the candy store would not be here without the blog. They are always going to be one world for me. The Candy Store is my life after lemons and the blog is how I have dealt with the lemons in my life.
November presented a big lemon with the candy store when we had sewage issues that started Thanksgiving Day and did not get resolved until the following Monday. Besides having plumbers, terrible smells and messes to deal with, I could not make candy. As you all know I make all my candies/treats fresh, so I was in the middle of making stuff Thanksgiving Day when all of the issues started. This included the specialty gourmet apples and caramel filled treats which were my biggest sellers on non-busy weekends. But not being able to capitalize on them Black Friday and Small Business Saturday really hurt the candy store financially going into the holiday season.
December started out with a death in my family. I lost an uncle who was like a father to me. I was very upset I could not make it back to Pennsylvania to attend the funeral and speak. He had asked me in 2014 when I spoke at my dad’s funeral and my aunt’s funeral if I would speak at his when he passed. Not being able to honor that request affected me emotionally, so I did the next best thing and wrote the eulogy in a blog. You can read the eulogy I wrote on my blog called Life is Precious. I wrote what I would have said had I been at the funeral.
This was my first Christmas season having the candy store and thanks to all my customers it was a great season. I know that next year will be better because I know how to prepare the store and what all I need to have on hand already made. Plus, I’m hoping the Lemons slow down by then.
2017 was definitely a big year for me both good and bad.
Ultimately, it took a medical situation for me to follow my dream. If it wasn’t for the corporate job causing me an overload of stress, I would probably have stayed and not been happy. My body knew the only way to get me out of a bad situation was to start shutting down and make me reevaluate my life.
While 2018 is going to start with a major lemon situation, I’m still going to go into 2018 feeling hopeful and happy that it will be a good year for Life After Lemons (Candy Store & Blog) and me personally.
I wish all my friends, family, customers, and followers a healthy, happy, loving, and prosperous 2018. You all deserve it. Thank you for everything you do to support and love me. I wouldn’t be here without you all.