So I fell off the Cabbage Patch blogging wagon. While I started off with a blogging bang, I quickly lost my groove. One day without blogging turned into another, then another, yet another, and before I knew it, an entire year had passed by. An entire year! What in blue blazes happened?
Life happened. Chronic health issues continued to dog me. Stress, both personal and professional, took its toll. Before I knew it, I was couch surfing, Netflix binging, Candy Crush Saga playing, and eating whatever salty and sweet treats I could find in the house. I was doing anything and everything I could to avoid my situation and my life.
But one day I finally woke up and, even though over one year has passed since that awakening, I am still amazed by the event that caused it. It wasn’t a near death experience which sometimes causes people to affect major changes in their lives nor was it a bolt of lightening striking me from the high heavens and setting my mind ablaze. Rather, it was something that other people might shake their heads at in utter disbelief causing them to ask, “Really, that is all it took?”
Really. This is all it took. After months of dealing with dissatisfied and rude customers (my business had not recovered from its devasting 48% retail sales decline, a consequence of almost seven months of road construction taking place in front of my gift shop, and my inability to restock it with new inventory), it took one GG (grouchy grouch) customer to awaken the giant within. This particular GG got in my face simply because I didn’t have a particular pendant in stock that he was looking for.
In my 14 years of customer service, never before had I felt vulnerable in front of a customer. This GG was so angry with me, he was leaning over the jewellery counter pointing his finger in my face and yelling at me. I explained that, being a small speciality store, it was impossible to have in stock every single Celtic piece of jewellery ever made. I explained how the construction had affected the business. I offered to order the pendant for him and have it at the store within three to five business days, the norm for this type of specialty item.
Nothing I said or did appeased him. In complete exasperation, he yelled, “So you’re telling me that you do not have THIS pendant in stock, right here, right now?” (his index finger was slamming against the jewellery counter with every word yelled). I stepped back and thought to myself, this behaviour can’t possibly be over a Celtic knot pendant, can it? Something else has to be going on but that still doesn’t excuse his behaviour. I closed the catalogue that was between us, walked to the bookcase and returned the catalogue to its rightful place. I turned to Mr. GG and replied, “That is exactly what I am telling you.”
And with those words I made up my mind that I had to change my life before I myself became a GG.
That evening I was quiet at home and somehow Sauerkraut knew that I needed to be that way. It was not until the next morning that he asked me, “You are very quiet. What’s wrong?” That’s when the floodgates opened, the tears starting running down my face and the words began flowing. “I cannot do the store any longer. It is sucking the life out of me. It is changing who I am. We have to close it before there is nothing left to me.”
I talked for a long time. Sauerkraut listened for a long time. I told him how the customers were changing. How there was this sense of entitlement now and that some people were beginning to think they could treat others any way they felt. I told him how there was this expectation of instant gratification regardless that we were a small speciality store and how it didn’t matter that the store was failing due to circumstances beyond my control. I told him how demanding and belligerent people were getting and I provided all the examples I could think of such as the woman who said, “You might want to consider getting some more greeting cards in. With the price of gas these days, I don’t want my next trip here to be a complete waste of my time” or the other woman who told me how “disappointed she was in me for letting the business fail” as if I was a five year old child who had done something terribly bad and on purpose.
Then I told him about Mr. GG’s Oscar winning performance. Sauerkraut’s face was displaying so many emotions, anger, sadness, empathy, concern. But it was the word’s that soothingly came from his mouth that told me that everything was going to be okay. He reassured me that this wasn’t my fault, that he knew this day was coming, that he knew what the store was doing to me, to us, but most importantly, he told me that he was going to get me out of this and help me get my life back.
We took the next week to plan our exit strategy and made a list of what had to be done in order to prepare the building for its sale. Sauerkraut worked his cabbage off over the next six months using his weekends to help me any way I needed. The building was placed in real estate in June of 2015 and I am happy to report that it was sold six weeks later. The closing date was September 30th and it has taken me until now to truly start to feel somewhat better. It didn’t help that I had the shingles virus while trying to pack up the store and that people who had never set foot in it before suddenly felt they had the right to come in and grill me on just what I thought I was doing. Others felt compelled to tell me just how devasted they were that I was doing this to them. It was ludicrous really.
Thankfully, it is all over and now behind me. I could easily have spent my time beating myself up over it, telling myself how awful I was at running a business, at blogging, at keeping a promise. I could have told myself that I was a failure and that I should have known that this would happen. I could have listened to that that inner voice telling me that if I truly wanted to blog, I would have made the time to do so. But that is not me. Me is knowing that eventually I would find my footing, find my resolve and definitely get my groove back. I have had enough trips around the Cabbage Patch to know that “this too shall pass” and that eventually I would come full circle and find my way back to me. Praise be for life’s lessons.
Which now brings me back to Stella and her lost groove … like Stella from the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”, I too had lost my groove. Unlike Stella, my getting my groove back did not involve a trip to Jamaica nor did it involve getting into the mischief that Stella found herself in once she got got back home from her vacation (although the thought of being somewhere warm being served tropical drinks by a ripped pool boy name Juan has a certain appeal to it). No, getting my groove back involved taking control of my life by stepping away from a toxic situation and starting over. And there most certainly is nothing wrong with that.
So, thank you, Mr. GG. Without even knowing, you awakened the cabbage within. Oh, and, you may now call me Stella.
P.S.: On the bright side of the patch, even though I wasn’t writing, I never forgot about my promise to YC. Since I knew that I would eventually find my way back to my promise, I kept notes in a folder on my laptop as well as on my iPhone. I left a trail of sticky notes from here to Timbuctoo about the new things I not only tried but could try. I wrote down possible blog titles, scratched a word here and there to jog my memory about something I did, and I prayed bunches to St. Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes) for his help in getting my blogging groove back. I also petitioned St. Anthony (patron saint for lost and stolen articles) for his help in finding my lost mind (which I knew to be lost rather than stolen because who the heck would want to steal this hodgepodge of a mind of mine?) but that is a whole other story. Stay tuned for these titles which are just waiting to be shared:
• The Christmas Stocking Purse
• Ringing in the New Year — Get a Room Donnie Wahlberg!
• The Eyebrow Pact
• Walker Rage
• Move Over Martha Stewart. There’s a New Crafter in Town
• Nightmares on Foresters Falls Road (Sauerkraut Needs Protective Gear)
• Greetings from the Camp
• Urology Waiting Room Entertainment