Monday, August 20, 2007

Where I Was. . . or Where Was I?

I truly appreciate every one's concern. I have been away for quite a while. Life just keeps getting in the way.

Since April I have putting a lot of energy into starting a company. In my lifetime I have gone from a career in metallurgical engineering, to one in decorative painting and now on to jewelry. The painting started as a hobby when my children were young and I was fortunate enough to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. It soon developed into a business with great flexibility. The jewelry also started as a hobby (okay, an obsession, LOL) and developed into a tiny business after I had to give up the painting a couple of years ago due to rheumatoid arthritis. Last summer I became a consultant for Luxe Jewels, a jewelry company I found interesting. It was a party format (like Tupperware) only at the party I could teach people how to make jewelry. I loved jewelry and teaching so this was a great match for me - especially since Luxe encouraged consultants to also sell their own personal designs at the parties. Luxe soon discovered that not everyone wanted to make their own jewelry, so they also came out with ready-to-wear styles in the last catalog. I have been doing well with the Luxe, well enough that I want to split my personal design business away from the Luxe, so I have been trying to build both businesses, which has been time consuming. I have sponsored several consultants and am really enjoying that aspect of the business, as I have been calling upon the project management skills I learned as an engineer. I have been devoting most of my energy to Luxe because I am at a ground floor level opportunity right now and want to build that business up as much as I can, as soon as I can. Besides, I've promised my husband to make enough money so he can retire :-) I was in San Francisco for the Luxe convention the first week of August and had a great time, drooled over the new jewelry - and I even earned a vacation to Cancun, for my sales last year. I enjoyed meeting our company founder and president at convention - Jessica Herrin is a brilliant young (34) woman who also co-founded when she was still in grad school. At any rate, I'm having fun with it :-)

I am also working on my personal business, but that is moving more slowly. I have a friend who is a graphic artist, working on my branding; she created my logo and is now working on business papers for me. Then another friend will be building my web site. I really want to build a brand, much as Luxe is doing.

In May my son came back from his first year of college. In addition to being a year "smarter" he came back a state-certified EMT. Along with his 15 college credits, he opted to take an EMT course, which was an additional 8 hours of classroom instruction per week, not including assignments and practices and Saturday sessions. I think this is his proudest accomplishment to date because it was something he did completely on his own, with zero prompting or input from mom and dad. He volunteers with his college EMS and surprised me with "EMT trivia." Can you guess what is the most common cause for EMT calls at college? No, not drunk students, but sports injuries! Okay, I have to admit I was a little surprised - and more than a little relieved! My son also applied for, and received, reciprocal EMT status in our home state and volunteers with our local FD EMS .

Soon after he came back, we flew out to St. Louis for my daughter's college graduation. Tim Russert was an excellent commencement speaker. This being our first time back in St. Louis since we dropped her off as a freshman, we took almost a week to explore the area and visit the Arch, zoo, art museum - and of course the brewery tour! I loved seeing the Clydesdales on the tour and also enjoyed the decorative work on the old parts of the brewery - delicate wrought iron work, beautiful mosaics and gorgeous decorative painting. The craftsmanship in some of the old buildings was just amazing.

June included a vacation to Florida, for which I needed a vacation when I got back. I had to put a last minute trip together when I finally got both my children's summer work schedules and the only place I could book with our timeshare was Orlando. So we did the Disney/Universal thing. Only my children are not babies anymore. There were no more stops for "nap time" or taking the afternoon off to sit by the hotel pool. Oh no! It was go go go all day long and into the night. Someone needed a nap time - and it was ME!

In July, my daughter started intensive training for Teach For America, teaching children in summer school during the morning and taking classes herself, in the afternoon - then writing up lesson plans late into the early morning hours. If she got five hours sleep a night, it was a lot. For all you teachers out there, my daughter - who was always a straight A student and who went to a top university - told me that writing lesson plans was the hardest thing she has ever had to do. Of course she also had to go apartment shopping because she needed a place to live by August 1st. It all came together for her - she got through the training, moved into her "cosy" (read: "tiny"!) apartment and we even went over to paint a couple of weeks ago. I still have the "Spicy Buttercup" paint in my hair to prove it, or so they tell me.

In July we also had some problems with my brother who has mental health issues, either compounded by, or caused by, being a drug addict for better than 30 years. It is so difficult to see someone we love make bad choices, time and time again, especially when it affects others, such as his children or my parents. There is no way to reach my brother as he plays the "victim" card and refuses to acknowledge he needs help.

Last week, we lost my dear mother-in-law. The one comment everyone made at the wake was how great she looked. The family had opted for an open coffin for family viewing, but closed for the public. Well, they decided to leave it open the whole time because she looked so good. She had been suffering for a couple of years with her illness and that took its toll. It was wonderful to see her at the end with all the pain and suffering erased from her face and to remember what she had been like before her illness. A wise priest of mine had once told me that death was the "ultimate healing" - looking at her, I could believe that. Of course, it was still very difficult for all of us, more so for my father-in-law who was so devoted to her and took care of everything the last two years.

Last week we also found out my husband's sister has breast cancer. We have been waiting to get past the funeral to deal with that and will know more after she goes for a consult at Sloan-Kettering tomorrow.

So there are my past few months, summed up in several paragraphs, some happy, some sad. But really, although my time has been at a premium, I do think there is one other reason that I have not corresponded here in a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I have a brother who is an addict. My father is also a recovering addict - not to drugs, but to gambling. He wreaked havoc on my family because of this when I was growing up, but has since been in a 12 step program for gamblers, for many years. Because of such addictive tendencies in my family, I always worry that I too may fall into it. When I start to get the tiniest bit compulsive about something I panic that I may be getting addicted. I think this was at the back of my mind with the blogging, where I was trying to comment and keep up with what everyone was writing, as well as coming up with my own blog essays. I knew it was taking up too much of my time, but I still kept up, not good with figuring out how to do things in moderation. Until I hit that "panic point" where I thought blogging could become one of those addictive things. Then I just quit, completely.

I have read your kind comments and concern over the months and I felt badly, knowing I should explain. So there you have it. I will try moderation for now, stick to a "once in a while" blog entry and comments and put blinders on for the rest and see how I do. I would love to catch up with all of your blogs, but won't permit myself to do so yet. I may not have that addictive personality that runs in my family, but I am fearful that I might.


Secret Simon said...

Hi Sunflower - It's great to hear from you after all this time. I was wondering how you were getting along. Congratulations on all the good things that have happened and commiserations for the others. I used to think that eventually a year would come along when only good things would happen. But now I realize that life just isn't like that.

I empathize with your blog-life balance problems! I've had to put my own blog on the backburner through a lot of this year due to moving house. This was frustrating on the one hand but also something of a relief, as it had all got very demanding. Now, after a bit of a break, I'm back with more enthusiasm again, so it's probably been all for the best. I must admit that when I started blogging - more or less on a whim! - I had no idea how time-consuming it would be. I just saw myself doing the occasional post. I had no idea that if I wanted people to actually *read* the things, I would have to go out and find them! Which is all great fun of course, but - as we know - extremely time consuming.

I hope you can manage to keep some involvement in blogging at a level with which you are comfortable. I must admit that I miss your frequent comments on my blog, and it would be great to see you there again, but not at the expense of your peace of mind!

Take care and try to keep in touch with us all. - Simon

Sunflower Optimism said...

Wow Simon - thanks for even being here after so many months of nothing :-)

Today we are off to bring my son to college, starting sophomore year. Which means Monday I have part of my life back - or at least my routine, LOL. Will try to post more then. I was thinking, maybe I need to use a timer or something - when it beeps, then it is what it is!

I honestly don't know how some people do it - I can't think that fast to write, scan other blogs and comment - in ten minutes or less!

Thanks again, your comment and support meant a lot :-)

Have to run, off to PA.

Kat said...

How nice to see you back, all happy and healthy! Your new business sounds very exciting. I hope the moderation thing works for you, I missed hearing about your doings.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Thanks Kat. I have thought of you all often. I hope your life is in a better place now - although you have surely made lemonade of whatever lemons life has thrown at you!

I have been busy preparing for a jewelry open house tonight - although I'm not expecting a great turnout, one must still prepare as if there will be, LOL. Note to self: The last week of summer is NOT a terrific choice for an open house!

CreekHiker said...

Sunflower - It's just great to know you are OK. Peace be with you and may your new business flourish.


Marion said...

Sunflower, I'm so happy to see you are back, if only in moderation. I've missed your wise comments, and have checked your site occasionally over the last while.

You're very wise to heed that little voice in the back of your mind that warns you of obsessions.Recognition of negative behaviours, to me, is most of the battle. Then I can do something about it.

Sounds like you've had a very busy, productive time!

Jackie said...

Whew, Sunflower, great post! You've got me all caught back up now. Seems as how 'life' has been happening to you in spades. I'm happy to hear of your 'good' things going on, and sorry about the 'bad'. Life is a mix, isn't it?
You must be really happy for your kids - and you should be proud. And proud of yourself! My gosh, you accomplish a lot. And you are talented, to boot!
Doesn't sound like moderation should be a problem for you...sounds more like you'd never find the time to do anything any other way! LOL
Glad to 'see' you, girl. :-)

Sunflower Optimism said...

Holly, thank you for your kind words. I hope all is well in your corner of the world! Give Mabel a hug for me :-)


Marion, if I remember correctly, I think you know of what I speak. It's a scary thing to fall into. Probably explains why I need to be such a "control freak" - although over the years I have realized where that aspect comes from and have let it go a bit.

I hope your flowers and garden are keeping you happy and busy!


Jackie, yes, I still "owe" you the story of my microwave light! It was fixed and we did have fun taping the repairman. He rally hammed it up for us, too - told us to enter it in "America's Funniest Videos"! I need to figure out how to blur his face and then figure out how to post to youtube.

Hope you are still enjoying your non-mobile home! Pretty soon - too soon - time to pick up and move to where the warm is.

Velvet Sacks said...

You wouldn't believe the joy I experienced this September morning when I clicked a link with no expectations and found that you've been here and posted. I've missed you so much.

Congratulations on your business success and on parenting two children who are clearly on the right path. Because of the positive energy I saw in your earlier writings, I'm sure the good things in your life more than outweighed the disappointments.

As happy as I am to hear from you, I totally understand how the compulsion to blog can get out of hand. I've cut way back, too, not writing as often and commenting infrequently, although it pains me not to let people know regularly how much their writing means to me.

Best of luck to you, Sunshine. Come back when you can.

Sunflower Optimism said...

Velvet, many thanks for not giving up on me! I have not allowed myself to go to other blogs yet. Yes, as you said, it pains me also not to be able to keep up with everyone.

We have had five young people visiting for the past several days - my children and three of my daughter's Teach For America friends. What a great group! Hmmm, I feel maybe a short blog post coming up. . .