More than a tagline

One of the stories I tell about my business (Sheldrake Consulting) is: “After 18 years, I quit my stable job in higher ed and took my business full-time.” Technically, this is true. But it’s not the whole story. It took me five years to build my business and muster the courage (kick in the behind, really) to give it a go. Five. years.

I started writing resumes in 2012. Students were advising themselves on all things career- not a good idea. I saw a gap and I volunteered to fill it. I started helping them write their resumes and cover letters. I did this- for free- eek! for almost a year. Finally, I started asking for LinkedIn recommendations in exchange for my time and expertise. About a year after that I charged non-student clients a very small fee. Very small.

In 2015, I finally chose a name for my company and became an LLC. I increased my fee. Then, I increased it again.

My former “career” started to unravel in 2016. I was being bullied and abused by upper management and it became clear that there was no future in that role. Then, in 2017, “after 18 years, I quit my stable job in higher ed and took my business full-time.” In June I will celebrate one full year as an n of 1. While terrifying (it still is), it wasn’t that big of a stretch to go full-time. I had been doing it for years. I had practice. I was getting referrals. I had saved enough money to hire a graphic designer to create a real logo. And my business is what I have always done- helping others be better versions of themselves.

Don’t be wooed by “overnight success stories.” There’s no such thing. Starting a business is more than a tagline. You have to want it and you have to work for it. Entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, side-hustlers, small business owners got where we are because we put in the time, money, blood, sweat, tears, self-doubt, and sleepless nights to make our ideas reality. You can, too! I believe that. Everyone has something to offer. If your next adventure involves setting out on your own- go for it! The self-employed/small business community is awesome and supportive. Be smart and strategic. Keep doing the next right thing. Take small steps each day and that will take you all the way home. Good luck!

 

Who am I NOT to?

I write amazing blog posts.

In my head. While I am in the shower. The words and water flow with equal force and cleansing power. I am profound, smart, funny. I am fired up and ready to break the writing slump.

Then I sit here and…doubt. Insecurity. Fear. Creep in. Actually, not creep. More like trample me. They pummel me until I give in and the blinking cursor becomes too much and I distract myself with Facebook and Instagram. And if it were not Lent, also red wine.

Social media is the worst place to be when spiraling in impostor syndrome. Except today. While scrolling a writer I admire and respect posted this link to an article about the real meaning of self-care.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

Looking failures in the eye. Letting go. Choosing new. Oof. I am not particularly strong in any of these things. I’ve stopped myself from a lot, mostly writing, because I doubt the universality or applicability of my experience. If it doesn’t resonate with everyone, then it’s not worthwhile.

This afternoon my ten year old son participated in a student-led parent teacher conference. Twenty Google slides and 10 minutes of talking about himself and school. Friends, favorite subjects, what he excels in, where he needs development. It was totally awesome (Yeah public schools and tax dollars at work!) and inspiring. He was terrified. He did it anyway. He was awesome and inspiring.

Brene Brown says that we need to stop looking for proof of our un-belonging, because we will always find it. If this is true, which I believe it is, then, the opposite is also true. If we look for evidence of belonging, then will also find that.

I found validation in a quote on Facebook. I found courage in the hazel eyes, messy hair, and shaky voice of my ten year old son. I re-found my voice and went back to the notes I had hastily scribbled after I got out of the shower this morning.

Questioning the value of my story is a huge disservice to the work it took me to get here.

Who am I to write about myself, life, parenting, writing, coaching, friendship, love, family, faith?

I am the expert on my own life. Who am I not to?

Who am I not to blog post idea

Eulogy for my father

My dad died very suddenly on October 20. I was asked by my mom and siblings to give the eulogy. This was the hardest piece I’ve ever written. I hope I did you proud, Dad. I miss you and love you.

“Thank you, all, for being here and supporting our family with your love and prayers.

I loved watching Dad shine shoes.

He’d gather the necessary supplies and lay them out in order of how he would use them. First, he laid down a towel or newspaper. Then, place one shoe on his left hand and use his horsehair shoe brush to remove dirt and old layers of polish. I can hear the quick flick of the brush bristles scratching across the leather. And I can smell the polish.

He’d sprinkle a tiny amount of water into the lid of the Kiwi shoe polish tin. Then, he would wrap an old t-shirt tightly around his right index finger. Dip his finger in the water, then the polish, and rub the shoe in small, counter-clockwise circular motions, starting at the toe and working his way down one side to the heel and back up the other to the toe. After drying- sometimes overnight- he rubbed the shoe until he could see his reflection shining in the leather.

It was a methodical process that he loved. It had a beginning, a clear path, and a definitive end. Shining shoes was a metaphor for how he viewed the world and lived his life.

He was hard-working and generous. He cheered for us- sometimes too loudly- at soccer games, swim meets, and crew regattas- all activities that he made possible for us. He and mom provided the foundation on which we’ve built our lives. That foundation is strong and true, and deeply rooted in love and devotion.

He pushed us to high standards that sometimes felt impossible to reach. I know now that they were his way of saying ‘I love you and I want the best for you.’

He was organized and focused. At his house, Kiki found Christmas gifts that he had already purchased for us. And, if it were November, those presents would have been wrapped and labeled.

Dad was always early for events and appropriately dressed- jacket, tie, and those shiny shoes. He was there for all of it: baptisms, birthdays, holidays, graduations. I feel  untethered knowing he will miss so many of them in the future. 70 was too young.

He was a prolific reader who was in his element discussing current events or the state of his beloved sports teams. He did crossword puzzles in ink. He could drive somewhere once and remember every detail of the trip and then give you directions.

He loved and spoiled his nine grandchildren. He adored them. He contentedly held them as infants and rejoiced in showing them how to run the Lionel trains at Christmas. It was especially fun to watch him try to corral them for photos. And just this summer he treated them to a week at the shore, complete with tons of seafood, pizza, and rides on the Ocean City boardwalk- like he did for the four of us when were little.

I’ll remember and cheer him every time I have fresh berries, lemon desserts, chocolate Tastykakes, a soft pretzel or an amber beer, and I hope you will, too.

We miss you already, Dad. We love you. Semper Fi.”