Well, 2020 knocked me off-kilter!

How about you? This year has been one for the records. There’s no doubt it’s been full of anxiety, unpredictability, change, and growth.

 

 The Back Story

This is not a pity party post. There are far more stories of difficulties this year than mine. But to understand how I came to make some drastic changes in my life and in my business, you have to understand the back story.  We all have a back story.

For me personally, it was a tough year. It started off in January with great expectations for an exciting year for Zenso Creative™, a planned trip to Japan to see our oldest daughter and her family in March, trips to North Carolina to see our youngest daughter and her family, the end of the four-year renovation of our home in Florida, and a traditional summer visit to extended family in New England.

 

The Beginning Of The Crazy

After a rough patch with my business during the 4th quarter of 2019, I was eager to move forward in 2020.  Zenso Creative™ was doing well, artists were excited and working on their online art workshops, and we had a good group moving forward.

Things started to unravel for me personally, however, fairly quickly in 2020. January started out ok, then in February our beloved dog Bella was diagnosed with cancer. We had dear friends coming to take care of her while we went to Japan and we agonized over how that would all work not knowing what her treatment would be.

As the days unfolded, Bella’s health became worse and Covid 19 was rapidly making its way to the United States.

At the time, it seemed like the days were slow and agonizing, then the next thing we knew, we were in lockdown.  As we all know, the world literally stopped.  Japan was canceled.  Bella passed away.  Zenso Creative™ was still doing well but I could barely focus.

My heart was broken and I suddenly felt completely separated from those I love most in my life.  Thank goodness my husband and I have each other.  It was unfathomable to think we couldn’t even get to North Carolina!

My artists were struggling with their own anxiety over closed schools, lost business, and separation from their own families.  Getting new classes filmed was a monumental task and we were all in a bit of a whirlwind.  It was insanity at it’s finest.

 

Making The Best Of It

We tried to make the best of the downtime, baking bread, working on our Florida property, doing Facetime art classes with the grandchildren, catching up on some reading and, offering our Membership classes to students for free to help them pass the time.  Then we realized, some of our students couldn’t get the supplies they needed to take the classes!  WTF?  They were trying times.

 

Lightbulb Moments

But, in the midst of all this craziness, something really beautiful happened.  I had quiet time to reflect on all the things in my life that were working and those that weren’t.  I had an opportunity to see what unnecessary stressors were on both me and my husband.  And I decided things had to change.

First, I made a list of all the things that were weighing heavily on my mind.

1.  I loved helping artists grow their businesses and getting their art workshops online but I didn’t want the responsibility of hosting those workshops and being dependent on other’s productivity.

2.  I loved my little cottage in the woods that we’d renovated, but after four long years, it was too much maintenance and expense for my husband and me now that we are in our 60’s.

3.  I desperately missed my daughters and their families and I was so sad about my dog.

 

Taking Big Steps

I relied on a respected mentor to help me problem solve my business and together, my husband and I decided to make some personal changes.  It took a lot of soul searching but here’s what ended up happening in the end.

1. I decided to continue to help artists grow their businesses and assist them with their online art classes and workshops but in a way that they could independently host them themselves.  Zenso Creative™ is in the process of becoming a directory.  Students will be able to find the classes and workshops they most want to participate in and artists will be able to share details and contact information for their classes, workshops, products, special events, and additional work.

2.  My husband and I decided to sell our house, downsize to a house in a 55+ community right around the corner from our old house in Florida, and rent a small apartment in North Carolina for a year to be near our youngest daughter and her family.

3.  We have a long winter to get through before we know whether we can get to Japan this spring or not but we are hopeful.  It will be almost two years by the time we see our oldest daughter and her family again.  Our grandchildren have grown and changed so much.   We keep in touch via Facetime and know that they are almost halfway through their assignment in Japan and will be home “semi” soon.

These decisions were big decisions and we had many people questioning whether they were the right ones.  Here’s my advice on that one.  Only YOU know what is weighing you down and what changes YOU need to make for yourself, your family, or your business.  Listen to your heart.  I would trade a house for time with my children any day of the week!

 

My Everyday Reminders

Life is temporary.  Death is permanent.  Make those tough decisions and change your life for the better.  I’m not sure I would have made some of these decisions, even though I knew the previous business model for Zenso Creative™ and our property in Florida were causing  stress, if not for Covid.  It put everything into perspective.  Sometimes, we just don’t understand the lessons we’re meant to learn until we’re challenged to face them in the most difficult of times.

As I write this blog post, I am in the apartment in North Carolina, catching up on long lists of to-do’s after a busy and hectic move.  My youngest daughter, son in law and two of my grandchildren are right around the corner.  We can see each other anytime we want to.  Our home in Florida is there when we want to go back to the place we love, the warm sunshine and to many friends and visitors.

I finally have more time to be creative.  I was depressed without it.

Huge weights have been lifted off of my shoulders and that of my husband’s.  I am proud of both of us for working together and making decisions that ultimately ring true to us.

I hope that sometime, in the very near future, I will be writing blog posts about reuniting with our daughter and her family in Japan and the wonderful adventures we have planned there.  For now, I wish you well in these days ahead and hope you find the courage to make whatever changes you need to make to live the life you want to live!