Considering I am now 54 years old I am from the generation many of you are or close to it. In my life time I've seen technology take over the world. I remember being a child and my best friend, Rene, was all excited because they got a "color" TV. She talked about things being in color and got me so excited about it I couldn't wait to see it. I remember asking my Mom if I could go to Rene's house to watch this new color TV and got the ok, so Rene and I were off, we walked up the street, talking about everything and nothing at the same time. We were all of 5 years old. I couldn't wait. We sat down in her living room turned it on and there I sat with my eyes full of excitement, only to see a black and white show on the screen. Rene started changing channels, but not matter which channel she went to, the show was black and white. I remember thinking, surely something is wrong with their new TV. Her Mom was there so I said, "Mrs. Taylor, how do you make the shows color, everything is still in black in white". She kind of chuckled and said, "the show has to have been recorded in color in order for it to appear in color". Well that didn't make any sense to me at all, and I thought this thing is just a big waste of money. Having no patience at all as 5 year olds are, Rene and I were out the door to do something fun. I had declared at that time, color TVs were a waste of money in my young mind.
I grew up looking at technology through those same eyes all of my life. I remember my first class I took at work about "the internet". The class was a bomb and nothing worked as it was supposed to. I sat there at the age of 35 remembering my 5 year old experience and thinking "internet is stupid, it does't even work".
Now here I am at 54 and my husband is making a living using technology and the internet. But the most shocking has to be the world I created on the internet. The 5 year old who thought color TV was a bust, has made hundreds of beautiful, real friendships on the internet. Who would have thought!, certainly not me.
I've always been very open with my virtual social world. I'm a trusting soul who has believed their entire life, my life's experiences were not only real, but maybe more common then others let on. I've always thought sharing would help me fit in and people would realize I was more like them then it appeared. I thought sharing might help someone else feel they were not the only one. So, sharing like I always have on social areas of the internet was nothing new for me, I've always shared, the internet just gave me more platforms to do it and the ability to reach a lot more people.
Through sharing and being real I connected with so many of you. I think the part that surprised me the most has been the stories many of you have shared about how my sharing had a positive effect in one way or another on your life. That definitely makes me feel my life had a purpose as ugly as it was at times. Knowing it had a purpose changes everything about how I feel about my past. If it had a purpose, then it was all worth it and sharing was the best thing I could have ever done with those experiences. It inspires me to continue sharing.
As Mike has told you, I've not been well. I know you have all reached out in every way you can to help and be TRUE friends. I think some of you would have come through the computer to help if you could. I have been going through a bad time, and I know many of you have wondered what has happened and you've only been left with a lot of speculation. After I received so many beautiful cards and messages from many of you, I knew I needed to end the speculation and share with you all in my words what has happened.
I don't recall the exact day, but the day Mike shared I had suddenly become ill and he was taking over, the YT and FB were gone and basically so was I, was a really scary morning. I have always struggled with stress. Have you ever noticed in life, whatever your best quality is, is also your worst? For me that's very true, and my best quality is my ability to get a million things done, keep all my commitments, and not let anyone down. It's also my worst quality. So that I can do my best quality, I never let my mind or body rest. I never say, "it can wait until tomorrow". So I had this going on.
Then there was all the social areas on the internet I was involved in. Some of that was getting very difficult for me. I put my heart and soul into everything I share and lay it on the table basically. On YT I had to turn my "thumbs up/down" off because I had haters who actually waited for my videos to pop up and they would thumbs down them immediately. I would always have a couple thumbs down within minutes. Only I could see them, but that was the point. And because my videos were different, I frequently had people who would go to older videos and criticize how I spoke, the backgroud noise, the stories I told, etc. They would be really mean, and despite what anyone would say to the contrary about ignoring them - words hurt, and they stay in my mind, because that's just who I am. So, I had this factor going on.
Then there was the desperation we have for needing help in the store. That's been something I never thought would be so hard. First, I never thought the store would grow that large. But it did, and help was and is necessary. We tried local and long distance help, only to have it go south in every case. I won't go into details but I will say in every case I made the mistake of taking what happened personally. The problem for me is, if it happens again the future, I'm sure I will take it personally then too. It's who I am. So, there was this aspect of my life to deal with.
The store is an entity all it's own. It's probably the most misunderstood I would imagine. I can't tell you how many times I would hear, "I think your little store will be a success". I won't get into numbers here, except for one. The store grew very fast as many of you who have been there since the beginning know. Mike was able to quit his job literally years before we ever expected, and we were able to live our dream by moving to the country years before we ever thought we would be able to. The store is in the top 2% of all Shopify stores right now and from what we've learned is the size of a store that should have a staff of about 7-8 people running it. It's doing well, so well Shopify also wants to run a feature story on the succes of it. I always tried to make each and every customer feel they were the only one. That was good, because I wanted people to feel as special as they really are to us, and it was bad because there were times people were asking for things they would never ask a bigger store to do, not realizing we had become a bigger store, and they would get angry with me if I explained to them we just were not staffed to meet their request (for example, I frequently had customers ask me to email them before ordering items from a company they liked, just to check if they needed anything, I would get asked to email customers when something they wanted would be coming in so they didn't have to watch for it on their own or watch the "what's in the store" videos. People got angy with me when they would ask me to update their account information and I would instead explain they can do that on their own, or re-booting their computer because something wasn't working properly on their computer). I was noticing more and more, that because I had been very responsive and one-on-one with each customer, if anything was a bit confusing, or they had the smallest amount of difficulty, rather then try to figure it out themselves first, they immediately emailed me. With 1500+ customers it became impossible to please everyone. It was very clear many people see the store as a small store with maybe 4-5 orders a day, and just hoping for more business. When in reality the store does anywhere from 30-70 orders a day. Those that were not pleased did not hold back in letting me know they weren't. When someone wants to be mean from the safety of behind a computer screen they can be very ugly. We refuse to do business with those that behave this way, but again the words stick with you, and since I tried so hard to make sure everyone was taken care of the words stung. So this was going on.
I didn't just feel pulled in every direction, I was. The store receives at least 60-100 emails a day alone. I also had people with a lot of unrealistic expectations giving me grief in misdirected ways and at abusive levels, clearly saying things they would never have been brave enough to say in person. I had viewers on YT telling me what to make next, and HOW to make it. They would see an older project I had done and ask me to do one like it, but in a specific theme they were requesting. If I didn't craft for a few days because I was swammped in every other area of my life viewers would start writing saying "you need to craft more". That would really anger Mike. He saw how busy I was and couldn't believe the requests and demands people were making. In every direction people were telling me all of "things I should be doing" to entertain them.
The night before I became ill there was some challenges going on with someone who I had at one time thought was a good friend. I was getting emails that had a threatening tone to them, and it was just the end for me.
I had not shared this with anyone, but I had begun having small panic attacks, they were manageable, but they had begun. After that night with the unpleasant emails, it just all came together like a storm and I woke up about 7:00am unable to breath and had pain in my chest like I was having a heart attack. Mike rushed me to the ER and fortunately it was not a heart attack, but it was by far the worst panic attack I have ever experienced.
That was it for Mike, and now I'm in the background. I don't see any emails, the channel is gone, my world is now quiet and it feels really good.
The only thing I miss is blogging, because I do love to write. I've never had any demands put on me here, no one has ever asked anything of me, or requested I do something else here for their entertainment, so I may continue this, I haven't decided for sure yet. It's why I chose this format to share what's been going on, why things are as they are, and to say Thank you.
I want to Thank the many of you who have sincerely care about my well being. Those that have taken the time to send me a card to share their concern, or to share a little story about what my sharing helped them get through something, or a time in their life. All of this means more to me then you could ever image. I want to thank those of you who have only cared if I got better.
I'm getting better, but it's a slow process. I've been drained to complete emptiness and it will take a long time for me to recoup from that. I need time to take care of myself. I don't trust even opening an email for fear of what it might say because I have no energy to deal with anything right now. It will take a long time to come back from this place I'm currently in. It's not a good place, but it's my place right now and as dark as it is I know being out of the reach of demands is necessary.
As I mentioned I miss writing. I don't think I'm up to writing often, and not sure if I'm up to sharing my past, but as I do get there, I will have Mike let you know in an email through the store.
Thank you again for supporting him in his efforts to run the store on his own. He's done fabulous and and I'm so proud of him. He's also been a protective and wonderful husband. He's my rock right now that's for sure.
You all have a wonderful week. We are leaving tomorrow morning for our much needed vacation. Mike loaded the store with all the product coming in this week and he told me he has a giveaway planned for his return. So enjoy the store as well while we are gone.
Again, thank you for the cards, you just don't know how special they are to me. My eyes about pop out of my head every time Mike brings them home from the Post office because there are so many!!! My being gone doesn't mean I love any of you less, I need to be gone so I can love you all more in the future!