At the beginning of Covid, March 15th to be precise, and also my birthday, I made a list. I am a perpetual list maker, a story board creator, a sticky note addict, writing endless plans of what I need to do, want to do. All part of the creative process, I tell myself. To do lists and life plans and organizational charts, brain dumps, then reorganizations of all of the lists when I realize that this lists I have poured my heart out in creating for the future me have sat there waiting for that very future me.
List making is an active process. My personal theory of list making is to get out all of the endless brain jumble on to some magic space under the illusion that I am in my highest state of creative fire.
This is a truth. When I am in that space where all things — everything, all thoughts, diagrams, ideas, are mysterious possibilities waiting for the magic wand to work that is my process, there is a momentum that takes hold of me that is a force like no other.
Once I get it all out and my walls are covered with bright neon sticky notes, labeled with matching sharpie colors, I walk away. It is like the serenity of the bed time ritual when you have washed up, changed clothes, and that first slide into those clean sheets you washed that day. There is a calm that washes over me when I go through this experience of pure fiery creation and it reminds me that if and when I set my mind to something, results happen.
This process has worked for me for most of my life. Many sticky notes sit there in wait, screaming, Pick me pick me! hoping they will be the chosen ones for the next big project. More times than not though, most just stay put, right where they are. But two or three that do come to fruition become the magic bullets that take my ideas to super strength action.
For an entrepreneur, this is one of the high points. Creation. Design. Having the idea and then marching forth or sprinting towards. The energy of the experience is a fulfilling high that is unmatched in any other experience.
There is this funny meme going around with the title Coronacoaster, and it explains the absolute mayhem that this virus has created both on our outsides and in our insides. All true. Covid has activated me and many other business owners I know in a way that has taken my breath away.
I have experienced the deepest moments of connection with like minded women and have formed new friendships I never knew I needed as much as I do. I have released other friendships, not for any malice, but have found they just don’t offer as much connection as I have found myself needing at this time.
I have shifted the way I think about my business, my life, my future, my team, my ideas and frankly, my entire existence. Some foreign thoughts that have made their way into my brain have been sharp and painful ones of self loathing that I never saw coming. I have had the extreme experiences of heightened sensitivity to my surroundings and to the things people say or don’t say that made me feel like an eighth grader not getting invited to a sleepover.
At times, I haven’t recognized myself.
I have had surges of power and revelations that have felt like a tsunami. I have had moments of such deep connection with my soul that my eyes have become wet with joy at the realizations. And these thoughts and ideas are like fire crackers, short quick pulsing sounds, moments of quiet, big bangs, smoldering fire, ashes and rewind, repeat until there is silence. Just silence.
If I hear the word, unprecedented, one more fucking time…. BUT IT IS.
There are no handbooks or resources to hitch a ride on. We are all going though this unique and often simultaneously frightening and energizing time together as a world. We are experiencing it differently depending on pretty much everything. Socio economics for one, employee, employer, mother, father, child, grandparent.
Holy crap. It is a total mind fuck.
I started my pre-covid original list on a large sheet of poster board. It had the audacity, the cockiness even, to say as its title, “At the end of Covid, I will have accomplished….” (Insert cringing and laughing here). That there would actually be an “after covid” in itself seems absurd four months later, but at least then I had hope.
I seldom lose hope.
It is here that I wrote a list that even pre-covid would have been a set up to fail. I don’t even know where the fucking list is now. What I do know is what I didn’t accomplish like actually finishing the pile of books I have on my nightstand. And I hope I never find that original list because it will likely just add insult to injury at this point.
One amazing experience that has risen from the burning Covid flames is the three writing groups I have started. We write from prompts and share the work weekly, a salvation to say the least. I have a category in my collections of writings called, Covid Time. It contains all of the pieces I have started.
And there they sit. Like some of my lists. I have started over ten different pieces and stopped. Unfinished. Highly unusual for me. Previously, I had no challenge finishing my writings, but this experience has left my brain foggy and rumpled and somewhat demobilized.
I have moments of extreme clarity and other moments of such confusion and failure. Being a business owner during this time has added another layer of worry and concern. I have had to make decisions I never thought I would have to make. I am still making them and I will likely have to make more. As I make them, at the same time I have found myself crippled with the decisions. After all, how can these decisions not be taken personally? I am trying to save my company so there is a company for people to actually have employment at.
Many days I have just wanted to crawl back into bed and cancel out the noise. But I don’t. Because I embrace a good challenge, or maybe I am a glutton for punishment. I will prevail. My company will prevail. I know this. It is just the dark grey area I haven’t been able to define.
This shit is real and that feels as cliche as using the word unprecedented.
And sometimes I forget this. I am not the only one going through this experience as a business owner. I don’t know what the future holds for my type of business, the beauty business- the hands on in your literal face high touch super intimate experience that I have loved and promoted for my entire adult life.
There are extreme moments of hope and despair and back to hope in the same minute.
One of my beauty heroines, the one and only Estee Lauder has been quoted as saying,
“I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.”
Working is what I have done. Every business leader and entrepreneur I know works hard at success.
The difference between owning a company versus working for a company is that the dreams become calls to action. The screaming notes fighting for recognition, the endless to do lists, the reimagining of your brand to save your company during a global pandemic require such vast amounts of thinking and planning and reconsidering.
And I am exhausted. I don’t give up easily. But sometimes the stopping is just what the health and wellness of the fabric of my being scream for.
And that is not on the list.