I firmly believe that the bereaved don't have to do anything. I mean, I do think they have to pursue some basic steps to take care of themselves and not actively hurt others. I'm talking more about the legacy work that often comes after death. When, in the name of their deceased loved ones, people start foundations, non-profits, scholarships, 5K runs, memorial luncheons, concerts, balloon releases, writing memoirs, hiking really far and for many days, etc. If you want to do any of these things, that's wonderful (except for the balloon release!), but it's easy to feel guilty about the way you do or don't publicly maintain your loved one's legacy.
We're designed to root for triumph over tragedy and expect a happy ending. I wouldn't be surprised if people are thinking that it's wonderful that I'm turning my pain into action. I don't see it that way. I'm doing something that I think needs to be done, but I also believe that it would be totally OK if I weren't doing it. Starting a business is really hard and so much of the back end stuff is so dull or difficult or both. Like how it took me two hours to figure out how to add a drop-down feature to our menu bar (BTW - did you check out the new drop-down feature on the ⬆️ menu bar ⬆️? Pretty cool, huh?).
I have never been one of those people who wanted to start a business. The whole process has always mystified me. When a former colleague started a wedding planning business (now-a-days we'd call it a side-hustle) while we were working together, I was baffled. But...how? What's an LLC? How do you find customers? What about taxes? How do you figure out prices? Who do you call if you're sick?
My dad was really successful in business and eating out at fancy restaurants by the time he was 30 (at first I wrote by the time he was my age, but I'm now closer to 40 and he was quite a bit younger than me). His office was in an old mansion in Yonkers, NY and it felt like a very important place. He had a room full of typewriters and a color television he could wheel in whenever he wanted (this was the late 1980s, I'm not sure why I thought it was luxurious to have a color TV). One memory has my sister and I sitting on the couch in his office eating cracker jacks. I felt like a queen. Another time a disgruntled gentleman told me I was being too loud as I frantically typed important gibberish memos on the electric typewriter.
My dad (with his dad) early on in his career.
I can't ask my dad about it now, but I wish I could because I'm super perplexed. Even as kindergartener, when asked to bring in artifacts from your parents' jobs and speak about their careers, I brought in his loafers with tassels. I had no idea what he did (still don't...something with life insurance). He had an office and wore suits and went to conferences. He got awards made from cut glass triangles etched with his name. He gave speeches. There were no computers. All he had on his desk was a pen, a landline, a cute little painted-rock ladybug my sister made him, and a placard with his name on it. How did he do it? All I've managed today is to make shelves for the handwritten cards we send with the Compassion Packages. I decided it would be best to be resourceful and budget conscious and build them from scrap-wood. It took me 3 hours longer than I expected.
Don't look too closely at my craftswomanship. Before you get impressed, I only built the white ones.
Creating a business takes grit and persistence and motivation and a clear head. All things I've lacked since August 9, 2017. I probably would have been much better suited to start a business back in 2010. I was energetic and passionate and level-headed. Fresh out of grad school, I was ready to solve problems. I feel like I no longer have anything in common with that energetic and confident young soul. So, in case you were thinking it's all fun and games over here (I doubt you were since I spent the past five paragraphs talking about my confusion and inefficiencies and lack of direction), what follows is a behind-the-scenes look into the life of a reluctant & bereaved entrepreneur:
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