what I have learned in 10 weeks

In no particular order, I feel like I want to share this list of things I've learned.  Perhaps you will find wisdom and avoid similar mistakes, or just have a laugh at my expense.  Either way, whether you find this blog post educational or entertaining (or maybe both) let me just say it has been a heckuva ride. In no particular order:

Trip happens.  I wear my flats until it's cold.  When it gets really cold, I wear socks in my flats.  And when it gets REALLY really cold, I break down and pull out my winter shoes.  Now, we happen to be in the process of trying to renovate our bathroom (for a second time, going on the 14th or 24th or something month of being a 6-member family with one shower stall in the basement) so we have some bathroom stuff in our bedroom.  Namely, there is a box containing my chandelier and a large mirror.  I also do not have one of those fancy-schmancy closet organizer things so the seasonal shoes are stored under the other bedroom closet-y things like duffel bags and clothes that fall off the hanger.  Now, when one is in a rush in the morning to catch a bus and one needs one's winter shoes from under one's collection of closet crap, one doesn't necessarily have time to stuff one's crap back in before bolting to the door.  This would not be problematic if one remembered the pile of closet crap beside the bed before walking much later that night, in a groggy haze, in complete darkness, to one's bed.  Hip, meet bathroom mirror.  I know that on some level I'm twisted to think how cute that my gaping wound is heart-shaped, and that the egg-sized bruise is very colourful and pretty...

When there is dog shit on your shoe, pretending that it doesn't stink doesn't actually stop it from stinking.  I think some guy did an entire "movement" (pun entirely intended) about this a while back that involved eating frogs.  Anyhow.  Procrastinating the inevitable is really stressful and time-consuming.  The more energy we pour into avoiding simple conclusions like we cannot make the unworkable work, save the unsalvageable, redeem the unredeemable, enlighten people who cling to their myths and beliefs and suspicions, the dead horse will not rise up and gallop again, the more it sucks our will to live.  Getting unfinished work completed, putting healthy boundaries on unhealthy relationships, starting a project that is overwhelming... all stressful until you actually just go ahead, dive in, and git 'er done.  So, when you've stepped in a pile of proverbial puppy poo, as much as you might like to think you can pretend it's someone else who reeks of turd, there are really only two ways to remove the smell from haunting you (and those you love): carefully scrape and wash the shoe and replace it on your foot, or decide that it's not worth the time to scrape it and just throw the damned thing out so you have a good excuse to buy new shoes.  (Cuz new shoes are always made of awesome!)

Sometimes, you need to let go of your desire to be helpful and just let people lick the frosty metal pole. This is a hard one for me to admit I still suffer from.  You can't save people from themselves, period.  No matter how benign your intentions are, if someone genuinely believes that you are telling them not to lick the frosty metal pole because you are hoarding the opportunity to experience the shangri-la of all life experiences and prevent them from having some sort of life-changing epiphany, then it's best to just let them get on with it and lick the damned pole.  Whether it's a co-dependent relationship, a bad business decision, a risky undertaking, I need to remind myself, "It's not your fault or your problem." I need to start triple-dog daring people instead.  Then, when someone goes ahead and licks the pole, in my opinion it's definitely an occasion where yes, I can and should say, "I told you so," completely guiltlessly, because really, I did tell them so.  I will revel in it.  Then let them do it a million times if they have to.  And when the bell rings, run off to resume real life while they stand there screaming like an idiot.

The problem with vaguebooking.  Sometimes, people vaguebook to get attention, but sometimes you just really need to say something and can't or won't name names for personal reasons.  While it's true that a vaguebook status is frequently intended as a passive-aggressive attack on some unknown person who will hopefully see it and KNOW it's about them, often people who have NO CLUE what is going on in your life will think it's directed at them.  So, if you happen to post a vaguebook status and people suddenly start apologizing, unfriending you, or sending you nasty private messages, while you run the risk of unintentionally alienating people, you might also tap into a few people who have a guilty conscience or just find out that some of the people you know believe they are the center of the universe.

There is no "unfamily" button.  I love my family.  They drive me insane, we are all kinds of stubborn, our opinions seldom match, and sometimes we make dysfunctional families look like the Cleavers.  With a few major adjustments in our family management, the last several months have been a roller coaster of emotion while we adjust to the new regime: tension, stress, joy, happiness, relief, disbelief, and a whole lotta WTF? are all in the cornucopia of crazy that is my family.  Families are more often than not not only our greatest asset but our biggest PITAs.  The key for me right now is learning to roll with the punches, which sometimes means I have to take the time to clean the poo off my shoe and at other times, let them lick the frosty pole because while you can "unfriend" your acquaintances on Facebook, in real life there is no "unfamily" button.

Usually, a breakdown is just the doorway to a breakthrough.  Passive-aggressive people who manipulate others with head games bring out the worst in me.  After a complete, utter, total, ugly-crying-by-myself-in-my-beautiful-new-space-surrounded-by-gorgeous-costumes breakdown, my breakthrough was remembering that the only way people can keep hurting me is if I keep going back for more.  Brilliant, right?

A litmus test is always a good idea.  If you ever want to know if you're being scammed, manipulated, or sold a lemon, ask a simple question.  Make sure it's incredibly basic, and pay attention to whether the response is a) rehearsed, b) ridiculous or c) wrong.  If it's wrong, then walk away.  If it's rehearsed, you have a 50/50 chance of knowing if they actually understand what they just repeated.  Proceed with caution.  If it's ridiculous - if they ramble on, giggle too much, make cutesy jokes, change the subject, or make random shit up to explain it, they are probably just trying to dazzle you so you will hopefully forget the question you asked in the first place.  As I am a photographer, and know photography, my favourite question to ask fellow photographers when I feel like maybe they aren't really all that and a bag of chips is that they explain the relationship between aperture/DOF, shutter speed, and ISO.  Weeds the hacks out SUPER fast. *cough*

Impulse buying 650+ costumes is bad for your mental health.  I wish I could describe my purchase of 650+ costumes this summer with a logical, rational, witty explanation.  But I would make no more sense than ^that guy^ did. I was like a lemming running headlong into something that was exciting and unknown, but that would ultimately kill me.  The original plan was to set up a virtual store and build a buzz while I found just the perfect spot to use as a storefront that could later be converted into an awesome creative space, make a respectable profit by selling 99% of the costumes by Halloween... while still getting first dibs on the costumes I loved that made "take it all or leave it all" so perfectly do-able...

While looking for a space, the costumes (24 x 18-cubic foot boxes plus a mountain of garment bags and about 40 styrofoam heads wearing feathery Vegas showgirl hats...) were to be stored in my living/diningroom, as the seller was moving out of his rental property and needed them picked up quickly.  Sure.  We can put them in our house for a week or two, just until I find a place to rent.  No biggie, right?

WRONG.  Some 10 weeks later, we were STILL eating our suppers at the desk/in our room/in front of the TV/not at the dining room table because it was dismantled and stored in the garage and it damn near killed me. When I finally, at long last, found a property and moved the costumes out, we threw a party, during which I cried like a baby because it felt SO good and SO happy to have my home back, to have friends and family over, to eat a belated turkey dinner surrounded by people and not sequins.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time, though.  It really did...

Which leads me to...

I don't much care for commercial realty.  If you ever have to find a place to rent or buy for your business, rest assured that it is at least as frustrating as house hunting, for exactly the same reason: lots of places might be *almost* perfect, but the chances of you finding your actual dream home already built are slim to nil, and if you do find it, it's probably a) in a bad location or b) out of your price range.  Which in and of itself is a special kind of hell.  But what makes commercial realty so much WORSE, is that instead of having at your disposal a motivated (in my experience often to the point of being irritating) realtor who hounds you day and night and acts like a junky who just mainlined some Honey BooBoo juice when you finally get your house "showhome ready" or put a bid in on a home... commercial realtors move at the speed of molasses in February.

Days and weeks went by with no response to my inquiries, through realtors, through Kijiji, through various agencies.  And the ones I did go look at were countless nightmares, ranging from psychotic snobby owners to dumps that I'd be scared to rent.  I looked at so many spaces that when I found one that was literally too good to be true and was in fact WAY out of my price range, I actually wasted 3 weeks negotiating back and forth, dickering over (honestly, literally) $.25/sqft/year.  When that deal fell through, I sighed (and cried) and went back to Kijiji.  Lo and behold there was a new listing and I went to look at a space, expecting nothing special, but fell instantly in love with the space, the building owner, and wept with the relief of finally finding a normal guy who just wants to not have the upper level of his shop sitting empty.  Sweet, sweet relief.  The irony?  When he's not machining, the building owner is a home realtor...

I have a crapload of costumes to get rid of still.  The original plan gave me a full 6 weeks to market and sell costumes in a physical location; in actuality, I have had less than two.  The damage is already done, though, and so instead of being bitter we've been making lemonade by just having a tonne of fun being able to actually play dress-up...

It's not too late to get up on your own sparkle Mario or glitter fart faerie costume, though - for another 48 hours or so, That Costume Place's collection will still be on display with hundreds of pieces available for rent or sale, but by Thursday, it becomes My Edmonton Studio, which I am *really* excited to reveal the full details on.  It's so exciting that almost feel I ought to caution you not to choke on anything when you see the new blogsite!

So, that's been my life for the last several weeks, rounded nicely out by enjoying my morning walk to school with Serejane, being able to play backgammon at my dining room table with my husband again, chilling out with my amazing sons who make me prouder as each day goes by with the mature, wonderful, funny young men they are becoming, the wicked class I am taking this semester, my growing excitement over my baby sister's birthday party next weekend, being an invited speaker for an Edmonton based UN youth initiatives group, and finishing up a whole thwack of wedding and family portraits (and one VERY saucy boudoir session) for my incredible clients, who fortunately find my brand of crazy tolerable enough that they continue allowing me into their lives to pictureLOVE.  

And now, I leave you this parting sentiment:



Unless otherwise noted, writing and watermarked images on this blog are copyrighted to Hope Walls.