I don't know if it's leftover birthday happiness, or the hint of spring creeping into the South, or our new home just minutes from the store, but a flip seems to have switched in 2014. A friend commented recently that I finally seemed to be hitting my stride -- in business ownership, but also, I think, in life -- and I think I understand what she meant.
Make no mistake: January was rough, business-wise. Everyone had warned me January was a slow month in retail, but I didn't realize what that would mean for bill pay, for the financial state of the shop. I understood, even welcomed, a slow season after an absolutely insane holiday; I welcomed it with open arms. But a busy Christmas meant a very empty store in January, and I needed new product, new books. I also desperately needed to pay bills. Last month, then, wound up requiring a lot of patience, a lot of faith, and a whole lot of juggling what bills to pay when.
I'm still learning. I make mistakes at this job every day; sometimes they're minuscule; sometimes they're costly. As a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, it's been tough. But I've decided this is entrepreneurship. The key, perhaps, is to not make the same mistake twice. So these days, I try to just shrug my shoulders when I make a mistake. I take notes, mental and physical, and then I press on.
So maybe it's this new, let-things-go attitude. Or maybe it's the daily walks around our downtown neighborhood. Maybe it's a morning routine spent in the Word. Maybe it's the notes of gratitude and the snail mail I've made the time to send. Maybe it's competent help in the store, a busier month of business.
Whatever it is, I'm happier these days. I'm breathing a little easier. There are hard things; there always are. Sunday, we tried our second new church in Thomasville. We ate lunch with friendly, new faces. We had a lovely day, but I still went to bed tearful. Friend-making is hard, a reminder that we're still adjusting, still a little unsure of ourselves. The church hunt is tough, too, for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of ways.
But still: We came home and sat on our front porch. Tonight, I sat in that swing and listened to the high school baseball team down the road. The church bells chimed in the distance.
We live in a small town now. And it's a little odd and a different kind of dream than I thought I'd be living.
And maybe it's the newness of it all, but I just find myself smiling a lot: at the smell of baked goods permeating the air, the church bells, the baseball sounds, the springtime pollen coating my porch. The kids in storytime, the long walks with Jordan, the funny neighbors who are still trying to figure us out. I smile at the shop owners who finally recognize me when I say hello, the bank tellers who know my name. I smile at One Direction and Ellie Holcomb on repeat, at my She Reads Truth morning studies, at This American Life on the radio. I smile at new window displays glowing in the evening light, the obnoxious local commercials and the way our channels now take forever to change. I smile at the spectacular sunsets and the local theatre practicing for their weekend plays.
I'm smiling a lot these days, and even the hard ones seem a little easier to bear. It feels a little bit like the seasons are changing for us, not just literally, but figuratively, like maybe we're finally stepping out of the fog and into the sun. I've got to say: It feels really, really good.