My Complicated Relationship with My Grandmothers

Its hard being two generations apart. The world really changes generationally.

I grew up being told that its fine, even wonderful, to be gay. My grandparents, if they were told anything, were probably taught it was shameful, if not worse.

I was growing up in a time when we were pretty sure racism was mostly over, my grandparents were adults before the civil rights act was passed.

In our culture grandparents are these near mythical quality beings who swoop into our lives bringing unconditional love, treats, gifts, and the best cooking you’ve ever had. I certainly had some of that.

My Dad was the first of his six bothers to have a child. That child was me, and I was born female. My grandmother (who I called Grandma) was over the moon. She adored me. She had always hoped in having many children she would have both boys and girls. For whatever reason she didn’t get any girls, so I was her first.

Her and my parents seemed bent on doing every girly stereotype with me. In many of my earliest pictures I am wearing frilly pink dresses. The problem was as soon as I had any say in it I was adamant that I didn’t like them and didn’t want them. Luckily for my Grandma, I did love my long hair as a young child and loved having her give me braids and pigtails. But it wasn’t too long until I cut off my long hair too.

When I was young I had sensory issues. I didn’t know it then, I don’t think anyone knew it then. But I remember how clothes would hurt. I don’t mean irritate, I mean hurt. Dresses were scratchy to the point of pain, stiff pants were no better. I refused to wear much besides sweat pants and pajamas at a young age. I only wore one brand of socks until I was a teen! I refused (and still do) underwire bras. I refused almost everything that is stereo typically girly in favor of sports jerseys (later skate t-shirts), soft pants, and short hair.

This was so hard for my grandmother who loved me so much. And I loved her. After my Father (her son) passed away we were even closer. I spent a lot of time with her and Papa. They were some of the only consistent childcare my single mother could rely on. I seriously loved and still love them. I was incredibly close to my grandmother despite our constant battles over my appearance and habits.

She made amazing food and let us eat ice cream every night after dinner. Neapolitan. Mixing all the flavors together and watching the late night news while Papa fell asleep on the couch was a regular occurrence in my childhood. I would go lay down on the couch after finishing my ice cream and fall asleep. She would wake me up and make me go brush my teeth and go to bed. I miss her a lot.

My other grandmother (my mother’s mother). Was burnt out by the time I was born. Her husband has passed away long before I was born and I never knew him. She had eight children, three who still lived at home with varying special needs, and several grandchildren. She ran a businesses. I didn’t spend much time with her. I did love playing in her massive home on her massive property though. I have far more memories about the house and pool than anything else. Every Christmas Eve and 4th of July was another chance to play in that crazy old, huge, dark house.

This grandmother, who I wasn’t allowed to call grandma, or her name, only her nickname, was always busy when I was around. I remember her being stressed out and well dressed, always with a cigarette in her hand and often telling someone to do something. I don’t remember any conversations or tender moments. I do remember that she would give us twenty dollars plus our age in cash every christmas. That was a nice score.

Her house was always packed with people for every party. Our family alone was massive, then add friends, in-laws, and other people and things got crazy. The adults seemed happiest when the kids left them alone so thats what we did. We went off and did kid stuff like exploring every nook and cranny of the house, watching TV, making prank phone calls, using the vents as a “secret” way to communicate while we “spied” on the adults (spying was extremely frowned upon on my dad’s side, my mom’s family didn’t seem to mind much).

I remember my last memory of her before she died she was yelling at me not to play with the muddy farm dog. I loved dogs, probably more than people at that age. It hurt and I was sad. Why wouldn’t I pet that dog? All dogs needed kids to pet them right?

The one real point of connection I had with her was video games. She had an NES and played the crap out of it. She knew Super Mario Bros. 3 inside and out. She could complete the game fully, or speed run it (any%) in about 10 minutes. I was blown away by that. I loved video games (almost as much as dogs) and she was amazing at them. I think her obsession with Mario helped legitimize video games for my own mother and her siblings allowing my cousins and I a massive amount of freedom to play the games we liked.

When my mother’s mother died there was a lot of turmoil in the family. What would become of her farm, her three sons, her stuff (so much stuff), her animals? It was a rough time in my life (I think 12 is a bit rough for everyone). We spent a lot of time at her house, with a lot of sad people. I felt guilty that I wasn’t sad enough. I was still grieving the loss of my father, and didn’t particularly miss my grandmother.

I remember the huge garage sale where we sold her stuff particularly well. A lot of that stuff came home with us, including her desk, which eventually became my desk. I later found a list under a drawer in that desk that she had written. It was my own little secret connection to her. I didn’t find it until I was in my late teens, and by that point I was grieving what could have been. I wished I had been given the opportunity to know her better.

My father’s mother lived much longer. She was at my wedding, though she didn’t live long enough to meet any of her great-grandchildren. She had leukemia and a heart attack while I was in college. My school was right down the street from her house and the two hospitals she would spend her last months in. I would visit her and Papa three times a week or more. Watching her suffer was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone though. We grew even closer in that time, even though she couldn’t speak. Her and I were quite close for over two decades, even though she could never fully understand why I was the way I was and was often upset with me for taking risks, getting dirty, and not dressing up.

I felt like I was blessed growing up to be so close to my father’s parents when I lost him so young. It didn’t bother me too much that I wasn’t close to my mother’s mother and never met her father, becuase I had one set of grandparents who were at every single event. Every school play, every band concert, any time my mother was sick; Grandma and Papa were there. Presence can overcome a plethora of cultural and generational differences, and presence helped me to become very close to them.

Being two generations separated from each other is hard. Our world changes fast and our grandchildren’s world may not feel like our own. I don’t hold my grandparents differing cultural understanding against them. I love them in spite of it.

I can see the same struggle in my parents and in-laws with their grandchildren. But love and presence is overcoming that gap. I hope my own love and understanding can grow to overcome the generational gap I will have with my own grandchildren.

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Living in the Moment

Right now I’m in a place in life where I have no choice but to live in the moment.

I’m starting a business which is a crazy roller coaster. It also means I don’t have a career or income. We are relying on Ace’s income to pay all our bills, and this month it was significantly less than it has been in over a year. We straight up don’t have enough income this month to pay all our bills and eat. Luckily we have some savings, so we aren’t going to starve or have our utilities turned off our anything. Yet, I’m still anxious becuase I was hoping we’d made enough this month to pay down our small amount of credit card debt and keep saving our savings strictly for the new business.

I’ve been driving for Postmates since December to make a little bit of cash. In an average week of working 3 nights (about 12 hours total) I’m making about $150. That doesn’t include what I’m paying for gas, and becuase I’m a contractor theres no taxes withheld, so in the end on an average night I’m making just above minimum wage. When it snows I make great money though, sometimes as much as $25/hour. But, I’m only working a few hours at a time, so its still only a few hundred dollars each month. This is the job I could find that was flexible enough to work with my current life situation. I can stop at anytime. I have no hours. I work when I can, I don’t when I can’t.

Right now I’m waiting on possibly renting a perfect building for my business. I have no other potential sites right now. I lay down and can’t sleep becuase I just think about this building every night. I’m excited about what it will be like when the business is open, and I stress about how much work it will be. I wonder about countless things, the cost of the remodel, city regulations, safety, if the city will take issue with non-gendered bathrooms, and more. I was told I would have a response from the building owners this week and have heard nothing significant yet.

My anxiety has been high this week

Today in my yoga practice the wonderful Adriene said, “Find strength by letting go.” That really hit me. I’ve been doing all I can to stay calm and in the moment and this mini money crisis is really forcing me to do that. Right now the best course of action is for me to work Postmates as much as I possibly can, becuase I have no idea if this building is going to come though, but I’ll know soon.

If I get the building my life will be very busy with getting this building ready for a business, and working with the city to get approval to be in the building. At the same time I’ll be working with my builder to design ramps for the space,  overseeing all the improvements to the space, searching out sponsorship deals to help fund as many improvements as possible, and even starting the early stages of hiring.

If I don’t get this building I will be applying for regular jobs while continuing the hard search for suitable spaces for my business.

Each is its own kind of terrifying and the waiting is the hardest part.

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Mark started an obsession with Sudoku yesterday after being introduced to it at school.

I literally have no idea what tomorrow will bring for my life. I can’t plan for it, so my only choice is to live in the right now. That means doing yoga, breathing deeply, doing sudoku with my son, learning about circuits together, watching Rick and Morty with Ace, driving for Postmates and praying for good tips, cooking good food, and just being here.

I’m not particularly good at it, but I’m trying, and I’m certainly better than I was a year ago when this kind of stress would have had me in a state of anxiety and depression to strong to get me out of bed. My best practice is to take things one day at a time even one moment at a time, by letting go of the unknown, letting go of the future, and being in the now.

Meditation

I started going to therapy sometime in the fall of 2015. One of the very first things suggested to me was meditation. At that time I just did not really know how to do it. I read descriptions and guides and even tried a few guided meditations. I was so lost and frustrated. At that time all I could accomplish was trying to control my breathing for two minutes, and even that was hard. I was experiencing a lot of panic at that time, and really struggled to focus for two whole minutes.

Slowly, over a long period of time I started to find some things that worked for me. The biggest, by far, was doing yoga. I love Yoga With Adriene. I found Adriene when my back was hurting badly one day (kind of like it is today) and I googled “Yoga for back pain” becuase I was willing to try anything free to get some relief. I found Adriene’s video and was so impressed. Adriene was the best yoga instructor I’d ever seen. She was extremely inviting and somehow felt like she was speaking right to me, even though it was an old YouTube video! Adriene just has this way of communicating that is so respectful and inviting. I even said to myself “She talks like a good therapist.” I loved the video so much I did more and more!

I didn’t expect the videos to help me learn to meditate, but they did. Adriene is able to gently and expertly guide you though the movements while coaching you to keep breathing and to focus on your body and breath. Her constant guide of “find what feels good” gave me the freedom to modify poses as I needed. I was learning to ignore all the racing thoughts and feel my body while paying attention to my breathing. For me pairing movement with breathing was the key I needed to learn to meditate. Over time and with practice my time on the mat, guided by Adriene’s videos, became a key part to my healing and getting my anxiety under control.

Each practice would end with shavasana, which was a new practice to me. At first being still and relaxed and focusing on breathing deeply was extremely difficult, but the practice of yoga made my body feel so good that I kept coming back. Day after day I did yoga and ended in a meditative pose. On the days that I would really be able to focus on my breathing instead of my thoughts I would find all sorts of strong emotions rising up. I would find myself sobbing at the end of a practice thinking of departed friends and old wounds. It really helped me discover the places of hurt hiding in the recesses of my mind that needed work. I had no idea that yoga could do that.

Recently I started adding time for meditation at the end of yoga. I don’t time it, but I think its generally about five minutes that I lie on the floor, just focusing on my breath. Of course all sorts of thoughts pop up, but I really try to just let them go and come back to my breath. I’ve also found that bringing my hands to together in front of my face helps. Feeling my fingers resting on my face and forehead give me a physical point to focus on.

Five minutes doesn’t feel like much, but it is. Especially paired with yoga, it makes a huge difference in my day. I am starting to notice the days that I struggle a lot and am short tempered with the people I love are the days I skip yoga and meditation.

It’s taken me 15 months to get the point that I can meditate for five minutes several days a week. Thats a long time, but the pay off has been absolutely huge. Its quite hard for me to quantify how much its impacted my life for the better. I’ve always seen myself as a snappy and sometimes straight up mean-spirited person, but that view and that reality is changing, and its in large part thanks to meditation. On days that I meditate, I feel more focused, more empathetic, and more flexible, things I’ve always valued but struggled to actually live out.

If you have wanted to try meditation but are scared to start, or worried you might fail, or don’t know how to get started, I urge you to just start somewhere. Before I found yoga I would set a timer for two minutes, and go outside at night and just look at the stars. It wasn’t quite meditating, but I would spend those two minutes breathing deep and it would help give me a short break from the anxiety that was nearly constant at the time. If I can do that at my lowest I’m sure everyone can find something they can do to bring some calm and peace to their minds for a few moments each day. I know if you try you won’t regret it.

Skate Staph

I’m sick with a Staph infection. It sucks. I feel really sick, but I don’t look it. Its like having the flu without most of the stomach symptoms. Its been going on for a while now. Even though its been exhausting, and at times terrifying (these infections are increasingly antibiotic resistant ya know!) part of me is a bit proud or even smug, that it was caused by skateboarding.

Well it was actually caused by bacteria, but the infection started at the site of skateboarding induced open wound.

Back in mid July, I was dealing with a lot of personal stuff, all the emotions were a bit overwhelming so I did what I do sometimes to work though that stuff, I went out to skate. I actually went street skating for the first time in forever. I didn’t fall trying to do any tricks. I fell navigating the 100 year old sidewalks. Small skateboards wheels are no match for large cracks in the sidewalks. Too many cracks very close together were too hard to avoid and I went down, hard. Ripping my last pair of decent pants and the skin beneath it.

It was one of those good falls. It woke me up out of my funk, and got me out of my head. A good fall reminds me that falling isn’t that bad and I don’t need to be scared of skateboarding. That fall felt great, I even posted it on instagram!

Skateboarding is good for my mental health. It keeps me connected. Sometimes pain is a good reminder of where I am.

A post shared by Stronger Skatepark (@stronger_skatepark) on

Days and weeks went on and that wound kept reopening. It was very slow to heal. I was busy non-stop until the Alberta street fair, which was the first day I noticed I didn’t feel well. It was hot, but I’ve dealt with hot before, I can handle hot. But I couldn’t that day. The mixture of feeling tired and overheated plus anxiety had me spiraling into a total mess by the mid afternoon. I felt so weak that I could hardly stand. Local coffee shop, Barista, was amazing and let me rest in their air conditioned lobby with a bag of ice while my husband loaded up our booth.

The next day I didn’t feel great, but I pushed though it to get us off to go on our annual camping trip to San Juan Island. By the time we were on the ferry in the afternoon, I was starting to feel pretty OK, tired, but much better than the previous 24 hours.

I was up and down the whole trip, feeling great here and there, terrible here and there, but mostly in a tired fog. I slept, a lot. I would pass out hard at 9 pm and nap each day. One day we did nothing but chill at the campsite and I still napped for almost 2 hours. I knew something was off. I knew it, but I didn’t know what. I started worrying I was pregnant. (I’m not).

The last day, the day we were coming home, was the hardest. I woke up dead. I couldn’t function at all. I felt horrible and just wanted to sleep more. I almost fell asleep a few times while we were packing up. I had to have Ace drive me to breakfast, “Its just been too long since you ate” he said. I disagreed. Something more was going on. I did feel better after I ate, at least awake enough to walk around and drive the car. But by then my knee had started hurting, bad. I’ve had had some decent knee injuries and couldn’t remember how this happened. “Maybe when I was pulling in the kayak I hit my knee?” I reasoned. “But… it should have been swollen last night then.” I was confused and just determined to have a decent last day of the closest thing to vacation I’m going to have this year.

I was so tired. The drive home was probably erring on dangerous for the last 20 miles of Washington. Singing Ben Folds at the top of my lungs was the only thing keeping me awake until the excitement of coming over the I-5 bridge into Portland gave me the infusion of energy I needed to get home. That, and a bag of candy.

The next day I felt similarly bad. My knee hurt a lot and I was treating it like an injury. I was so tired. I took a nap. Then my sister came over to hang out and get out of the insane heat wave (we had AC set up in our living room). Then my knee turned red. “Does this look like cellulitis?” I asked. “Don’t ask me.” she responded. OK off to the internet. I asked my trusted group of moms and they agreed, cellulitis, go to the doctor.

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Day two of obvious cellulitis. The green circle was the outline of the red on day one. It was spreading. I needed meds. 

The next day I felt even worse, and I was getting worried. I was so tired. I felt like a zombie. I went to the doctor. “This looks like staph” she said. “You need to be on antibiotics, today.” We talked about what the best choice of antibiotic “Please not levaquin I asked.” “No no no, you don’t need that.” she assured me.  So off to the pharmacy. After waiting way too long while feeling like death and nursing a kombucha becuase everything else in the world made me want to puke (I had a low fever by now) they hand me a bottle of huge capsules.

Shit. I can’t swallow big pills. I’ve tired. Over and over. I can’t do it. Usually antibiotics are tablets and I break them in half and they are small enough. So lots of calls and waiting and more waiting and more feeling horrible and watching a movie and forcing myself to eat some food and by 8pm I finally have antibiotics. Finally. I can get better.

The next day I woke up and could think again. I felt semi normal, at least in my head. The weird brain fog was lifted. But damn, my knee still hurt, and I was still tired. I don’t even really remember Saturday. I’m trying…. but I can’t. Sunday was the day I woke up feeling pretty good. “Hey maybe these antibiotics are working! Lets go out!” So we went on a bike ride, oops. Too much. Soon I was feeling terrible again. Terrible enough to call the doctor Monday becuase I was worried I wasn’t getting better. They wanted me to come back in for a recheck. My knee was getting better enough that she was feeling good about the antibiotics. “You need to take it easy. Your body is telling you you need rest.” Well I can’t argue with that.

All this becuase I fell down skateboarding. This is the most serious skate injury I’ve ever had and the most sick I’ve been in a long time. I think in a day or two I’ll be back to normal. My knee is finally much better. No pain relief needed for that today (but its cycle day 1, so I can’t seem to catch a break from pain right now).

I’m prescribing myself two more days of nothing. I’m going to nap and read and rest and play video games. Then I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends. Its been a long time and I miss them.

Here’s to having antibiotics when we really need them. Also, please stop taking them when you don’t need them. Stop creating super bugs becuase you have a cold. You are killing people by doing that.

Love only Grows

I’ve never fully understood my friends who choose to have lots of kids. Even 2 or 3 kids feels like too much to me. But now I’m starting to understand it more.

I’ve been working hard on getting to know myself. Losing my church and the identity that went with that was hard. Getting to know who I am without an outside community telling me who I am has been a long hard process. But as I learn who I am and learn how to love that person, I learn how to love the others around me better. As I learn to love those around me better I learn to love myself better.

Christians often debate if “Love your neighbor as yourself” means that first you love yourself and then love your neighbor or if it means first love your neighbor then love yourself. I think the only way they can work is hand-in-hand. You must be constantly striving to love yourself and others better. If you have a low image of yourself you can’t be as effective at taking care of others.

I think becuase out culture has so many people that glorify themselves too much, many of us react by loving ourselves too little out of fear of lifting ourselves up too high. The balance is hard to strike, but I think I’ve now experienced moments of it here and there and its been a really long time since that’s happened. I’m working at ignoring the shame I’ve learned over the past two decades and replacing it with accepting myself and others exactly where we are at. Its a good process.

Losing judgment and shame for yourself and others is hard, becuase first you have to acknowledge that it is there. Its a painful process realizing how much these weird cultural ideals shape who we are. Pride, shame, judgement, they are there here and we must point to them before we can fix them. It has to start with ourselves though. We can’t point out the speck in our brothers eye until we recognize the plank in our own.

Its amazing that though this process I have not lost my faith. Many do. Many see the shame and damage that comes from christian culture and they reject all of it. And I don’t blame them for doing so, its not a bad choice. But for me, my faith has just changed. I still see the absolutely incredible wisdom and beauty in Christ’s words. I think I see it more now than I have in a long time. The biggest travesty is that these words meant to help have been used over and over again to harm. But when we can see that, and when we can choose love, both for ourselves and others we grow. As we add more people to the our circle of people we care for we don’t run dry on love, we overflow with it.

I can now understand why people have lots of kids. With each one your love grows. We have an every increasing capacity for love, not a limit.

I’m going to be 30 soon?

Inspired by a facebook friend I decided to make a post that is the condensed version of my life story. Many of my friends are newer and may not know much about my past. Here is the fly-by version.

I lived in a little town nestled between big towns, known as of Lake in the Hills, Illinois. My parents were poor when I was little, but the little I remember from my very early life is pretty ok. My dad died tragically when I was only 4 and my sister wasn’t quite 2. The resulting lawsuit bumped up our families net worth and our little family of 3 moved to a new house in Algonquin and soon I was in public school.  After two terrible years of public school, I was moved to a catholic school, which was only slightly better. My school years were a weird mixture of good times and personal struggles. I was a total nerd and my only friends at school were the other nerds. We had good times. Outside of school I was friends with many of my cousins and we all played a lot of video games together.

We had a a lot death and tragedy in my family alongside my Mother’s chronic illness, that had her in and out of the hospital my entire life. Sometimes I would be randomly be picked up from school by my grandma or aunt or even my Mom’s friends I barely knew and they would care for us while mom was sick. Those times were really hard on me. I was in some kind of therapy on and off that I only remember hating. I struggled in school at times and at other times found school to be far too easy and boring. I would get A’s in half my subjects while being tutored so I could pass in the others.

I started skateboarding about age 12 when my maternal grandmother died and I got to spend some time with my older cousin who lived far away, but was in town for a while. I had seen skateboarding on TV and was drawn to it, but getting to skate with my cousin sealed it. I was hooked. I got a board and skated every moment I could for the next several years. Once I could skate ramps I lived at the local skateparks. Thanks to my neighbor I discovered WARP (skatepark) shortly after it opened and found a place where I felt I like I belonged. I spent my teen years at WARP or driving around to other parks and spots with my skater friends. When I was 14 we moved from Algonquin to rural Wonder Lake, IL. Not long after, my family doubled in size when my soon to be step-father moved in with my new siblings. I now had a second little sister and a younger brother, who became my live in skater friend.

I started in a Catholic High School, but after bullying and terrible teachers I moved to Woodstock High School. School was not a focus for me. I did enough to keep my parents and teachers happy, but was only invested in my music classes, in which I met this kid named Ace. We became friends though our various musical endeavors together. Life was busy between school, family, skating, and music. So why not add one more thing by going to the local evangelical youth group!? So that’s exactly what I did. And when I do things I do them hard. I was in deep really fast. They offered the deep kind of relationships I was missing and craving alongside answers to spiritual questions. My life really changed during my zealous Christian period. I quickly became part of the worship band and became a youth leader. By my senior year WARP had been sold to new owners with almost all of us who worked there quitting our jobs (I worked there as soon I was old enough to beg for a job, and boy did I beg). Youth group was my new community.

Ace and I had become close friends and started dating around the same time. After high school I went to one semester at NIU, then came home and did one semester at community college. Then I got a job (as a nanny for my pastor’s preschooler) and moved out. Ace and I had all sorts of drama in those years, and eventually he went away to school in Minneapolis and we kept dating long distance. After a year of working and doing some school on-line I decided to go to Bible College. Our youth pastor had started a new church, and I was very closely involved with that start-up. I was the kid’s person. I designed and organized the entire children’s program. I was on the fast track to becoming ordained. But Bible college had me deeply examining all my beliefs. I was deconstructing and rebuilding my theology and it wasn’t coming out how my church community had hoped. At the same time Ace was doing the same thing at a different school and every time he came to visit he would cause friction at church with his ever more progressive beliefs.

Ace came back from school for good and we got married in 2007. About a year later we were ready to move on from our church. Our beliefs just didn’t fit anymore. We couldn’t find anything remotely progressive or inclusive in our little town, so we just started inviting people over to have dinner and discussion in our (newer, bigger) home. It was pretty awesome. I could tell a lot of stories of what happened at Mosaic, but this is getting long already. Somewhere in there I graduated from school with my bachelors, got a bunch of dogs, worked at a doggy daycare, got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, kept skating but not nearly as often and most importantly, my nephew was born!

Vincent’s birth was really what opened me up to having a kid sooner than I had originally planed. Ace and I wanted a baby and in 2010 he was born. It changed everything. I studied everything in depth and started radically changing my lifestyle to make it healthier for my baby. I quit eating sugar, I worked on cooking my own food more often. I stopped eating fast food. I learned how to love better than I’d ever loved in my life becuase I was in love with this tiny, fat, often screaming, human.

Ace had spent years working on and off in terrible retail jobs while never giving up on his music, but we needed something more stable, and Ace was considering opening a business. He even went back to school to learn the ins and outs of small business. His dream was a tea shop/small local venue. A safe space for young adults to share their art and get some drinks and snacks. But, did we want to be stuck in McHenry (which is where we lived now) for another 10 years? The answer was clearly “no”. So the search for a new home was on. Portland was quickly the front runner when we learned that my sister was considering a move to Portland as well.

Soon, both of our small families were packed into my car and visiting Portland. None of us wanted to go back to Illinois. We all took the next year figuring out how to move to Portland. In august 2012 we arrived in Portland for good. It was a new start, one we needed after the rough break-up with our old church. We wouldn’t have to run into people around town who would unintentionally break our hearts with the things they would say. McHenry was too small and too conservative for us to stay there, we felt like we didn’t fit. Here in Portland we fit.

Here there is a space for creatives like Ace. He decided to once again get a part time job and pursue his music. I tried to stay home with Mark, but we just couldn’t afford it for long, so soon I was sitting for friends and looking for another Nanny job. Luckily I found one that grew with me from 1 day a week, to 2, to 3, and sometimes 4. The job also grew from one child to two. It got hard, but I stuck with it for a long time and it allowed us to refinance our home and pay our bills. In the meantime Ace lost his part-time job and switched to music full-time. He’s now doing a combination of YouTube, original albums, cover albums, and freelance composition.

Last summer my job got to be more stress than I could handle. It was also becoming hard on Mark and it was clear that I needed to quit. Luckily I worked for awesome people and the timing worked well and I was able to leave without any hard feelings. We had a few really hard months and I had to sell a lot of stuff to help pay the bills while I wasn’t working. But by December Ace had found some more success with his music and since then we’ve been more financially stable.

I started doing childcare again this year, but I’m already moving away from it as I start my new business, Stronger Skatepark. Skateboarding has been the one constant in my life though all of this. I’ve been skating for 18 years now and here in Portland the skate scene is bigger and better than it ever was back in Illinois, even at its height in the early 2000’s. I’m passionate about helping kids get into skateboarding and helping parents support their kids. That’s why I’m devoting the next few years of my life to to this park. Portland needs it!

Next month I turn 30, and I feel like I’m finally really getting to know who I am. I’m not sure why it took so darn long, but I’m glad I’m here. And summing up 30 years in 1500 words isn’t too bad a skill. 😉

 

 

SCORE Meeting

Today I met with my mentor matched with me though SCORE. Overall it went very well. I wish I had a longer list of questions prepared, but I had already solved most of the questions I sent in my initial e-mail last week!

I gave him an overview of my business and my plan, taught him a little bit about the skateboard industry and the market, and he had some good feedback. I was able to ask him the questions I had about planning for shrinkage and loss prevention in general. We talked about payroll, and the costs and benefits of hiring a payroll company. He explained the different roles a bookkeeper and account could play and how much of that I’m going to handle myself. He answered my questions about what steps I need an attorney for (not much). We talked a lot about various methods of inventory management and ideas for keeping inventory moving.

He seemed to think I was in a good place overall and thinks I’m doing things right. He suggested a few classes that might benefit me and I’ll be looking into those. He was glad to hear my reasons for doing what I am doing. We talked about people who want to start businesses simply for the reason of working for themselves. He told me about so many people who walk in the door and have no idea what they are doing, and how I wasn’t one of them.

If nothing else, I was glad for the conformation from someone who’s done it, that I’m doing it right.