Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Top 5 Lessons Learned From 2014. Broke, Stressed. Successful Regardless.

To summarize the most important lesson I've learned from 2014 in one word: FOCUS.

Two words: BITCH, FOCUS!

In 2014...


[Photos from Apartment Therapy]

I tried on too many hats at once: indie business marketer/product designer/photographer, wedding photographer's assistant, freelancer writer, online shop curator/owner, reseller, antique mall booth owner, blogger, college student, herbalism student, maker...like a porn-filled 1998 Windows operating system, I crashed.

Lesson 1: You get one life, so do all the things with it... But go slow. Focus!

***

I ended a two-year relationship with a guy I learned was hiding a drug problem. I was used to him, mood swings and all. It was hard to cut his presence from my life.

I ended my five-year relationship with buying vintage merchandise every weekend. I was used to it, even though it overwhelmed me to tears to take in more than I could handle. It was hard to cut its presence from my life.

Lesson 2: Whether it's a project or relationship, don't drag it on, don't wait. Stop. Find new solutions. Return to it refreshed.

***

I had a mental picture for "future boyfriend": older, organized, creative professional. We'd design an office worthy of Apartment Therapy, happily arting the day away on our matching desks.

HAAAAAA HAHAHA. Nope, not my pad. Yet. But working on mine. We'll watch my pad transform for 2015's planned before/after room projects.

Instead I met AJ; three years younger, messy, sporty, man's man, football team captain. I once showed him photos from my favorite figure drawing class. He paused and thoughtfully eyed the tasteful, near-nude subject. His pretty amber eyes were earnest when he said, "Do they show p*ssy?" 

AJ does not know the fundamentals of art and design. He dislikes cats (!), he's never seen an episode of Transformers (!!!). Of course, we fell madly in love. On paper we're a mess but our chemistry is perfect. I wouldn't want him any other way.

Lesson 3: We all have pre-set ideas of what we absolutely WILL and WILL NOT do. Stop. Let go of expectations. Never be unwilling to do something outside of preconceived notions of what's "for you". AJ wanted to fulfill his creative/hippie side and I wanted to become physically active and we're coaching each other. Try something you've always thought you hated- you never know what will happen.

***

I've earned less than I have in years, having spent the year exploring, not earning. Along the way I've gained everything money can't buy: applicable wisdom and knowledge, true love, extreme resourcefulness (stretching my already-formidable cheapskate powers!), long-thought-impossible goals accomplished and/or started on, and much-improved physical fitness.

Lesson 4: The world won't end if you make less money, lose money, or go broke. Do what you love at all costs. Take risks. You'll learn, you'll survive, it will make you stronger.

***

2014 had ample stress. I battled hopeless feelings. Thoughts like: I've tried so many things and have never excelled so I'll never excel at anything, haunted. Yet looking back, I feel accomplished. It's exhilarating to strain yourself to the limits mentally and physically.

Lesson 5: Life's not about some mythical "end goal". Just like in fiction, once you conclude the conflict, story over. I'm not in a rush to get to my inevitable "end." I've finally learned to instead, enjoy the journey in all its imperfections and count my blessings.

***

For years I've been stuck in a routine, something that stuck from my office days. Time tends to fly by unsettlingly when you let yourself do this. Remember when you were a kid and the days stretched forever? It's because you were learning something new daily and novel experiences fire up your brain's neurons and make time seem to last longer rather than fly by. This happened for me, especially during the last six months of 2014. Despite the flops, it's been a good year. I'm nervous about my new direction as I train to become a master herbalist and launch a skin care line. I know it's going to alienate and isolate me from a lot of readers. But I have to do what produces the best, from-the-soul content: follow my heart and produce the best quality work I possibly can.

I'm invigorated and motivated to keep learning, training, refining and growing big time into 2015! And fit in a little thrifting again for upcycled projects when I feel ready again too. The willpower to resist smalls/mugs needs training, she is weak!

What were the biggest lessons you learned in 2015?
What were some failures you've learned and grown from? I'm ready for you, 2015!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

18 comments:

  1. Happy almost New Year Van! Good luck in your new endeavor, sound interesting and I hope will be profitable for you. We learn from all our experiences, so you had a year infused wiith new knowledge, right? ;)

    I've learned to let go of some of the crazy I've surrounded myself with. Not that I won't continue thrifting, but will be more selective and not buy things just because they are a bargain. I also plan to open an Etsy shop within a few months. I know it is difficult to sell on Etsy, but it is something I have wanted to do and will be upgrading my internet service soon.

    Keep enjoying your new guy :), and Happy New Year!
    Internet service

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    1. I wanted to say let go of the crap, but it changed it to crazy, lol. I guess crazy works too.

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    2. I completely understood what "Crazy" was in that context, every reseller and/or thrifter does!

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    3. Oh and yes, congrats on being selective! Me too! I'm so glad I stopped to par down and get my "life back". I'm going to do an upcycled clothing/art line and stick to buying only sure-sellers and amazing, unqiue pieces into the future. When my will power is up to it. Right now, like you, I've noticed I can't resist the steals and the ceramic smalls/mugs that don't sell.


      On Etsy: I find it much easier to make a living here than eBay. It's prettier so it motivates me to work harder, less traffic but if you have a lare amount of items you should still do well. Take awesome pictures, too! The Etsy shoppers are super visual.

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  2. Best of luck to you in 2015! I treat all the crap in my life, like dust on my shoulder. I just brush it off and carry on. It has always been my mantra. I just dont have the energy to give a shit about that kind of stuff anymore. Good luck with whatever the new year will bring you. Always look forward to reading your blog!

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    1. Happy New Year to you, too! That's the best way to do it and that has been an endevour for me this year. I've gotten *much* better and will continue to work at it! Thank you for reading and commenting all this time, I always appreciate the advice and kind words.

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  3. I wish you health, wealth and happiness in the New Year, Van!

    I came across this quote somewhere---"Comparison is the thief of happiness". And that is the big thing I learned this year. To stop comparing my life to other people's and to stop worrying that I am "not where I should be". Every minute spent obsessing about how things should be is a misspent minute a person can never get back again.

    Onward to 2015!

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    1. I love the comparison quote. Living by "you're exactly where you're supposed to be" has been a big help this year. It's self-paralizing not to realize it. Happy New Year to you, too!

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  4. I love this post! So positive. You're truly inspiring. :)
    I'm a freelance book editor - in 2014 I earned less than the previous years but also diversified more. Your line about money is what I needed.
    Buon anno ;)

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    1. I feel you on the money, accross the board it seems like it was a bad year for profits for a lot of my peers/readers/friends BUT diversifying would be so important. Sounds like a succesful year to me. Didn't know you were a book editor- may have to hit you up about hiring you sometime :D for real, e-mail me at info@thriftcore.com if you wanna chat about it.

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    2. I'd love to, but unless you're publishing stuff in Italian... :D

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  5. Here is another one - the best things in life don't cost money like love and peace. And yet another - don't be so hard on yourself. You excel at tons of things, maybe just figure out what your top ones are! Hugs

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    1. Thanks :D Happy new year. I've been narrowing it down the past month or so. I think the focus on next year will be the new body care company/my herbalism training, a little reselling/my upcyled line (only fast sellers/very mid century modern goodness moving forward), and this blog. Trying to make myself post less and drop taking on business clients but it's hard...

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  6. Sounds like you are looking forward to a good new year! Glad you found love and adventure!

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  7. Happy New Year! I totally get the boyfriend thing. The perfect guy I envisioned in my head when I was dating is not really my boyfriend at all, but I wouldn't have it any other way. If the chemistry and the real important stuff is there the slight discrepancies in hobbies etc. that you thought would make up mr.perfect are the least important things. Sounds like you learned a lot in 2014 and i can't wait to see where you take Thriftcore in 2015!

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    1. Thanks Zorah! It's better to be with someone who brings differences to the table, that way you learn from each other. I'd have NEVER started my physical fitness journey if I stayed strictly in my realm of "fantasy boyfriends"

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