How My MidLife Crisis Led Me to Opening an Etsy Shop

Friday, March 25, 2016

Two weeks ago I opened an etsy shop called Barnacle Designs to sell zipper pouches and, hopefully in the future, other things I make. I'm pretty excited.

And about one week ago a friend asked me what gave me the motivation to do it. She said she feels like all of her friends are launching themselves out after their dreams and she feels left behind or unsure of how or what she should do to make her dreams come true.

That question has been on my mind all week. I mean, I've been a creative person all my life, and I've dipped my toes in the entrepreneurial waters before only to step gingerly back on the shore. So why is now different? Why am I going after this idea full speed ahead instead of just dabbling in it?

I think there are a couple reasons but the main one is just embarrassing to admit. It's because I have less kids at home (face palm). Seriously, some women are so capable of juggling so many things, and they do it well and beautifully, and I am just so 100% not that kind of woman. Parenting kicks my butt, ya'll! Even though I know it isn't helpful, I expend MASSIVE amounts of emotional energy worrying about my kids and any issues or problems they are having.

Do you remember that episode from the original Star Trek series where the empath can take the wounds from one person completely onto herself and heal them in the process? I'm kind of like that in that I tend to seriously take on myself the pains and trials of the people I love except it is actually stupid because it incapacitates me and does virtually nothing productive for the person I love.

But here is a clip from the episode I'm talking about. Her name is Gem and she is my spirit Star Trek character. Who's yours? Do not tell me you don't have a spirit Star Trek character. It is allowed to be from any of the series or movies, but bonus points if it is from the original.

I have veered a little from my point here. Okay, my point was that parenting takes a butt load of emotional energy. And with two kids out of the house I think that energy has slowly been seeping back into my own well or whatever and is now ready to spill out into something fun and creative.

Let me be clear here, the issue was not with my children. They were and are amazing and their pains and problems were not out of the range of normal people-who-are-growing-up things. I just hadn't learned how to manage my anxieties and worries and gift of massive empathy in a productive way. It often overwhelmed me.

But now there are only two at home, and while I am not completely free from the empath thing, I think I do manage it a lot better. I actually have my two oldest to thank for that because I have observed how self reliant and capable they are of handling their own stuff. They need their mom, sure, but not to solve their problems for them.

I have a good metaphor for this shift in my energy. Remember when you had one kid and taking them to the grocery store was like hell on wheels? And you would have given your pinky toe to NOT have to take their squirmy, screamy, beggy little self to the store? But instead of it getting better you decided to have another kid; so now you had to take two squirmy screamers with you?

Stay with me...but then one week things worked out and you got to go to the store with just one kid. And suddenly that seamed SO EASY. Like you could go to the store with one kid all day long. Something that used to be hard was suddenly a piece of cake, I guess because you're capacity for grocery shopping with tiny monsters had increased or something. 

I feel like that is what has happened to me. A few years ago I found myself a stay at home mom with just two kids, and the kids are older diapers, no nursing, no wiping boogers. There are other challenges to having teens, I'm not going to lie, but some things get easier and one of them is going to the bathroom by yourself.

If you haven't arrived yet hang in there little camper.

So this new energy propelled me into a whole lot of DIY home stuff, decorating and furniture makeovers and holiday crafting were a fantastic outlet for me. I LOVE making things pretty. I tried figuring out how to make furniture renovations a business-y thing but with cost and time and opportunities to mess up, I couldn't quite commit to it. I thought a lot about getting a job but couldn't imagine one that I would feel passionate about. The fact that I am blessed enough to have these choices is amazing, but I still couldn't figure out exactly what to do with myself. It's not like my parenting gig is up either, with two teenagers and an incredibly busy husband I have to be pretty light on my feet in adapting to whatever emergency school project, home repair, doctors visit or gaggle of hungry kids pops up. You know what I mean.

Then I made a zipper pouch.
And I kind of fell in love. You can read about that more here. Opening an etsy shop feels like it works well with my  life right now, it fits with my blog and I am having a lot of fun (and a tiny bit of frustration) learning how to set it up and market it and whatever else you are supposed to do with an eensy new business.

So back to that friend, the one who is feeling left out. I want to tell her that her time will come. It's hard to know what will shift into place and allow her that opportunity, but surely something will! I don't want to sound too cheesy, I just want to reaffirm that everything changes. Things that are hard right now won't always be, and dreams that are on the back burner will have their chance if we keep nurturing them.

And that, my friends, is enough of that. If you want to see my etsy shop you can visit it here, or you can click the etsy badge on my sidebar, or you can check out the "BarnacleDesigns" tab up on my navigation bar OR you can come over and I'll just spread pouches out all over the table and we can gush over them. If you want to keep your small stuff all zipped up together, trust me, I've got you covered!

2 Responses to “How My MidLife Crisis Led Me to Opening an Etsy Shop”

  1. I love this Shelly! So honest and open and inspiring. I feel very much like an empath too. I took on WAY too much at my last job and it took me a while to decompress from that. I finally feel like I have the space to start thinking about what *I* want and where I want to go in my life. Thanks for sharing this. Makes me feel better about my current state and life! <3

    1. Thanks so much Michele, for your sweet comment and especially for your kind support of my endeavors. I'm happy to hear that things are balancing out for you in beautiful Northern Virginia :-)


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