Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The End of an Era

About 4 years ago, we moved from our rented flat in Oakland, to our newly purchased home in another town. The town is north and east of San Francisco, and not too far from what some people around these parts call, "Wine Country." I went from working and running my business out of a one-car detached garage to having to rent a separate studio space for my business, because the house we purchased is sooooo small, it didn't have the space to accommodate my growing business. I have been in my studio space for 4 years. And, after this month, I'll be leaving it behind. In the four years I've been in that space so much has happened. It has been some of the most eventful, emotionally difficult, emotionally draining, exhilarating, exciting, and excruciating years of my entire life. Since we moved to this little town, and since I started working out of my studio, I have gone through the active stages (and monthly ups and downs) of trying to conceive. It was at my studio I got the phone call that my SIL was pregnant with baby number two. I had to go into the back storage room to have a breakdown out of ear shot of my employees. Little did I know I was already pregnant myself that day. It was in that studio my husband and I embraced for the first time after learning we were pregnant. (My husband shared the office space with me for a time and so we used to work out of the same office). It was from that location that my husband and I got in the car together to go to our first pregnant ultrasound appointment--all full of hope. It was that same office my husband returned to alone afterward, to continue working as I fell apart, alone, at home. It was in that studio I had my first phone consultation with an "Infertility Specialist" and learned I had a condition called High FSH that would (according to him) make it almost impossible for me to conceive. It was from this office we made our first phone call to an adoption agency, and spent hours together (my husband and I) trolling adoption agency websites.

It was the work I did from this studio that gave me the biggest "breaks" of my career: I was on tv (twice), my work was featured in at least 5 (that I can think of off the top of my head) magazines.

It was this place of work I came to, day after day, week after week, month after month, to pound out the events, to be active, to keep my mind on something other than the heartbreak I was experiencing over these past many years. It was there that I steeped in the emotions of my infertility, my loss, my grief as I wired and taped flowers for boutonnieres, as I cut flowers and placed them into arrangements, as I tied ribbon on Bridal bouquets. As my heart broke, I poured what was left into the flowers for hundreds of people's most joyous moments. The work kept me going. I am glad for that.

It was in that studio my many work friends met my son for the first time. It is in this place of work that I now also have: a pac-n-play, toys, sippy cups, blankets, and photos of my precious boy. It is where I now smile and chat with my designers, swapping stories of what our kids are up to.

And now, it is time to leave.

After a very expensive adoption, and a down-shifted economy which gave me a less-than stellar 2008, business-wise, I can not afford to keep the studio through the winter. As opposed to other years where I could afford to float it through the winter after having an outrageously busy wedding season, this year, I just can't. And I have no weddings or events booked after next week, not until spring. Zip. Nada.

So where am I going to go? Everything is going into storage. For now. I found a really awesome place I would love love love to rent, but can only justify it if I share it with another designer, or another person who would need office and client meeting space. I had someone who wanted to do it, but they have pulled out--due to money and the shaky economy. I haven't been able to find anyone else. I am so incredibly frustrated because the spot would be such a step up for me--it has everything I need--it would be so incredible. But we are trying to SAVE money and LOWER my overhead, not increase it. So, I am having to let it go. And I am going into limbo. When spring comes around, I don't know where I'll be. And that is a scary feeling.

But, for the next few months, I will be playing the role of full-time mom, with a guest appearance as part-time business woman. I will still have to meet with potential clients (hopefully lots!) I'll be writing proposals, and probably working on networking/marketing. I know I will be changing it up for next year: a higher base minimum for events, and only doing ONE event per week, as opposed to three. Yes, you heard me, until now, I've been doing a max of three per week which sometimes turned into four. Not so much this past year but last year (2007) I had multiple events every single weekend. That with a new baby almost killed me. I won't do it any more. I want to work smarter, not harder.

And, my husband needs me to be around more, too. Now that he is working this new job in the City and commuting 3-4 hours per day, he needs to rest more on the weekends. He is exhausted by the end of the week, and as much as he wants to spend time with Handsome Man on the weekends, taking care of a very active toddler all day while your wife is out in BFE setting up an event can wear you out. And then he has to turn around on Monday and start the commute/work grind all over again. It's hard. It's hard on my son not getting to spend much time with both parents together. It's like we're a divorced couple sharing custody. Ack.

Also, my husband has said several times lately, "There's no way we can live this way if we have a second child."

Yes, you heard it right.

We don't have any solid plans yet. We are trying to see where this economy is going to take Mister's company. Right now we are just trying to pay off our debts as aggressively as possible, and sock some money away in the savings account. But, yes, we are at least talking about what the next steps could/might be......to add another child to our family. Eventually. Maybe. See? everything's in limbo. Right now we're thankful that one of us is steadily and gainfully employed and we are praying that that doesn't change. (ie let's hope the company doesn't go belly up, yes?)

So, changes are afoot, and I'm not sure where I'll be 3 or 4 months from now.

But for now I have to get through the last weekend of events--and start packing up the studio. I've gotta be out by Nov. 15th.

And, for Luna and Tiff, here's those pictures you were asking about. Really, they don't do it justice...but hey.


luna said...

oh frenchie, I love your ode to your studio. so many life events and emotions. I can imagine it will be really hard to leave that behind. I can only hope that change will be good, and that an even better opportunity will present itself this spring.

at the same time, what an amazing success your business has become! so very impressive. hard to imagine you managed that with a new baby. you are a superstar.

I love the pix -- are those the wine caves? really awesome. your displays are gorgeous! I hope you get some of the photog's pix for your portfolio so you can book some more gigs for spring.

in the meantime, I hope you enjoy your time at home and some rejuvenation. I'm really happy to hear your hub thinking in a new direction. I hope your time together brings you to the right decision for you.

Lori said...

Wow. A lot of passages have happened in that studio.

So much in this post! I love the asparagus bouquet.

Congrats on resolution about baby #1. Now that there's a will, may the way appear...

JJ said...

Oh sweetie...this made me teary. I am honestly in AWE every time you post pictures of your work--I would love to move and come work with (or for) you-I think Ive told you before Ive always wanted to work in the floral industry. Just dont have your talent!

On the bright side, you can blog more=) And keep us all posted on the exciting things that will happen for you all.

Lots of hugs to you!

Kami said...

Oh, I am sorry. I hope that you get your dream place in the Spring by some miracle.

Speaking of miracles . . . yeah on DH being open to #2. I really hope that one works out!

Peeveme said...

Wow, I am so sorry you going through such change. On the other hand it sounds exciting to hunker down and start thinking about another baby. Sounds like your DH is open if he feels a little more secure about how you'd pull it off. I have some idea what you are going through, living in the Bay Area (expensive), trying to afford fertility treatments, unstable job situation (my job is secure but Dh's n not and any new job will require wither a commute or travel). It sure feels like hunker down time. Plan and prepare time.

You work is beautiful. Have you ever thought about teaching some classes? I wonder if the local community college has some type of extension classes (we call them Quest where I work...targeted towards seniors)....just a thought for what you could do over the winter.

Melanie said...

Wow. You are a talent. This has to be an emotional time for you...but I believe both the economy will pick up adn your next studio will signal an even bigger new beginning.

Bee Cee said...

What a lovely story about your studio. Such much happened there, and even despite the 'downs' it would have been sad to leave.

I hope you enjoy being a full time mum for a few months and that the next 'place' brings you every happiness.