"Life is a lot like jazz... it's best when you improvise." George Gershwin
I had the perfect post planned for this week! I had heard amazing things about the Schär bagels so when I finally found some, I picked them up right away and was planning on making them a couple different ways and reviewing them for you. I was so excited! I got some cream cheese and lox and set Sunday as the day to take photos, nosh and write out an outline for my review…and then...this happened:
My Planning Hobby
I have a little confession to make. I can be a bit of a control freak. I have been all my life. It is something that I have been working on and has been getting better, but it still tends to manifest itself in planning. I am a planning enthusiast. I have lists of lists and planner books and journals, pinterest boards and all the things. My business plans are in beautiful folders and are updated regularly. Whenever we go on a trip I’m the one with the binder and I would make long term goals for everything. Then 2020 happened. Sam and I joke that one of the greatest oxymorons of our age is a 2020 planner.
As an aside, I actually did alter my 2020 planner into one for 2021 (Thanks to my trusty Cricut, printer, some old magazines and decoupage skills):
....And Then 2020
I was on the verge of having the best year of my career in 2020 with appointments, photo shoots and fashion shows booked out months in advance. I had big dreams of going mobile with my business and converting an RV into a mobile luxury spa. In my personal life, some things were rough due to a very unexpected death in the family, but other than that shock things were going pretty much “according to plan”. Sam and my upcoming wedding was planned to the tiniest detail and everything was going along pretty swimmingly until the end of March...and we all know what happened to all of my perfect plans then.
It started off with me being grateful for the “extra time off” to get my beloved RV project off the ground, but soon a few weeks turned into a month, turned into 3 months and I watched the date for my (again well planned) Grand Opening come and go. As the days turned into weeks and then turned into months I realized I needed to prepare for not going back to my “normal” practice anytime soon.
The rest of the year passed in a bit haze. I attempted to shift my practice fully online and spent a ton of money doing so. I bought professional equipment, paid for a new HIPAA safe telehealth platform and paid for a lot of advertising to stay afloat, so when my clients didn’t follow and I wasn’t reaching new ones I spiraled into a pretty dark place. It wasn’t pretty and if it weren’t for my amazing family I don’t know what would have happened to me. Full disclosure: I was so depressed I didn’t get out of bed many days and when I did it took a miracle for me to do anything but sit on the couch. It’s exhausting when you put yourself out there and it feels like nobody cares.
On top of that awfulness in my business and the feeling that I was losing myself, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. They luckily still caught it early, but she still needed to have surgery and radiation. My mom is my hero and one of my best friends and that gutted me even further, but I was able to pull myself together enough to put together a supplement and herb plan and give her some acupuncture treatments. Then, completely mentally exhausted, I ended up back in bed for about a week.
It was during that week, after watching a ton of movies with makeovers I realized I needed my own. Not a “take your glasses off and put on makeup and a new dress” kind of makeover, more of a “change your environment and change your life” kind of makeover.
Once I started looking into opportunities outside Oregon things started moving quickly in a positive direction. The question was...if I don't stay in Portland, where do I go?
I’ve lived in Oregon my entire life (minus a year when I attempted to go to film school...long story for another time) and I've lived in the Portland Metro since I was 18. Somewhere around mid 2018 it stopped feeling like home, but I was scared to do anything about it. After crashing and burning this year so hard I realized that I needed a change of scenery to find out what’s next. Sam has been wanting to move back to California for a while, and after talking it over with him we decided to use this as an opportunity to start over. It hasn’t been without emotional challenges; it really is so hard to watch everything you worked for get sold off or put into storage. Anyone who has gone out of business will tell you the same. It feels personal even though, deep down, I know it’s not.
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there are far too many things that you can’t plan for. I know that my story is nowhere near the worst tale of 2020 and I am very aware and grateful for my privileges that offer me options and opportunities that others may not have, but I still feel like my world has exploded. I am so very aware of the loss and grief we are experiencing as a nation and am no way trying to make light of it with toxic positivity. I am only sharing my own personal experience. Please don't take my casual nature and optimism as me being flippant about everything that is going on right now. 2020 was a legit dumpster fire.
Now in 2021, for the first time in my life, I am going to a new place without much of a plan in place. I am truly improvising for the first time in my life. I'm scared to death, but I'm excited to finally be letting go of the past, and right now I feel like not knowing every single step is ok. I guess the point of this post was to share with you the idea that improvising and making things work can be difficult, but the outcome can be just as tasty (or maybe even more so) than your original plans.
Dr. Melissa is an Doctor of East Asian Medicine as well as a self proclaimed geek glam girl with a passion for gluten free food, self care rituals and beauty products. She is based in Petaluma, CA.