Here’s a fun little story. Remember way back — at least, two months ago feels like "way back" given the thousands of miles Amy and I have traveled, the half dozen or so shows we’ve sold our products at, the cross-country move of our personal and business lives, and all the Pizza Hut along the way. Oh, and the whole getting married thing. Anyways. Remember way back in October, when we opened our shop in Amherst, NH?
Yeah, I hardly remember it either. But back then, after the paint on the walls had dried, we had given up trying to paint the back room or the bathroom, the furniture was all assembled, the cards were all sleeved, the product was inventoried and artfully displayed around the shop, Amy and I (and Raffy, I guess) finally had a chance to relax.
And boy, did we… not. We did not relax.
I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times this year how different it is to be a part of the business. It feels as though it has genuinely altered my brain chemistry. As with most jobs, there are tasks and deadlines and goals. But unlike with a lot of jobs, there's always "the next thing," which always happens to start before any of the other things are done. And with that comes a lot of exhaustion and stress, because, well, we’re never satisfied with what we’ve just accomplished — instead, we immediately start looking ahead to how we can use this recent accomplishment to further grow the business (and buy Raffy more sweaters).
Did Amy and I spend the night of our shop's grand opening relaxing? Nope! We stayed up late because we got caught up in day(evening?)-dreaming about what we would do with the business once this current lease is up. After successfully making it through months of stress and worrying about what we were doing and if it was the right thing to do, we celebrated with a splash of Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and went straight into “what’s next?”
“What’s next?” is an infectious question. With it comes the ever-present need to be thinking of the future. The present and the past don’t matter much other than what you can take from them to make the future. One of the things Amy and I first bonded over was our mutual desire to avoid complacency in our lives — it’s probably a big part of why she wanted me to join the business (other than the obvious need for an employee). This constant drive towards The Next Thing™️ is something we’ve both always lived with, and, I’ve realized in this first year of being in the business, it is essential if you want to continue to grow, to find success, and to learn from your mistakes (which we totally did not make this year. Those weird prebiotic shots we took right before our wedding weekend definitely didn’t ruin our ability to fully enjoy all of our favorite restaurants in Vegas. No way.).
(Above image from one of said restaurants, Best Friend. But also relevant to the topic at hand).
It’s an energizing question to be infected with. Within that question that we ask ourselves about the business, there's also the question of what to do for and with ourselves. As someone who spent nine years of his life designing his own courses around what a school district has deemed “necessary,” then having someone spend between 5 and 15 minutes observing said courses, and then being told everything he needed to do to be a “better” teacher, the fact that I get to decide with Amy what we do with our lives (business included) is a level of freedom that I haven’t really ever had. And that’s really exciting.
But with that excitement also comes a lot of stress and fear about what we ultimately choose to do, and it can reduce a person to a monotonous mess of thoughtlessly binging Holiday Baking Championship for (literal) days on end. And trust me, we've been there more than once this year. Thankfully, Food Network has various baking championships for the different seasons of the year — and we’ve watched them all (except for the Halloween one. For Amy, it's because she doesn't like spooky things. And for me? Listen. John Henson isn’t funny. He wasn’t funny on Wipeout, and he’s not funny on Food Network, so please stop showing me John Henson. And while I'm at it, stop showing me Bobby Flay (and his daughter). He’s not a real chef, he’s never cooked in a restaurant, he’s just a mediocre, middling “attractive” guy who uses chilis to try to trick people into thinking his basic, mediocre Southern American-adjacent food is “good.” Maybe John Henson’s a nice guy, though. I very much doubt that Bobby Flay is.).
Being in charge of yourself is a large task, and even more so when it's one that must be coupled with the task of running a business, which has to support the livelihood of two humans and a very chilly pooch who needs so many sweaters and blankies. It’s a lot. It’s arguably too much. But there isn’t any time to dwell on that, because we’ve got a lot of new products, new designs, and an entire rebrand (???) to think about for the new year, and we’ve got to start planning what we’re doing so that in 994 days when our shop’s lease is up, we are ready to move into the next phase of this business.
But don’t worry, we’ve got some big relaxation plans to close out the year. A few things on the list? Tackling our enormous to-be-read lists, playing Scrabble, (finally) exploring New England a bit (and not just the route to our printer to pick up our orders) — and watching more Holiday Baking Championship, obviously.