I’ve never been a one-trick pony. I’ve never had just one love, to the exclusion of all others.
So it isn’t surprising that I’ve spent the past ten years (or more) spinning plates…
- Plate 1 – cleaning houses
- Plate 2 – home and family
- Plate 3 – arts and crafts
- Plate 4 – reading and learning…voracious and unending
- Plate 5 – writing
- Plate 6 – teaching
- Plate 7 – gardening
I’m sure there are more.
But when it comes to pulling my weight, and earning money, I’ve also done whatever I could. Especially in the past ten years where, with the small exception of a part-time job in a woman’s home office, I have not stepped foot into the corporate/”working” world.
I haven’t missed it…the bickering, the manipulation, the high school days revisited in dozens of unhappy desk jockeys who hate their lives.
Now I’m not saying that everyone hates their jobs or lives…just all of the ones I encountered!
I tried building the cleaning business…and was met with monumental ups and downs. So much so that, when I would acquire a new cleaning client I would mentally review all of the clients I currently had and try to figure out who would be next to lose a job, move, retire, or otherwise upset the apple cart of income I was receiving. With every ‘up’ in income, I would see a corresponding ‘down.’
And let’s face it, cleaning toilets is no one’s dream job. I derived a sense of satisfaction from it – making something clean out of a dusty mess – and I wasn’t having to punch a time clock or deal with women who acted as if they were still in high school cliques, but it wasn’t my lifelong dream and desire.
So in 2007 I began teaching classes. This grew, and grew, and GREW.
Except when it didn’t.
Last year it was last minute RFID implementation in one of my main host sites. They canceled classes willy nilly, not rescheduling, just canceling. This would happen a few weeks or a month before the class – far too late to fill with anything else that could make me money.
This past January, when I received a request for 34 classes, I was over the moon. It meant doubling my average monthly income from last year. Something I desperately needed because I had finally given up on my cleaning biz. I have three dedicated clients, and for as long as they need services, I’m up for it. But I’m not looking for new ones, not even accepting new ones, and I had already made the decision to focus on classes and writing.
Then last week dealt me another huge blow. My biggest client decided to remove 21 classes from the roster. Not because I had done anything wrong, or because there were any problems with my performance in any way. It was simply a change in policy on the types of classes they would host. Even in light of offering them a long list of other possible classes, they chose to cancel instead of substitute. This cost me nearly $2,800 in income.
And then yesterday, another blow came. I had scheduled five classes with a site I use off and on. It meant, according to my figures, the possibility of about $1000 in additional income. Last night I received an email that, due to the director of programs leaving after 30+ years, they were canceling their summer classes and would resume in the fall.
Again it seems that for every step forward, I end up taking two steps back.
I won’t get into the HOURS I spent scheduling all of these classes on the Google Calendar, creating invoices and even preparing future posts in TDN that would automatically post five days before a class to remind folks. In fact, I scheduled so many that I broke my database. It refuses to let me in to delete them now! (This means I get to check TDN every day for the next four months and delete the post as soon as possible. Fun, fun, fun!)
I have always shied away from the abstract. And to me, writing is nothing but abstract when it comes to income. I love it, but will it pay? I love to write stories, and those who have read them have had good things to say, but that doesn’t pay the bills folks. Not at all.
Yet, with each blow I receive, I find myself inching closer and closer to just dropping it all and saying, “Screw it, I’m going to write. I’m going to write, write, WRITE and just see what happens.”
Last night, with the TDN database not working, locking me out, giving me errors, along with a recalcitrant child who doesn’t want to do her chores, less and less money earned each month, et cetera…I just broke down and cried. I’m angry, frustrated, and so much more. I feel as if I have done everything right, been professional, given good quality classes, and yet, here I stand.
So I took the night to work it out and here is what I decided…
- I’m raising my prices – I’m not leaving my house for less than $200 (a few exceptions apply on this…women’s groups, some charitable organizations)
- I’m adding in a cancellation clause with my class hosts – cancel with less than one month’s notice and pay 75% of the class fee, two month’s is 50%, three months is 25% (this won’t apply to classes that are not happening due to lack of sign-ups)
- I’m restricting our homeschool outings to less than three or less per week – I feel like I’m never at home anymore!
- I’m reducing my teaching availability to no more than eight classes per month
- I’m damned well FINISHING my book projects I have planned
- I’m going to venture back into the world of writing for gardening, parenting, homeschooling magazines
So, that’s the story, folks. I’m pissed, frustrated, sad and stressed. But I’ve got some ideas in place and now I’m going to put them all together and see where we end up. Change isn’t easy…but each experience has been leading me to this place, this moment, where I stand now.