"What a difference a year makes" is one of my favorite statements to think about.  If I'm moving forward, then today, exactly one year from this date last year, looks and feels very different, for the better, no matter what the external circumstances may be.

It's been one year since I turned in the keys to an experience that changed my life in profound ways.

Port of Raleigh was my baby, a passion that I so badly wanted to make a living off of.  It was my business; my first go at real entrepreneurship, I told myself, even though I'd had other ventures.  The challenge was that I already had a baby: a beautiful girl named Hazel, born on the same day that my retail lease agreement landed in my email inbox.  The other challenge was that while my passion drove me, I was unaware that my drive to make a living off of my passion was handicapped by traumas that ultimately kept the business from reaching its full potential.

I have no regrets, but I do have a greater appreciation and understanding of the beauty and power of reflection.  I've spent the past year contemplating all that was and how I was with Port of Raleigh.  I've thought about all of the things that were within my control and all that were not.  All of the ideas turned into reality and all of the opportunities left on the table.  All that I actioned with joy and all that I, unfortunately, did not.

Every reflection led to a lesson.  Some lessons were pragmatic, like spotting a shit landlord and negotiating better lease terms, and others were deeply personal and liberating to face.  I realize now how the energies I put into everything (how I worked, the physical store, my thoughts, etc.) vibrated back emotionally and financially, positively and negatively.  I discovered a longstanding operating system based on lack running inside my head, quietly doing its damage.  And I learned to give myself credit and a big ass hug when credit and a big ass hug are due.  I have been my own worst critic, but a year later, I can now lovingly acknowledge that I jumped into the deep end as a new mama and retail entrepreneur and be damn proud of what I did with the consciousness I had at the time.

I had no idea how not-ready I was to take on the demands and nuances of my chosen path.  Between the joys and messes of motherhood and the excitement of pursuing a lifelong dream to have a store of my own, I was blinded to internal and external obstacles.  Thankfully, not knowing what you're getting into can sometimes end up being a good thing.  While owning and operating a retail store was not my calling, it was my greatest lesson and catalyst for personal growth.  I experienced the lowest points of my life as well as moments of complete fulfillment and joy during my time as an owner, operator, buyer, merchandiser, marketer, bookkeeper, online store administrator, photographer, social media manager, shipper, janitor, boss, mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend.  It was a lot, but I'm better for it now.

Self-inquiry as to whether or not I was living my dream instead of working in it began a few years before the store closed.  When our second daughter, Nicola, was born, I knew that my dream had changed, and it was time to move on.  Time to focus on family in a new way, discover what I am here to create, and more importantly, how.  I love creating experiences, curating, facilitating, sharing, and amplifying joy.  I love design, retail, and building a community.  I also love writing, and I missed it very much.  I missed having time alone to think, to flow with my work.  I was ready for a change.  I knew what I wanted it to feel and look like, but how would I get there?  That's the beauty of time and space; once something has been clearly defined, it has a way of working itself out.

Things feel very different from one year ago, from my day-to-day schedule to personal energies.  One new day at a time has led to more presence with my family, working on small and fulfilling design-related projects, and writing a lot.  Though mainly writing for myself via journaling and sharing on AM Notes, the most significant written work has been about the five years I devoted to being a small independent retail store owner and operator.  From personal accounts to observations behind the cash wrap, I'm really excited to piece my stories and insights together to create a book(!!).  And because I know that one year from today will look and feel very different, my goal is to publish the book by December 2021, right before my family and I step into a new chapter of our lives.  I will share more on that later, but for now, I'm happy to report that yes, indeed, what a difference a year makes.

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I grew up looking at this plaque, usually placed above a threshold in the living room or hallway. My dad bought it, and even though I saw and read it daily, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly understood its meaning. I now understand my dad better, too. The plaque now sits above a threshold at my sister’s home in LA, weathered yet still reminding us of this beautiful truth.