Tag Archives: business decisions

Expectations of Happiness

How does one define happiness, and why is our own definition so illusive?

It’s a weird rhetorical question.

I have no solid answer myself, as I can find my happiness sitting alone in a room, meditating, during a quiet massage session, or sitting in my hammock.

On the same token there are times that I feel like I should be happy when I’m not.

Today is the 4th of July. Former president Trump and 2020 ruined what shred was left of my patriotism. I should be happy to celebrate this holiday, but I have been grumpy all day long. At the same time I am fighting a desired to run away.

I could apply for a management position at what is now my part-time second job, they are hiring for many positions with an impending new building opening. It would be a massive promotion and I’m certain they want me to do so. It could be equivalent to income I make from the clinic, maybe a hair more, and the work would likely be much easier on me physically. However, the stress levels would be high, I’d probably be on-call a lot, and likely end up working as much, if not more, than I do now. It’s not my own business, and it’s not the intentional community I desired.

The skills might help with my dream community, but at this point I have a strong awareness that I can learn anything I need in a very short span of time, so the learning lesson is much less of a draw these days. Beyond that, 2020 again ruined my desire to work with elderly in any fashion, and I am already considering quitting the part-time work because of it. I would have much less headache and Saturday afternoons off, something that seems really appealing with our new mess related to dialysis.

The clinic still has me occupied 5 to 6 days a week and I feel like I work with platonic family. It is a good feeling and I know my work there is genuinely helping many people. Literally the only real drawback is that it is hard on my body and requires many hours of self care. Also because of that, I know my income will always be limited and I have likely already reached my maximum.

If I stay where I am and doing what I am doing then life will be fairly unchanged for years to come. It’s not really a horrible thing, but I am simply just tired of bearing the weight of a family alone. I have done it for almost 16 years and on very few occasions Nathan or I had to grovel to our parents for assistance. Most of them were right after we moved to Kansas city and turned around to deal with his hospital stay. It was a very rough period and the only period that I had to beg for parental assistance more than once. Out of 16 years I’ve asked my mom for money 4 times, and Nathan’s mom about the same (maybe a couple more times). The rest of the 16 years has fallen squarely on our shoulders, and only the last 10 have been my sole responsibility. When I state it that way, it doesn’t seem like that much, but my experience of it is just wearing me out.

I’ve been contemplating grad school, but know I can’t get a loan. So to that end I’m contemplating taking the MCAT and Mensa tests. It’s my hope to get scholarship if I do well enough, but I’ve set no direct commitment yet, only inquiries on tests and chiropractic college.

I’m also contemplating simply looking into a loan to start a massage school of actual merit. THAT I already have enough knowledge and commitment for. God knows KC needs a decent massage school, or I’d be able to find a quality trade partner easier. It would be a ton of legwork and writing on the front end, skimping by financially until a student body could be acquired and actual classes could begin. There would be accreditation processes and board certification processes, course management and all of the regular business and accounting issues to deal with, all out of whatever loan I managed to procure. It would be fast paced and grueling for several months to get set-up and functional, and everything would ride on loans until students began enrollment. Not impossible- my massage school had just done that when I enrolled 14 years ago and they are still functional.

This week the chiropractor encouraged me to shift my business to a full LLC, and I wondered if that was my cue to lean that direction. I simply don’t know.

Part of me is perfectly fine with settling and riding the calm waters of maintaining what I’ve already created. Especially if I quit the part-time job and get my Saturdays back for relaxation and fun.

Part of me knows this is not really my Atira, and is downtrodden over the prospects that I may never see my actual dream manifest. That’s the part of me that wants to run away.

I simply don’t know, and my tired brain just wants the elusive happiness all the time. It’s there when I have the time and space to find it, but I have a hell of a time keeping it in me.

For now I leave you with my rhetorical question and ramblings.

May you find your happiness, know your expectations, and find a way to maintain it regardless. May you instill in your children the ability to maintain their happiness while also lifting our world up. May we all enjoy our lives mostly and find ease in navigating the paths of life. May you be comfortable with your life regardless of where the roads lead you. May you see that everything happens for a reason, sometimes to just give you clarity on what you don’t want. Above all may you know that the divine loves and supports you in all that you do.

Om Shanti

A Rant to Clear for Myself

I had a really feel good poem I wanted to write based on a dream last night. It will have to wait. I found myself very upset this morning and I need to clear my emotions to feel better again.

This morning I discovered that the sign I drew up for the clinic was completely different upon installation.

It was explained to me that the one chiropractor had dropped the ball and the other decided to take over and have his significant other redo it all together.

I wasn’t so upset because it was redone by his girlfriend, that’s typical thinking with your penis response to Get-R-Done mentality. Fastest solution, and bonus it’ll make my girl feel good. Whatever, boys will be boys.

What I was pissed over is that both chiropractors sat with me and answered a gaggle of questions that I asked to make sure it was a good readable sign that met the needs of the clinic as a whole. The chiro that took over apparently forgot or didn’t care that I had done that, because the finished sign is not only unreadable from any significant distance, but snubs some of the practitioners in the clinic. That is what pissed me off. Maybe that wasn’t the intent, but that is definitely what came across.

But hey I’m just a dumb massage therapist right?! Nevermind that I have 2 years of actual work experience in graphic design having done hundreds of business signs and tee-shirts both of which readability is a huge concern. I left graphic design, not because I wasn’t good at it and got fired. No, I left because wages were too low and during the summer I worked 60 to 70 hour weeks and winter would only be 25 to 30. It wasn’t a good combo.

Now I simply don’t know: maybe the GF is also a graphic artist, but by the looks of the finished sign she has never done design for signage. I would have checked on that, or at least remembered the conversation where I asked all the myriad of questions. If she hadn’t done signs he could simply have said to her “the other designer brought up these things as concerns, maybe we can do something to check and make sure they are accounted for”. That way his girl could still have gotten the ego boost and a decent sign still could have been accomplished. The sign that is now up would have been a mostly okay business card or letter head or website header, but not a full scale outdoor sign. As for the mostly, I will get into that more in a few.

First, the sign was originally a discussion as an addition to current signage to catch more attention from traffic. It was requested to have some color to gain attention. Originally, it was just going to be one sign and thus needed to match what was already in place. I offered to use the existing logo for the color pop, but pointed out that for cost reasons it would be best to turn it from gradient fill to flat color. Both chiro’s initially agreed.

Next, I can easily tweak any design I do, so if speed was a concern I could have had quick turn around. Additionally, once a decision to redo all the signage was made, that too would have been a quick adjustment- copy, paste, resize to fit, add or remove text as necessary. At that point congruency only needs accomplished between the current edit and resized versions, so if a new font had been desired that too was a quick adjustment. On the original most of my time was devoted to rebuilding the logo as 1 flat color, but shit happens, if you changed your mind just let me know. It simply feels like a bit of a slap in the face that my work and knowledge on the subject was completely disregarded and ignored.

So here is the gist of what the final sign looks like.

Obviously I left actual business info off.

Like I said, it’s a decent layout if the printed material is close to your face. But when your goal is supposedly to claim passing cars, you’ve completely failed. All of the fonts could have been larger and more bold, but especially the acupuncture line.

Here’s the deal, from years of experience and education I know how to tell if something is readable at a distance. The easiest would have been just ask me. But, you could have said “I’d really like to get in good with my girlfriend by letting her do this, do you have any tips?” I would have replied with the following. Put the text full screen on the computer, set your monitor brightness to the max to simulate a sunny day, then step back at least 10 feet and see if you can read it. If not, it’s not readable to passing cars. The further away you can get the better, because that would give a driving car more time to notice, read, and process the information. As it is, the installed sign is barely legible across the street.

Now, where I continue my upset is over the way the font size prioritizes the modalities. As a business owner and one that has dreams of having a clinic even better than this one, I see immediately how this sign snubs other practitioners. This version is saying I have the PhD, so I’m more important. However, you wouldn’t own a business with multiple practitioners if it didn’t benefit you. Every practitioner helps pay the bills and without them you would flounder, everything would be on your lonely PhD ass to pay for and keep open.

When you have multiple services, it is to catch a wide array of needs. So the person driving past with an aching back, but who might be wary of chiropractic, could still note massage therapy and schedule with the LMT’s. The guy that just talked to his sister in Maine who told him she was wary of acupuncture but tried it and it did wonders, would maybe see the sign and call and find out more info.

This sign is more akin to if Target did this:

Obviously that would be a huge costly error, underselling their other products. That is why Target and Walmart call themselves “super centers”.

AND I never put my two cents worth in on any other aspect. Like when I did the design I wondered if there was any intent for additional locations or franchises in the future. If there had been, a well placed colon would have done wonders, and enabled those kinds of thoughts and plans to be a potential reality. I also had thought about possibility of expansion and adding other services and had contemplated layout options for being able to easily add other modalities. I never said anything, just did what the consus request was.

So yeah, my business mind saw broader perspective, potentials, and ramifications of decisions being made. It is partly from my experience in design and collegiate training, and partly from my real world experience as a self-employed massage therapist. I could have done amazing things. I could have simply helped them avoid this costly fail. But when those with letters behind their name disregard anyone with less education it’s their own loss. At this point the clinic now has several upset staff members that don’t like confrontation, so the downside is knowing that if any of them suddenly have better offers the clinic could shrink quickly. I even had that thought myself, knowing my skills are not respected in the way I deserve, and that’s design or massage.

May you have better days and know your skills are honored and respected. May you see your work as mattering. May you know how to take good advice when it is available. May you know how to meet your desires without offending those around you. May you see the broader perspective in a variety of ways and sense the best decision for all elements. May you have less costly mistakes. May you honor those around you for their skills and knowledge regardless of how many years they spent in school. May you make good decisions in business so that you can work less and make more. May you know that God supports and guides you if you let it flow.

Siva Hir Su

Victory and insights.

So the victory is my midwife is paid in full!!!! Yay! Happy dance and squeals of delight.

I even have a little bit saved for the trip to Acadia National Park in Maine the end of July. At this rate I think I’ll have enough to make the trip. It might be tight, but I can’t say no to free lodging, a beautiful experience, and visiting family I’ve not seen in nearly a decade.

That is wonderful relief.

On an entirely different topic, the insights came yesterday at a mandatory meeting our building had with the President and Vice President of our company. I have to say meeting them was far more comfortable than daily working tends to be. Everyone around me was running around stressing and I just wasn’t. I don’t know why in particular but it felt very comfortable and I even had a good albeit short conversation with the President.

He seems like a genuinely good guy, and the biggest take away from the meeting was that the owners are also good people.

It led to a long conversation with our pastor afterwards. We discussed how a company gets to where they have such genuinely good goals and set out to do good deeds, but end up having staffing and budget issues as I’ve seen. How the low people on the totem essentially still boil down to numbers. And how those ideals fail to carry through to all of the individuals in the organization.

It helped me gain some more clarity on my goals of Atira. The pastor used the phrasing that perhaps a company gets too large to fully understand all of the individual workings and really know it’s people. That the connections that express a person’s value are lost. That sentiment reinforced prior ideas I’d had that Atira should be a singular community. It could spawn franchisee opportunities or literally just help people learn how to start their own communities, but I really don’t want a company of mine to grow so large that the company itself begins to lose sight of it’s intent.

I want Atira to stay manageable so that I know for sure it is helping people both within and outside of it’s structure. I want to know that if all the individuals understand that, the better it functions and the more they can make happen in their lives and in the lives of others.

For instance: I know I want to give homeless people second chances by putting them to work- training and all, but I also acknowledge that minimum wage being just over $7 is highly unrealistic with the inflation we’ve had the last 20 years. I want Atira to be able to sustain realistic living wages for all of it’s staff members, and those with experience and drive do deserve to earn more.

Yet, I acknowledge that in order for there to be profits to divert for other charitable uses, there does have to be positive flow of goods and services being exchanged for properly set fees.

It is definitely a tricky balancing act, and one that though I now can see my employer aimed for, either did not reach or was unable to maintain. I want Atira to reach and maintain it.

Beyond that, yesterday’s conversations and interactions solidified that I have done very well for myself with much less effort than some. I pointed out to the President that I had only ever paid for two boxes of business cards and never did pamphlets or other costly marketing.

I left Facebook nonsense out of that conversation knowing that I had already gotten their attention over that. However, in talking to the pastor I did revisit it. Explaining that I have yet to see any benefit from Facebook, also knowing over 2 dozen people that have tried to use it for marketing. Most of those, myself included had far too negative cost-benefit imbalances in Facebook marketing. Offering up hundreds of free services or visits to get a pittance of mediocre to decent client base. It simply just never netted the good reliable clients that massage therapists, chiropractors, and other care providers survive by.

I count myself fortunate to have seen that pattern and ducked out before giving away too many hours of my life, my work, and my hands, to those that are ungratefully taking advantage of the freebie.

That is not to say I never give away services. In fact to this day I still do. However, I’m much more discerning in my free work. I give to those that truly value it, but otherwise might not be able to afford it. I also give away a fair number of massages to veterans, even those that can afford it. That is where I choose to give, and when someone shows their gratitude in the best way they know or have available, I’m more likely to give them repeat free services. I have one veteran that I bill for about every 4th massage, knowing he’s on a tight budget but that he sings my praises nearly daily. So essentially I do my best to catch him weekly and bill just one a month. That is my avenue for flowing charity for God. It is what I can do right now, so I do.

And besides, not dealing with Facebook took a huge stress off of me. No longer having to consider finding or creating good stock photography, and reducing my concerns of protecting people’s information and privacy. As a sole proprietor HIPAA is a potentially life threatening costly mistake waiting to happen, so I’m glad I stepped away from Facebook when I did.

Anyway, I’m utterly grateful for the whole lot, midwife being paid, meeting upper management, learning more about the company, and especially both the conversation with the President and our pastor.

Another thank you to the Divine for providing more clarity in my days and helping to continually redefine and become more specific with my desires and goals. I truly look forward to brighter days ahead.