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The Big Quit

News about the "Big Quit" is everywhere lately. Most of the messaging I’ve read surrounding the Big Quit/Pivot and the “quick fix” for it is data-driven. Focusing on quantifying the phenomenon. Because numbers don’t lie. And though they may not, they also may fail to paint the complete picture especially when the major factor is human behavior. At best, numbers can come up with averages based on accurately derived sample sizes but averages do not speak for everyone. I’ve written in past posts and commented on numerous others that by attempting to quantify humans, the essence of what’s truly driving us is missed and the answers do not always lie in the numbers.

If we want to know why people are migrating in droves, we need to use the most powerful tools we humans possess, our voice, to ask the right questions and then be willing to listen with compassion. By asking people, each and every one of them, not why are you leaving but what are your needs and wants and what can I do to help care for you?…not by round tables and focus groups but by old-fashioned coffee dates….This may seem outlandish to some but if human capital is truly the essence of what hinders our business or helps propel it forward then it becomes essential!

In sharing the story of my own pivot, I hope you can connect with what propelled me, what drives me, and the values I take into each choice I make.

My Pivot

Pivoting is a choice and not for everyone but if you have an intention, a way forward to keep yourself afloat while moving in the direction of what fuels your fire—you can do great things for yourself and others around you.

For every choice that we make there is a loss embedded within it. It’s the loss that we’re actually choosing, and accepting that can propel us forward.

This realization helped me remain true to my values and who I truly am while adapting to the ebbs and flows of my choices along the way and if I need to…pivot again.

A point of inflection like the one we are experiencing right now in the workforce, economy and society as a whole does not come with a specific plan or goal because it’s something new that has not been done before, as many of the major shifts in our lifetime. For a period of time, we may have to make it up as we go along with courage, intention, and conviction that something better can be created to make the world a better place.

The life we want is not merely the one we have chosen and made. It is the one we must be choosing and making. —Wendell Berry

For me, this quote rings true as I continue choosing and making the life I’ve imagined for myself and my family: full of peace, love and the simplest experiences our current life has to offer. Financing it with my future. Trading security and predictability for joy in the present moment, that’s the loss I’ve accepted. For me taking the time to grieve my loss was an important part of healing and gaining closure. Also giving thanks for my overall experience: the opportunities given, taken and put to good use, skills acquired, world-traveled exposure, relationships made, and lessons learned were all part of me moving upward, out and forward with grace.

This part took time. A very long time and the length of time is unknown until the process begins. I'm still processing my choices, lessons learned, the ebbs and flows, and the values that continue shaping my choices today and in the future.

These past 18 months have revealed that security and predictability are imagined losses and ones I’ve actually discovered by choosing to live the life I imagined possible: in the here and now for myself, my family and others.

As founder of The Glass Room, I’ve been creating glass works of art for nearly 20 years—and for the past five, I’ve created a safe space for helping people manage life’s changes and transitions through the process of creating glass art.

Most recently I founded Botánicaromática to help people in need of self-care breathe easier with botanical aromatic support systems, helping them center their mind, body and spirit in the meantime. The time between what was, what is in the present moment, and the possibility of what’s yet to come. Ultimately achieving a state of allostasis or simply put…balance.

Navigating both businesses while remaining true to their, and my, values has been rewarding, yet it's been a long and challenging journey full of ebbs, flows, and pivots along the way, especially during this very interesting time. But all the while my commitment—to quality, authenticity, sustainability, balance, personalization and the experience they deliver individually—has remained front and center.

I invite you to take a walk with me to experience the ebbs, flows and pivots that have led both The Glass Room and Botánicaromática to where they are today, and the number one value that helped shape them.

My Journey: Past and Present

In 2004 the seed of The Glass Room was planted and in 2007 it launched into a thriving, creative storefront in my hometown of Hoboken, NJ.

For 12 months life was good. I juggled a corporate full-time job, taught classes at night, and created commissioned works on the weekends. All on an old-school, low marketing budget: foot traffic, advertisements in the local paper and City Maps, and the trusted word-of-mouth. No social media noise to contend with! Life was really, really good!

In the spring of 2008, my husband Chris and I purchased the home we live in now, in farmland Sussex County, NJ, and as you know by early fall of that year the financial crisis struck us all like a ton of lead bricks and upended life as we knew it!

We tried to hang on but being faced with the uncertainty ahead: me potentially losing my day job (large financial institution), with an apartment, a shiny new business and now a mortgage, it soon became very clear that something had to give. So I pivoted and my short-lived dream-come-true came to a close and I adapted.

Fast forward to 2014. My point of inflection came after a long stint with burn-out, from the constant change at breakneck speeds and frequent international travel, all in the middle of yet another major life change and transition that was brewing—mid-life symptoms that nearly crippled my mind, body and spirit. I pivoted again and my nearly 30-year career came to a screeching halt, trailing behind it loads of baggage to sift through and reconcile, as I was also on my last semester of completing my Master’s degree in Organizational Change Management.

During this time I had used every tool in my toolbox: mindfulness, meditation, hot yoga, breathing techniques, therapy, massage and a small lavender-scented rollerball that I carried with me and discretely applied it, throughout the day, to my pressure points to remain sane, derailing any potential thoughts of internal and external carnage.

All this, in an effort to hang on to a job that was no longer serving me and what was tied to it, which I can now name as my identity or what I believed it to be back then from the ripe old age of 18. But the stress of it all had already taken its toll on my body and emotional state and the signs were clearly evident.

Soon after my departure, I had an unexplained triangular fibrocartilage (TFCC) tear in my right wrist with no apparent trauma and according to my surgeon, surgery was imminent.

Pain is a signal alerting us to pay attention and begin taking stock of what’s else is going on in all areas of our lives, and it was signaling to me, since earlier that year, that something was about to break. Me.

Later that year I woke up from surgery with a cast up to my elbow that I wore for six weeks. I plowed through it without painkillers and once again relied on my tool kit to help me through it and once again I adapted. It took six months to gain full range of motion in my dominant hand.

In the spring of 2015, I obtained my Master’s Degree and my thesis "Living Life in the Meantime (LLM): Helping people manage change and transition, by the process of creating a stained glass window," won best paper.

A short but fruitful proof of concept in the Winter of 2016 proved that my process had legs and in 2017 my thesis was published in The International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring. This was clearly a turning point for me.

All of this took place while I was still struggling through the ebbs and flows of mid-life symptoms that were now in full swing; teaching glass art in underserved communities through Glass Roots in Newark, NJ, Spanish in after school programs at The Churchill School in NYC (four-hour commute to and from); and private tutoring.

Even while continuing to make additional tried and true lifestyle changes: increasing my hydration and level of exercise, eating cleaner and getting more sleep, something was still not right.

Searching for additional natural holistic methods that could provide me the additional heart and headspace I so much needed to navigate what appeared to be my new normal—a barrage of hormonal imbalances, wreaking havoc on my mind, body and spirit—in the summer of 2019 I discovered The School for Aromatic Studies in NYC, now operating out of Virginia.

I quickly enrolled in their Level 1 Aromatherapy Certification course and completed my course material, case studies, passed my exam and obtained my certification in record time. I was once again energized, motivated and laser-focused!

Formulating for myself and seeing how my case studies also responded to the botanical aromatic goodness I was creating for them, I not only found much relief for myself but also discovered I had a calling—helping others enhance their own lifestyle regimens so that they too could breathe easier.

I knew then as I know right now that I just had to take it further! There is real power in uplifting yourself and in turn empowering others to do the same.

Skynergy (the first iteration of Botánicaromática) was born in early 2020 and again I had to pivot as the name Skynergy was causing all sorts of confusion with similar businesses taking on a similar variation of the name, and this is how Botánicaromática was born, just in time for the COVID-19 lockdown and my husband being laid off soon after from a job in the travel industry decimated by the pandemic. Once again I adapted.

In the meantime, while getting Botánicaromática off the ground and navigating a pandemic, I began my Level 2 Clinical Aromatherapy Certification process, completed 14 case studies, offered a buy-one-get-one for every product sold, and donated products to first responders, essential workers, and neighbors to help them breathe easier through the earlier part of 2021.

This fueled my internal fire to go deeper, completing half a dozen specialized courses and creating holistic support systems that work in tandem with our own internal support systems to further help create allostasis the balance we all seek, between the mind, body and spirit, helping my potential clients incorporate the experience into their existing daily practice that can become a ritual over time.

I also offered the experience of personalizing the support systems further based on the individual's needs through a free consultation.

My major lesson learned since I pivoted from corporate life, is that a major change like this takes time to assimilate and does not happen all at once. Living most of my working life multi-tasking, traveling, juggling priorities at breakneck speed, then running on empty did not make learning this lesson easy on me. It took me a long time—in very small increments—to reverse-engineer what took nearly 30 years to program, learning how to slow down by breaking things down into manageable steps.

I’m still getting comfortable with this notion. Every day taking it one step at a time.

Journaling, writing, creating and sharing my experience are also part of my learning process and ones that also take time.

My Values that Keep it all Going

From the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, quality, authenticity, sustainability, balance, personalization and experience have been at the forefront of everything that I do at both The Glass Room and Botánicaromática.

At The Glass Room only the highest quality glass, supplies and tools are used to create our unique glass works—one design, one client. We also set up our clients for success when creating their own unique glass art in our Living Life in the Meantime workshops.

At Botánicaromática, using only the highest quality organic ingredients to hand-craft our clean botanical aromatic support systems is our stamp of authenticity.

If I had to choose one value that embodies Botánicaromática, authenticity would be it.

Formulating each individual product made to order, without harsh chemicals and preservatives with a 30-day max shelf life, using sustainable, reusable and recyclable containers and packaging materials, reducing our carbon footprint and our clients’ is our promise.

Authenticity shows up again in our personalized labeling, hand-written note cards, individual packaging for each and every product, in separate draw-string burlap pouches, and the overall package presentation and fresh clean scent that escapes from the perfectly square cardboard box, permeating the air as soon it’s opened.

That breath of clean fresh air immediately engages the olfactory epithelium that’s directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus, in the Limbic System of our brain, where emotions are coordinated, behavioral responses regulated, and memories stored, closely linked to our hearts center.

The support our products offer and the joy they deliver is what sets Botánicaromática apart from the rest.

The extra time, effort and resources that go into creating this experience are worth it to me and the joy it brings my clients is priceless!

Everyone who has had this experience as a case study, through their own purchase or my gifting efforts, feels uniquely special. I know because they’ve gone out of their way to tell me so. Authenticity is Botánicaromática’s differentiating factor.

Most of my marketing efforts have been through my monthly blog posts on my website, sent monthly to my small email list and posted on my Instagram and LinkedIn accounts, letting people know what I’m up to and what I’m creating.

Most recently as a data-gathering experiment, I collaborated with a fellow herbalist—through my Herbal Circle Networking Group—who’s participating in pop-up markets around Brooklyn, NY. The information collected so far has been valuable as to what people are gravitating to, commenting on, and purchasing in those types of venues. It has also become clear that no one can speak to my brand the way that I can no matter how knowledgeable the person or good the intention.

I’ve also made connections with local Lavender and Herbal farms with some success, from the free samples I delivered, for future collaboration in their market space. But my reentry back into reality from the pandemic lockdown phase has been slow and that has hindered my continued in-person networking and relationship-building efforts so far this year.

Networking is not naturally in my wheelhouse, to begin with, but it’s paramount for me to reach the most people in need and for my business to grow. Getting back to basics, hitting the pavement, cultivating relationships is how collaborations are formed and word-of-mouth spreads.

Even though the conversion rate of getting more people to experience my botanical aromatic goodness has been an incremental process with its own ebbs and flows, I am hopeful for the future!

My Vision that Makes it all Worthwhile

My intention for 2022 is to combine the holistic goodness that both The Glass Room and Botánicaromática have to offer. Starting by reducing my offering to a subset of products, like my aromatic inhalers, that can reach the most people and address the single most universal need today—breathing easier: coupled with mindfulness, meditation, breathwork and creating glass art in an experiential setting for a personalized experience.

A respite from the day-to-day in a safe space helps people rediscover their center, find balance, and breathe easier, allowing themselves the freedom to explore, play and create with glass: a material as fragile as they may be feeling. It helped me rediscover mine.

Getting out and speaking with as many healing and wellness professionals as humanly possible is essential to me.

Delivering free sample inhalers for them to try out in an effort to form a collaboration, complementing their practice and providing greater support to the community they serve is my purpose.

What I create is clearly not for everyone. It’s for people that are already motivated to begin making incremental lifestyle changes and enhancing their tool kit for managing change in their everyday lives: for themselves, their family and the people around them.

The herbal, aromatic, botanical space has become very crowded and noisy in a very short period of time, like Studio 54 in NYC, on a Saturday night, in the early 80’s….and it’s only going to get even more congested as change is here to stay.

Competition is fierce and so many seem to be touting a panacea—a healing remedy for all sorts of ailments priced at $9.99, sidestepping quality, purity and sustainability.

That’s neither who we are nor what we stand for. Our products are fairly priced for the quality, authenticity, sustainability, balance, personalization and experience we deliver.

As I continue on my journey, in my own lane. I am grateful to the Universe for presenting me with opportunities— for learning, creating and remaining curious, to authentically, creatively and aromatically continue serving others.

Are You on the Verge of a Pivot?

Pivoting is also not for everyone. But if this is your point of inflection, know that we humans are resilient and can adapt to anything as long as we continue creating a life where our basic needs are met and we feel cared for because when we do, we can continue making great things happen with so much less and in return, we gain so much more than we ever expected!

Before pivoting consider your answers to these 7 questions:

  1. Why am I considering pivoting? (e.g. the kind of work, the people, culture, lack of equity, inclusion, balance, flexibility, pay etc…)

  2. What is my intention for making this change?

  3. What is the loss I’m willing to accept?

  4. Whom will my decision affect?

  5. How will I sustain myself (others) in the meantime? (e.g. savings, part-time gigs, freelance work, retirement funds)

  6. What could I gain and/or lose (physically, mentally, spiritually) if I remained?

  7. What would need to change?

I hope these questions can help you take stock of your tool kit, what is driving you, and what you need to thrive. My real-life experiences have taught me that with a little support from my tool kit, I can breathe easier in times of uncertainty, change and transition as I continue creating a life worth living. And so can you!

Contemplating the “Big Quit” or know of someone who is? Share this post and pay it forward.

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