Why I Had to Quit My Floral Career

i quit being a floristWedding floral design seemed like the perfect job for me. I adore flowers. I can spend several minutes just examining a single perfect fuchsia or gloriosa lily. It sounds weird but I feel like flowers speak to me and tell me how they want to be arranged. I’m inspired by color and scent. I also love the planning aspect: coming up with a wedding vibe and color scheme, writing recipes for each arrangement, and making it all a cohesive visual experience. Brides told me I was really good at transforming their vision into reality, which makes sense because HSPs are good listeners and have great imaginations.

But now that I know I’m an HSP, I understand why owning my own wedding floral business was perhaps one of the worst jobs I could choose for myself. I had a fair amount of success in the industry, but the stress and anguish I felt pretty much all the time far outweighed the success.  The job required skills that don’t come easily to me (or most HSPs) at all.

  1. Pressure: Like most HSPs, I don’t do well under pressure. Talk about pressure: wrong flowers sent, flowers dying, crazy mothers of the bride, picky grooms with way too many opinions (the worst!), pulling all nighters to finish, stuck in traffic with a truck full of flowers on a hot day, huppah blows over in the wind 1 hour before the wedding ceremony. I’m getting all flustered just remembering these things.
  2. Selling myself. For days before each consultation I’d have to pump myself up. I am not a natural saleswoman. It was like having to do job interviews multiple times a week, every week, which is kind of hellish.  This did become easier with practice. I got quite good at consultations and booked a majority of the clients I met with because I’m friendly and can connect well with people in a short amount of time.  But I never stopped getting butterflies/mild panic attacks. I felt wired for hours after each consult- a mix of adrenaline and relief- even after 7 years in the biz. Just being honest.
  3. Responsibility: I took my job so seriously. Too seriously. It’s just flowers, right?  I wasn’t solving world hunger.  But I felt like there was so much at stake. I had one chance- one day- to wow them. I often feared being sued, ruining the wedding somehow or getting horrible reviews. Thankfully, these things never happened, but I’ve had friends who have had to deal with some serious issues.
  4. Delegation: As I hinted in the previous point, delegation, especially under pressure, is hard for me. When I am flustered it’s so hard to think logically. I was often so stressed out that my brain would kind of shut down and I couldn’t come up with a plan of execution, much less divvy up the work and clearly communicate my expectations to each employee. I’m also a perfectionist, so sometimes the temptation to just do it myself got in the way of handing things off to others.  Since becoming a parent, I’ve had to get better at delegating things to my husband and other helpers.
  5. Thick Skin:I definitely don’t have this. Thankfully, I had mostly wonderful, appreciative brides. But I do remember a few parents and grooms that were so hard to please.  HSPs tend to dwell on others’ criticisms and take them to heart.  As I get older though, I care a little less about what others think.  One of the best things about aging!
  6. Charging Enough: I also had a hard time pricing my designs.  I probably should have charged much more for my flowers, time and expertise. I respect my peers in the industry who continue to make a great living off of wedding planning, floral design, and photography. They know what they are worth and they have no problem charging for it. It doesn’t bother them to be turned down based on price. They are confident that the right clients will come to them.

    wedding florist career
    photo by Trista Lerit Photography.

So basically, owning my own floral design business was just not right for me. I kept at it for 7 years. When I had my daughter, there was no question I would quit. I felt a slight sting of grief, but never regretted my decision. Actually, I think it was brave of me to finally admit that a big part of my life needed to change.  Yes, sometimes you have to stretch yourself to fit your career, and I did, but don’t stretch yourself so thin that you disappear. Life is too short- find a career that suits your passions, skills, talents. Maybe it won’t be a perfect fit in every way, but at least you won’t be spinning your wheels wishing you were a different person.  You’ll be thankful that you’re you because you are awesome for that job.

I still get my flower fix doing flowers for friends’ small weddings and events.  It’s all the parts of the job that I LOVE, minus the pressure and stress.  I also wouldn’t mind helping out other florists if I needed some income.  If they want to do the business stuff and leave the pretty flowers to me, I’m all for it!

wedding flowers for friends: the best way to get my flower fix. Photo by Orange Turtle Photography.
designing flowers for my dear friends is the most satisfying way to use my talent. photo by Orange Turtle Photography.

Is your current job a good fit for your HSP qualities? What do you think is the perfect job for you, and are you going to go for it?  

 

I’m Easily Grossed Out

i'm easily gOne day, Sisi pointed out the only brown leaf on our liquid amber tree.  Leave it to a Highly Sensitive Child to notice and care about a leaf that looks slightly different than the rest.  I glanced at it, then did a double take.  There was a bronze smudge on it.  To my horror, the smudge was actually hundreds of sesame seed sized caterpillars sucking the lifeblood out of that leaf.  I wanted to throw up.  Any bug, even cute bugs like lady bugs and caterpillars, becomes disgusting in large quantities.  At least to me.  My husband didn’t think it was gross at all.

Every day since my discovery, my daily ritual is to examine these bugs with equal parts horror and fascination.  The O.G.s  have long since flown away, but I’m now noticing more of those bronze smudges all over the trees.  They are multiplying.  Hundreds of leaves munched away. There is caterpillar poop everywhere.  It’s gross.  And so interesting, but so gross.  It makes me all jittery when I see them, like they are crawling on me.thanks for your support!

I’m just easily grossed out. I always have been.  Moldy bread, ants eating a dead bug, that crusty stuff around a milk carton.  I gag!

I used to get so disturbed on rainy days as a kid because the the floor of a school bus was all wet with dirty water, smushed snails from kids’ shoes, stray hairs.  I tried to look out the window but found myself searching the floor for nastiness.  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

It’s not just sights either.  Gross sounds (swallowing, slurping, burps) can fill me with anger.  This has a term actually- misophonia.  I don’t think I have true misophonia, but I can relate to those who do.

It’s also hard for me to ignore gross smells.  My neighbors wake me up out of a dead sleep sometimes when they smoke on their porch.  I just donated several perfectly good towels because I just couldn’t get this slight mildewy smell out of them, even after many washings with vinegar and baking soda.   I can smell peoples’ saliva on Matteo’s head all the time- he’s irresistibly kissable so it’s no wonder.
baby caterpillars and eggs

Why are HSPs so easily grossed out? We are sensitive to subtle stimuli.  We notice gross things that others don’t.  And then we think about what we’ve experienced, holding onto it almost obsessively to wrap our minds around it. HSPs have stronger emotional and physical reactions to stimuli- perhaps we feel more jittery, nauseous, stressed out by gross things than the average person?  I’m just throwing these ideas out there.

Does this serve some sort of adaptive purpose?  Probably.  I can think of specific instances when my high sensitivity to gross stuff protected me. Like when I could smell mold coming from the wall (turns out we had major undetected water damage!)  I also swore I could hear very subtle scratching sounds in the walls at night that my husband didn’t hear (turns out we had rats living in the attic.)  I can smell when food goes bad much better than my husband, who gets food poisoning a lot more than I do.  But there are probably many times when this high-gross-out-factor has caused me unnecessary stress.  It also makes parenting a bit challenging.

Parenting can be gross.  I’ve had to suck it up and confront things that gross me out.  Crazy diaper blowouts, snot sucking with the nosefrida snot sucker, open wounds, and vomit all come with the territory.  My duty and love for my kids far outweighs the gross-out-factor.  I’m the adult, so I jump in and do what I need to do.

Question: I’m super curious how HSPs in the medical field deal with all the blood, bodily fluids, smells?  Did it take some time to get used to it?  How do you cope?

 

No More Mommy Tantrums

mommy tantrums

You see it everywhere: Parents pushed to the limit.

At Macy’s, a dad mocks his sobbing child.  “Wahh wahh, I’m being such a baby!” he says, winking at me as if to say, “Aren’t kids ridiculous?”  The boy cries even harder.

At the library, a mom yells at her child, “Be quiet!  We’re going home now because you can’t remember to be quiet in the library!”  She drags her out kicking and screaming.

On the sidewalk I overhear a dad saying to his boy, “Man!  It’s only 8:30 in the morning and you’re already annoying me!  I seriously can’t handle you right now!”  His boy looks defeated.

You can tell I’m an eavesdropper from this post.  Sorry-not-sorry!  It’s partly an HSP thing– this hyperawareness of others’ emotions.  It’s almost impossible for me to pass over a parent and child in conflict without taking it all in.

Trust me, I’ve had my meltdowns, too!  I’m not really hot-headed or prone to anger, but when I reach my limit, I tend to get cold.  I shut down. I might roll my eyes and give a guilt trip.  I think that kind of coldness is just as hurtful as a full-blown mommy tantrum.

But fortunately, I’m steeped in enough awesome parenting resources that remind me over and over to be calm. Breathe. Be cool.  Your kids are people, too, even when they are acting crazy. It’s normal for them to act crazy.  They deserve to be treated with respect all the time, not just when they are angels.  I repeat these things like mantras almost every day.

Janet Lansbury calls it wearing your superhero suit like a shield.  I love that image.  Because to your child, you are a superhero.  You are your child’s fearless leader.  You are bigger, stronger, wiser than they.  You are their role model for how to handle overwhelming feelings.  We add fuel to the fire when we are anything besides calm, consistent, and compassionate.

It’s so very hard to exude this zen attitude when your kid is crying and flailing in the frozen foods aisle and you have to leave your cart full of groceries in a hurry (I speak from experience.)  But you’ve got to fake it til you make it. You’ve got to exercise those zen muscles until a chill response is second nature.

Here’s what it looks like for me:

Your child hits another child in public.  You are mad, embarrassed and panicked.  Breathe, walk over, and calmly but sternly say, “I won’t let you hit.”  Hold down his hands and look him in the eye.  If he hits again, repeat “I won’t let you hit.  We need to go home now.”  Pick up the kid and go home.  As he throws a royal tantrum in the car, say “You sound frustrated and mad.  You wanted to hit and you wanted to stay at the park, but I am taking you home. You can cry and let it all out. I’m here if you want to talk or cuddle.”

Calm, cool, empathetic.  I guarantee, this strategy works better to simmer kids down than a mommy tantrum or that cold passive-aggressive thing I do. Promise.

Why I Dislike Talking on the Phone

i hate the phone

That invasive ring-a-ling that comes out of the blue and fills you with a slight dread.  Uhhg.  I was so relieved to find out that hating the phone is pretty normal for HSPs.  I guess I’m not the only one who avoids the phone whenever possible.  This post made me laugh!

This phone aversion goes way back for me.  I used to beg my mom to make my phone calls for me, even as late as college.  I know, this is so ridiculous!  Now that I can’t rely on mommy, I try to set up appointments, RSVP for events, and order things online or via text instead of the phone, even if it usually takes longer that way.  I also prefer to text friends to set up face-to-face get-togethers, rather than have lengthy phone conversations.  For my bffs who live far away, I do make exceptions because I love talking to them and want to be a part of their lives.

So why do HSPs hate the phone so much?  What’s the big deal?

Here’s my take on it.

  1. The surprise of a phone call.  It kind of activates a fight or flight response in me.  Sometimes I’m really in the zone- cooking, or cleaning, or just reading in bed, and then that ring just startles me.
  2. Awkward. There is some inevitable awkwardness that goes along with phone conversations.  The small talk, the dead silences, the interruptions, the lengthy goodbyes.
  3. You can’t rely on facial cues.  HSPs are really tuned into facial cues.  It’s hard for me to get the full story if I can’t see the person’s face or gesticulations.
  4. I can’t follow.  People talk too fast or don’t enunciate, which makes me flustered, and then I really miss what they’re saying.
  5. Traumatic past events.  I’ve gotten some pretty tragic phone calls (ex-boyfriend dumping me, notice of my dad’s death, etc.) so it makes me nervous when the phone rings, like “Great, now what??”
  6. Multitasking is not my strength.  It’s so hard for me to parent my kids while also talking on the phone.  Because everyone knows as soon as you pick up the phone, the kids need you desperately.

Who else is with me?  Thank goodness for texting and email.  And to my friends who love the phone, you are well worth the sacrifice 🙂

HSPs and Labor: Why Home Birth Suited Me Best

birth should take place where you are comfortableLabor should be as comfortable as possible.  I don’t mean painless, although I do have a friend who claims she didn’t experience pain during her quick 4 hour labor.  I mean as stress-free, emotionally calm,  and positive as possible.

Home is where I’m most comfortable.  At home, I can control the level of stimulation, the music, lighting, temperature, who is present, what I wear, when to push, what position to labor in.  HSPs like control because we are so easily overstimulated and have to protect ourselves.  Home birth gave me a chance to control the aspects of labor that are controllable, which gave me more confidence to face all the scary unknowns.

I personally don’t like the hospital vibe.  I don’t like bright lights, beeping machines, sudden announcements, bleachy smells, and squeaking sneakers.  I know, I sound like such a princess right now.  I really try not to be high maintenance or make a fuss, but if I can avoid things that rub me the wrong way, I do.

I am also super intimidated by doctors (“white coat syndrome”) and tend to do whatever doctors say (or at least pretend to obey) whether they make sense or not. I feared not having the guts to stand firm if doctors recommended an intervention I wasn’t comfortable with.

For all these reasons, I decided to pursue a home birth.  Working with a midwife was so intimate and comforting. I never felt rushed or pressured or wrong.  They are trained to watch and wait, to let labor follow it’s natural course and pace.  They tend to not see every tiny hiccup as an emergency.  HSPs do not like to be rushed or pressured to “perform”, and I loved that I could just relax and let my labor instincts kind of take over.

Now, there’s the issue of emergencies.  HSPs tend to think and plan and worry about the future.  I did my research, and knew my midwives’ stats were far better than the surrounding hospitals.  Much lower C-Section rates, lower episiotomy rates, etc.  My chances of successfully birthing at home with no interventions was 90%, much better odds than in any of the local hospitals (the nearest hospital has a 60% c-section rate!)

HSPs supposedly feel pain more intensely, so why would I put myself through an unmedicated birth?  Because the thought of laboring in a hospital, hearing the screams of laboring women, dealing with the possibility of bratty nurses or curt doctors scared me more than the pain.

I can imagine some HSPs would prefer to labor in a hospital because they feel safer there and there is more backup in case of emergencies.  Maybe the hospital procedures are a comfort.  More power to you!  Like I said, birth should take place where you’re comfortable- at home, at the hospital, at a birth center, in a taxi (jk.)  Do your research, do some soul-searching, and honor your own decision.

Did your HSP qualities affect your birth plan or labor?  How so?  Please share by leaving a comment!

matteos home birth

Welcome to Highly Sensitive Mom

highly sensitive mom tahoe I’m Kristin, and I am a Highly Sensitive Mom.  My sensitivity affects every area of my life, and always has.  I was supposedly a very stressed out, tearful baby, as evidenced by stacks of baby pictures with my nose red and eyes swollen.  I was a cautious, quiet but extremely creative child.  I was a bit of a loner.  I had friends, but just one or two soul mates at a time.

In High School and college, I felt fake and phony and didn’t understand why.  I strived to be perky and outgoing on the outside (cheerleader, drama, student government), but was nervous and scared on the inside.  I did well in school because I’m conscientious and enjoyed the peaceful ritual of studying. But my good grades didn’t come easily.  I felt like I was working twice as hard as everyone and struggling to stay ahead. I was trying to keep up with the pace of my peers and feeling burnt out.  And I wasn’t even in the “real” world yet!

I’m now in my 30’s, and I’m definitely in the real world now.  It’s intense.  I’ve owned several small businesses, some have failed and some haven’t.  I got married. I suffered the loss of my father to suicide 5 years ago. But becoming a parent rocked my world more than any other event by far.  It brought my HSP qualities to the forefront.  There were so many times when I thought I was just not cut out for motherhood; I’d never get the hang of it.  I wanted my old life back.

Reading The Highly Sensitive Person changed my life.  Not only did it explain why I feel so frazzled, overwhelmed, and emotional much of the time, but it showed me that I’m not alone.  I’m not broken.  I’m not crazy.  I’m just a highly sensitive mom living in a highly-stimulating world.  I realized I CAN do this parenting thing!  I just might need to do it differently.thanks for your support!

There are so many ways that being HSP has made parenting hard.  So very hard. The mommy guilt, the sleepless nights, the screams of a newborn are intense enough, but what if you experience the world in high definition? There are also myriad ways in which it’s made me a more thoughtful, empathetic, responsible parent. I can say now that I’m blessed to be highly sensitive, and that my kids are blessed to have me.

That’s what this blog is about.  It’s my attempt to wrap my mind around what it means to be an HSP parent.  To find the joy in my sensitivity and to accept the burden it brings, too.  Most of all, I want HSM to be a safe place for other HSP parents to come and learn, reflect and say “Yes, that’s sooo me!”  Because doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone?

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