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?

 

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 🙂

Kids Clutter Drives me Nuts

tackle kids clutter editedThe older I get, the more averse I am to clutter. Clutter can be extremely distracting and stress-inducing for lots of people, but I believe HSPs are less able to just ignore it.  We are constantly scanning our environment to determine what is relevant or not.  When I see a counter top with tons of papers, pens, knicknacks, and mail, I have fantasies of sweeping it ALL into a hefty bag with my arm.  That would be so satisfying.

I tackled my clutter problem two years ago after reading The Joy of Less.   (I know everyone is obsessed with the Konmari method, but The Joy of Less literally changed my  life.)  I basically went room by room, one room per day.  I purged about 50% of my posessions, and continue to have a charity pick up a few boxes every month.  It feels wonderful to have empty surfaces, tidy rooms, and to know exactly what I own and where it is.  It’s truly helped my home feel more like a sanctuary from the crazy world, instead of crazy town.  Since decluttering, I’m also more likely to invite people over for meals or to just hang out since I know I won’t have to do a crazy cleaning spree beforehand.

Many assume kids’ clutter- toys, baby supplies and gear-  is inevitable.  But if you walked into my home, besides the booster seat at the table, some baby pictures on the wall, and two small baskets of toys in the corner of the living room, you might not even guess we have two kids.  I was inspired by the book Bringing Up Bebe which said French homes are not overwhelmed with kids’ clutter.  Rather, the children keep it all in their rooms.  That’s their little world.  Then when they get tucked into bed at the end of the day, the evening and the home belongs to the parents.  It’s time to sip wine, talk and romance.  Don’t you just love that picture?

Parenting can be so messy, unpredictable, and chaotic, but my house doesn’t need to be.  That’s not an option for me and my well-being.  Clutter is just too burdensome for me and my HSC (Highly Sensitive Child). We need blank space and room to breathe and to think.affiliate badge

Here’s how I keep kids’ clutter under control.

(I highly recommend reading The Joy of Less if you need a swift kick in the booty to get all your clutter under control. You will be changed forever… )

  • Purge 1/2 of their toys.  Then purge some more.  Your kids should probably not be a part of this process. They aren’t good judges of what they really need and use.  You are.  Toss anything broken, neglected, super annoying to clean up.  I know, this seems tough.  But I guarantee your kids will play longer and more creatively with less. It’s ironic.
  • Choose a few baskets or toy boxes to keep toys contained.  The picture above shows Sisi’s toy boxes and bookshelves. We also have a cute little art cart (Ikea’s raskog cart) for art supplies.  When toys start to spill over, we know to purge some more.
  • Same with books.  Purge down to the nitty gritty favorites.  Below you’ll see a picture of our wall bookshelves (which are actually spice racks painted white.)  They fit just a handful of books each, which forces us to keep our collection succinct. We assume we need a huge library for our kids, but we don’t.  Don’t your kids like to read the same books over and over anyway?  We hit up the public library every few weeks if we’re craving novelty. Or we tell stories verbally, the good old fashioned way. (I’m a sucky storyteller but Sisi eats it up!)
  • Baby Stuff:  Only save what is in great condition and actually useful for future children. Ditch anything soiled, worn, not really useful. If by chance you give away something that you end up needing later, it’s really not that hard to find it again for cheap/free. Matteo is 8 months now, and I’ve already given away, sold or donated much of his baby stuff.  I am pretty vigilant about only keeping what is useful right now.  We don’t plan to have any more kids, so I’m happy to say goodbye to this stuff.
  • You probably don’t need that much “baby gear” either. We follow R.I.E. parenting principes, so we try not to rely on swings, jumpers, and fancy electronic toys to keep our kids entertained.  Instead, we put our babies on the floor or the crib to explore with a few simple toys.  We do have one simple and attractive bouncer, the baby bjorn babysitter, which is more like a baby lounge chair for moments when I need to keep baby contained.  Basically, keep the gear you actually use regularly, but know that most of it isn’t essential (even if the catalogs tell you they are!)
  • Kids’ Creations:  We keep 1 or 2 pieces of artwork on the fridge to admire at a time before we recycle them, but we don’t usually keep it forever.  Maybe I will regret this someday, but in my mind, it’s more about the process of creating (I often snap pics of her as she’s working) than the tangible product.  If you’re more sentimental than I, you can always photograph of the creations and condense them into a photo album to treasure always.  Keeping stacks and stacks of artwork is just not conducive to a tidy home.

Does kid clutter drive you nuts, too?  Please share your kid clutter solutions!

tidy kids book shelves