Since I first decided to start the blog, I’ve struggled with how much personal information about our lives to include. The fine line between business and life is hard for me to navigate in a world where social media makes our lives so much more visible. But the whole point of the blog was to let people in and tell our story. So, on the anniversary of our move, I’ve decided to get a little more personal than I ever have.
One year ago today, we were packing up what would end up being the first of three moving trucks. It was only Steve and I with moral support and food provided by my mom and her close friend to help get us through it. We were on our own lifting every single box and piece of furniture that we had collected while we lived in South Bristol. We had actively made a very difficult choice. The four years that had preceded that day were tough. It was a time when we needed to come to some harsh realizations about our lives and the home we had purchased in the middle of wine county.
On paper, it seemed idyllic. An old B&B farmhouse, nestled between grape fields and Canandaigua Lake. A big yard for the dogs, our garden, and views of the lake. In one sense, we lucked out big time. We bought at the absolute bottom of the housing market. Quite frankly, we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it in a better real estate climate.
The first year in that home, I cried myself to sleep every single night. I couldn’t take the isolation that the quiet walls were so good at providing. I had just lost my grandma. Realistically, she was my best friend. She was everyone’s best friend. Above all, the thing in life that she was best at was being our grandma. I thought that the sadness would pass as I dealt with the loss and found my place in the new environment.
We were in that area of New York more out of necessity than from desire. I was fresh out of college with no job. Steve lost his job with Daimler Chrysler when they shut down production in their facility in our hometown. Unfortunately, our town didn’t exactly have any other prospects for an Aerospace Engineer. Like so many young college grads, we had a tough time finding jobs in 2012. Then Steve got a call back from a company in rural southern, NY and we found ourselves quite literally moving WAY out of our comfort zone.
We grew up in a community full of family and friends. I never knew how important that was until it was stripped entirely away from me. In fact, growing up I consistently felt like the introverted awkward one out. I never fully felt like I fit in anywhere. When kids were having sleepovers I wanted to be in my own bed by 8 pm. In college, bars and parties were something I went to out of a sense of obligation. Most were spent silently thinking of how wonderful it would be to just be home creating art or sleeping. I was pretty surprised when I found myself longing for the human interaction that I had spent most of my life actively avoiding. Who knew someone with social anxiety could feel so lonely.
For the next four years, Steve and I poured all our time and money into renovating that old lakeside farmhouse. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in those walls. As the last few marble tiles went up in our master bathroom, I still had the same sad empty feeling inside my soul. It was heartbreaking. Looking back, I should have known that renovating a home wasn’t going to make it feel right. Steve spent most of his time commuting to work and at his office. I spent most of my time alone. I could feel the sense of guilt Steve had every day when he had to leave me alone in that house. We sold one of our cars to fund the move. I was essentially stranded until we finally got a second car a few years in.
Pottery was my salvation during those isolating years. I am forever grateful to Steve. He insisted that I buy the equipment for a home studio despite it being a huge expense that we probably shouldn’t have taken on at the time. Our business quickly became my sanity. It was the way I was able to get up and start each day. It gave me back a purpose. Slowly, I found a sense of community again. We started doing simple art shows to sell our work. It gave us an excuse to drive the hour North to Rochester and get out into the community. I began to fall in love with the city. It was so vibrantly artistic and inclusive. People unapologetically scream out who they are here with kindness and acceptance for those who are not the same. It was a breath of fresh air. I finally felt like I fit. I wasn’t the square peg in a round hole here.
Now that we’ve spent a year living here, I am even more in love with Rochester than ever. Something truly amazing has happened. It was like the second we took control of our unhappiness and decided to move, doors opened up to us that I would have never thought possible. Through opportunities that seemed to just come out of nowhere, we’ve met true friends from all over the United States. Friends who care for, accept and understand us. Our business has grown exponentially. We’ve made the most amazing business partnerships. We have that sense of community that we had so longed for. The shocking thing is that not only did we find community in our neighbors, friends, and the local area we’ve found amazing connections all over the US and abroad.
The social anxiety I spent so many years fighting is so much less now. Somewhere along the journey, I realized that what it all boiled down to was surrounding myself with people that understood me. The anxiety stemmed from feeling like I needed to change things about myself to connect with other people. The feeling that I wasn’t good enough the way I was. I spent most of my life feeling like I was odd and unlovable.
The thing about being an artist or craftsperson is that you can’t hide. You show your true self through your work. Those little coffee mugs unapologetically scream exactly who I am from the rooftops. And when they yelled from that sad farmhouse, people who felt the same way I did inside started yelling back. Those are the people I am lucky enough to now call friends, partners, and supporters.
Our new home, although not as aesthetically pleasing, feels far more like “home” than the old house ever did. We feel far more like “us” than we ever have. We’ve dedicated our free time to renovating the new house. Although, it will happen much more slowly than the last due to all of the amazing new things we’re proud to be involved in. Our days are filled with more joy, friendships, to-do lists, and hard work than ever before. We wake up each day excited for all that we get to be a part of.
So, what’s the point of this giant rambling post? I know that we’re definitely not the only ones who have made what can feel like giant missteps. I know that the feeling of isolation is far more common than people pretend. I know that it can seem impossible to shake. We’re proof that if you make a plan to change the unhappiness and act on it, really exciting things can happen. Taking control of your life and owning exactly who you are and what you want is so important. It has given me a sense of inner peace that is priceless. Moving quickly into the time of year when everyone starts reflecting on what they are thankful for, we find ourselves unable to even list all that we are grateful for. There are so many things that have made this past year absolutely remarkable. Steve and I are so excited for what is still to come.