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Blog — "keeping it real"

The Start of a New Era and Taking Risks

Heidi Shenk "etsy shop" "happiness" "keeping it real" "teaching"

Yes, it has been a while since I have set foot in these parts. Almost a month, to be exact. In truth, sometimes you just have to put something on the back burner until you actually have the time for it, and with a lot going on in my life in the past month, there really wasn't time.

Yesterday, I spent a final day in the classroom. I had spent three days tearing down my room, giving away six years worth of materials, supplies, and other odds and ends, and it all came down to two black milk crates filled with a few things that I decided to keep. It's amazing how long it takes to build up a stock of all of these materials and supplies, and how quickly they disappear after you send an email blast to your entire school proclaiming "FREE STUFF!"

Two hours. Yup, two hours was it and all of the markers (except for my Sharpies! You can't take those from a Sharpie addict!), crayons, colored pencils, bulletin board borders and letters, books, construction paper, paper towels, and everything else you can imagine was gone. These things are GOLD to teachers and despite it all, it felt good to know that a lot of people left my room super happy with some amazing supplies for next year.

When I decided to stop teaching it was the easiest decision I had to make in a long time. And while the past week has been extremely bittersweet, I don't feel a bit of regret. In Baltimore City, six years is a long time for someone like me that came through an alternative teaching certification program. I had never intended to teach for my entire life, but just for a couple years. A couple years turned into six, and those six years were fabulous. But times change and your heart no longer feels happy or something just feels tiring about going into the classroom every single day. And then one day, you realize that summer break isn't going to be enough. That you are just too tired to think about returning.

Today is the start of a new era. I know that I am done for good, that I'm moving on to my card business. At the same time, nothing about it feels strange. I am usually free with all the time in the world to work on my business during this time of year. My brain has been buzzing with all sorts of new ideas and projects like it usually does as the school year winds down. It feels normal. What won't feel normal is when August rolls around and I'm not setting up my classroom. Summer is a good transition period. It's a great time for me to change, but I am still unsure of how I will feel when I truly realize that this is it. I'm not going back and I'm stuck with myself in my studio until I decide otherwise.

I think it is only natural to have fears amidst all of the excitement. The unknown is scary. I've crunched numbers what feels like a thousand times, but what if I forgot something? What if people stop buying my cards? What if I fail miserably? What if all of the friends I've made at school never speak to me again? These are all seriously legitimate fears that I've had roaming around in this head of mine over the last two months.

On the other hand, how will I ever know whether or not I can accomplish what I dream of if I never try? The fear of regret of what could have been, if I don't do what I feel pulled toward in my life right now, is bigger than all of those other what ifs. Wondering whether or not my business could have been a success later on in life is not something that I want to be thinking about when I'm old, feeling as though my life passed without me truly doing what I love.

Not taking this risk is the greatest risk of all.

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Heidi Shenk "a few things" "keeping it real"

It's only Tuesday and I'm tired. Some days I feel guilty for saying I'm tired. I know that there are people out there that literally only get a few hours of sleep each night before doing their day all over again. I usually get about seven hours of sleep, but I'm still tired. Today I came home from school, got a snack, and sat down to my to do list.

Just looking at the list made me feel exhausted. There is a lot going on in my life these days and most of the time I'm not even sure how I get everything done. Actually, let's face it, I don't get everything done.

The worst part is that some days I just want to stop. I want to pretend that I don't have to do any of what is on the list. This I struggle with most because a lot of the things on the list are things I absolutely love doing since they revolve around my business. Realistically, it's not that I don't want to do them, it's just that I need a break. Where is the break though? You probably remember my superwoman post a while ago, and truly there is never a break. I work when I get home, eat dinner, and then work some more until I go to bed. On weekends, I often work eight hour days with the rest of the time being spent on running errands and attempting to do some fun things in there as well.

I think the last time I legitimately wasn't busy and could do whatever I damn well pleased was Christmas break.

That's over three months ago.

I'm tired.

This week, I'm finishing final preparations for my first big craft fair. I'm not sure how I'll finish. Probably some late nights coming up, but it will get finished.

But it doesn't stop there. It keeps going. And going. And going.

I know that there will be a time when this will all end. Eventually, I'll be able to work an eight hour day and I can stop what I'm doing and say that I'm done working for the day. I can't shut off my computer, put down a drawing pen, put the envelopes back onto their shelves, package the last card, say hi to Andrew as he walks in the door after getting home from work, and enjoy the rest of the evening just as I please.

Eventually. But for now, I'm tired.

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The Anti-Bride

Heidi Shenk "confessions" "keeping it real" "wedding"

Remember this post from forever ago? No? Figures. It took me a while to dig back into the archives and dust it off. And if you do remember the post, which part was most memorable? For me, it was the wood-fired oven and the Frank Lloyd Wright house. But if you read the little side note at the end, you'd probably find out that I also told you we got engaged. In Chicago. In the rain. In Millennium Park. It was one of those little side notes that wasn't super important, but I figured you all would love to know. And I wrote that post, oh you know, almost two years ago. No biggie. Post engagement photo? This is as exciting as it gets.

At this point, some of you are probably suddenly remembering that Oh yeah, she did get engaged. So when is the wedding? Truth? I hate weddings. I suppose I am the epitome of the anti-bride. While others have been planning their weddings since they were a little girl, I have thought absolutely nothing of it. And quite frankly, I get sick of the question, "So have you set a date yet?" followed by the maniacal laughing as if it is the funniest joke that has ever been told.

Here's my thing. I'm not a lovey dovey, gushy mushy type of person. I hate ceremonies of all kinds. I am not religious. I am a complete introvert. Getting married is about me and Andrew, not our family and friends. Yup. I just said that last bit. And I'm not afraid to say it again. It's all about us! So why should I have to have this ginormous wedding just for the sake of friends and family? Why would I want a church wedding? Why would I want to partake in a huge ceremony? And why would I want to be in front of dozens upon dozens of people proclaiming my love from now until forever?

Here's another thing. I did a little research and found this awesome site. Click the link and you'll see that on average, a wedding in Baltimore costs between $18,000 and $31,000. Ummm, excuse me? Say that again? You mean a wedding in this city would most likely cost me more than I paid for my car? I don't think so!

With that same money, I could travel around the world for several months. Or I could purchase ten round trip tickets to Sydney, Australia. And I've been dying of homesickness (even though it's not my original home) since I left Australia after living there in 2005. I think that sort of experience is much more warranted when it comes to celebrating spending the rest of your life with another person.

Speaking of spending the rest of your life with another person, why is it that it is only socially accepted that marriage is what must happen? I think I got more congratulations from our engagement than when we moved in together five years prior. We like to do things backwards-- we moved in together, we got a dog together, we bought a house together, then we got engaged a while later. However, just because getting engaged was the last of these things to happen did not mean that we had already planned on being together for the rest of our lives.

Actually, we got engaged several years prior at one of our favorite bars as we discussed that we would eventually get married. I think Andrew asked me if I'd marry him, and I'm pretty sure I said yes and told him that I should wear a twisty tie on my ring finger from here on out. All joking aside, we are partners in crime for life and always knew that. So why the formality? Well, health insurance benefits would be pretty nice I suppose if I go self-employed. And it is probably a good idea to have all of that legal stuff worked out. However, it all seems a bit of, well, a formality.

So how are we going to get married? We plan on going to the courthouse. I don't really know when-- probably sooner than later. Then, we're going to have a giant cookout with cornhole and beer and grilling and invite our closest family and friends. There. I've planned my wedding! Now for those of you that keep asking about if we've set the date-- you'll know as soon as I do! ;)

P.S. Don't forget to enter the group giveaway going on right now! 

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